Today’s story is about how we went to the desert to photograph a conservation project with Benjamin Wong as a part of his workshop for GPP17.
The idea behind the project was that desert kills trees, and we need to help the planet by planting more trees. So Benjamin and GPP teamed up with a charity company that plants trees. He found really cool-looking trees in the Sharjah desert as well as an artist who created absolutely incredible costumes of deadly creatures.
The whole team behind the project was talented beyond measure… and what I love most is that it was done for a good cause.
Initially, we planned to go to three locations to create 3 images, but unfortunately, with the usual Dubai organisation, we only managed to do 2 trees. Nevertheless Ben took 3 shots that I am sure going to be amazing when finished. I saw one almost finished, and it was really impressive.
I had a really funny driver in our 4×4 who was:
- looking like a rock star from the 90s;
- in fact, he was British, but spoke with an Indian accent;
- had a problem with his neck but refused to go to the doctor saying that Jesus will help him;
- promoting eating camel meat and drinking camel milk even after I told him I was a vegetarian;
- was singing songs about Jesus the whole time we were driving *and we had an Emirati lady sitting in the back of the car;
- asked me if I want him to model for my fashion shoots;
- and was thanking Jesus every time we made it over the dune.
I also met a guy in this workshop that I have been following on Facebook for a while but I didn’t realize it was him. Only after he complimented my Fuji, the whole puzzle came together for me to figure out who he was. A pleasure to meet you, Waleed.
What I saw in the shoot is that Ben is just like me, always does everything himself. There are plenty of people to help, but we still have to do everything with our own hands. 😛
Apart from seeing the magic in the action, we got lost in the desert, got stuck in the sand, got rained, and blown away by the wind… my camera got so sanded to the point that the shutter button wouldn’t press any more. Thankfully, there was a free camera cleaning service available during photo week.
So grateful to have been a part of this unbelievable experience. Left tired, but motivated and inspired to dare to dream bolder.
Getting stuck in the sand 15 times on our way back maybe wasn’t the best experience ever, but we made it out alive with or without Jesus’ help.
Loved being a part of it. Thank you Ben, Valentina, Kashyap, Bernhard and each of the students. You guys rock!
P.S. Unfortunately, the company that we organized this whole shoot for didn’t like the images as they thought they were too “dark” and “negative”, so we never got to see the final results, but a few years passed by and I am still in touch with a lot of the people who were in this shoot – so it wasn’t all in vain.
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