Above: My wife texted Brad that if he didn’t take a bunch of photos of me in my tux, that when we got back she would shave his beard off herself. Needless to say, he took lots of photos. 

The best way I can describe it is “Surreal.” I know that term is over-used, but it honestly best describes the whole event. The scope â” the scale of it all, was way beyond what I was expecting. I figured the awards ceremony would be in a nice hotel ballroom, but I wasn’t prepared for something more along the lines of “The Oscars” and when we pulled up in front of the massive stage, assembled from scratch in the shadow of Dubai’s iconic Emirates Towers, in front of the Dubai International Financial Centre, I was speechless.

Everyone connected with HIPA’s event was just incredible 
They are some of the most gracious hosts on the planet (a special thank you Mohammed Al Daou, Ronald Villegas and Ziad Al Salama). It’s a first class organization, and a world class event and having his Highness the Crown Prince there, and to be presented with an award by His Highness himselfâ¦wellâ¦it’s something I’ll never forget. To say it was an honor, and an amazing evening, is just an understatement.

Today, I’m going to share a lot of behind-the-scenes photos, mostly taken with an iPhone, mostly taken by Brad, and I’m going to hold off on sharing my images from my 2-1/2 days of shooting until I find out (later today) if we’re going to do a live Webcast about the trip.

RC was there 8-days right before I arrived, and I’m hoping the two of us, along with Brad, can do a live Webcast about the trip next week (I’m off to Amsterdam this week), so I want to save sharing those images until then (but I’ll do a simultaneous release on Exposure.co of the images from the webcast for those who can’t attend).

I could share so many stories, but for now here’s some BTS shots, with captions that help tell the story of at least the HIPA Awards Ceremony, until I can tell the full story, and share some videos during the live Webcast (details as soon as I have them). Until then, here we go:

Above: Click on this pano to see it much larger, and it will help you get a feel for the scope of the event. This is about 2-hours until curtain, and everybody’s in prep mode, testing the lights, projectors, audio, cameras, etc. 

Above: Look at the size of that video screen â” it blends down and continues right onto the floor, so they can project images on the floor as well. That entire black wall behind the screen was erected just for this ceremony. 

Above: Here’s a shot from the stage looking back toward the seating — the Emirates Towers make an awesome backdrop. 

Above: Yes, of course we have time for a selfie. :)

Above: Brad was looking very spiffy for the event as well, and his beard really took on an international flavour, don’t ya think?

Above: Brad was clearly concerned about not having enough tux shots, so he was constantly posing me, but it must have worked â” he still has his beard. 

Above: Here’s an iPhone pano of the scene just before showtime at 7pm (click for a much larger view).

Above: The Crown Prince has arrived, and now it’s showtime! (and time for me to get a little nervous). 

Above: Before each category was presented, we saw a really slick video that interacted with performers on stage. Very well done, and they must have rehearsed like crazy to get the timing down the way they had it. Very well done. 

Above: After seeing lots of amazing images from around the world who were entered into the contest, it was time for the Special Awards category. In just a moment The Crown Prince His Royal Highness Hamdan bin Mohommed bin Rahshid al Maktum would come to the stage to present the HIPA Special Award himself to a very excited American author and Photoshop Guy. 

Above: Here’s a shot of me receiving the Award from The Prince. I will never forget that moment!

Above: You can see how excited I was to receive this award. 

Above: When I got back to my seat, I just could not stop smiling. What a night!

Above: At the end, all the winners came on stage to get a group shot with the Prince. I’m way over on the left side. 

 

Above: That’s a shot of me, and my buddy Ali Rajabi from Iran, posing with our awards (Ali won in the general category for an amazing shot he took of a snowy street in New York City). 

Above: Amazing after-party under the stars, and then off to bed for an early sunrise shoot on top of building (this was taken just after sunrise). 

Above: This is my new friend, Daniel Cheong (thanks Elia Locardi for introducing us!) who was a wealth of knowledge on where to shoot in Dubai, and how to get access to high places, like this rooftop (he should know – he’s taken some of the most well-known iconic images of Dubai with the tops of skyscrapers peeking through the clouds). Awesome guy â” tons of fun, and we’re looking forward to having him on “The Grid” when he visits us later this year. 

Above: Look who we found in Dubai! Yup, skyscraper scaling, lunch eating, flash-firing, love-making (love-making?), risk taking, bundle of energy and light, the one and only Joe McNally, who was taking up residence at the Park Hyatt before heading home from his Gulf Photo Plus gig (and photographing the Burj Khalifa’s window washers hanging off the side of the building 140-something stories up. Yikes!) Had a wonderful lunch with Joe and Brad, and the weather couldn’t have been more beautiful. 

Above: What’s Brad’s beard look like 124 floors above the earth? Like this. He can take a selfie like a boss!

Above: Spent two really fun days in Dubai and Abu Dhabi with the wonderful Eva von Pepel, from the Swedish Photo Crew (a wonderful group of Swedish expat photographers living and working in Dubai â” they led a photo walk last year as part of my annual Worldwide Photo Walk, and I contacted them before my trip and Eva was kind enough to chauffeur us all over, and get us access to cool places). This shot was taken in front of the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Unbelievable place (more on this, and many photos, to come soon). Thanks again Eva! I think we put 1,200 miles on her Nissan Armada (and we crushed several slower, smaller cars along the way). 

Above: This is Brad “In da club” (it’s true. It’s just that we were in this rooftop club at 6:00 am for a sunrise shoot, but we couldn’t resist the “I’m in da club” shot). 

Above: On Wednesday night there was a press conference/panel at the hotel, hosted by HIPA and I was one of the participants. Totally cool event (very well run â” the hostess who asked the questions and kept things moving was really great). A tux was not required, but had it beenâ¦I was prepared. 

Above: The panel discussion part mostly focused on photographic education and that was really fun for me. You could tell from the discussions how serious the Crown Prince and HIPA are about making Dubai a center for serious photography. Their commitment and passion are really refreshing and there were really engaging moments, spontaneous applause, thoughtful comments and just a really great presentation all around, presented in three different parts. I was really tickled to be a small part of it. 

Above: After the panel, there were meetings with different magazines, press organizations, the team from HIPA, and some serious photographers from all over the world. 

Above: Here I’m taping an interview for a Philippine’s based magazine. 

I’ve got so much more to shareâ¦
This is just a peek at some of the behind-the-scenes stuff. Again, I hope to be announcing a free live Webcast about the trip with RC, Brad and me, hopefully for next week (depending on schedules and things), and I’ll be sharing some of my images then.

Thanks for hanging with me through this very long post. Can’t wait to share the pictures and stories and people of one of the coolest places on the planet â” Dubai and the UAE. :)

Here’s to an awesome week everybody!

Best,

-Scott

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About The Author

Scott is a Photographer, bestselling Author, Host of "The Grid" weekly photography show; Editor of Photoshop User magazine; Lightroom Guy; KelbyOne.com CEO; struggling guitarist. Loves Classic Rock and his arch-enemy is Cilantro. Devoted husband, dad to two super awesome kids, and pro-level babysitter to two crazy doggos.

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