Three Professionals Compete for Best Shot in Portrait Photography Shootout

For the 2013 Gulf Photo Plus (GPP) conference, held annually in Dubai, guest instructors John Keatley, Lindsay Adler, and Zack Arias were pitted against each other in an all-out battle for the best photo. Racing against a 20-minute deadline to compose, shoot, and edit their photo, the photographers had to think on their feet and pull out all the creative stops:

Given the task of shooting a portrait of legendary photographer Gregory Heisler (who is responsible for over 80 covers for “Time Magazine”), each competitor had a 20-minute session with Heisler, which the other two photographers didn’t get to see. All three didn’t find out about the nature of the assignment until immediately before shooting, and had to work with the added pressure of a live audience.

Keatley, who went first, pulled out some props — a wig and turtleneck shirt — for a humorous take on the portrait:

“Maybe you did that assignment for ‘Rolling Stone’ and hung out with Rod Stewart for just a little too long…”

portrait competition

Adler took a more serious route and decided to use a composite background to give her portrait the look of being shot on location with natural light:

portrait of Gregory Heisler

Arias opted for a shot with more action, having assistants throw water at Heisner (though Heisner did retaliate by dumping a glass on Arias when he wasn’t looking, much to the crowd’s delight). The contest was judged by the audience with the ever-popular “clap-o-meter” system, and Arias came out the victor, with the following shot:

winning portrait of GPP photography shootout

Who do you think should have won?

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2 responses to “Three Professionals Compete for Best Shot in Portrait Photography Shootout”

  1. The second portrait here is quite fine. The others wouldn’t catch my attention since they convey mere posing.

    Have look a some character portraits, which try to avoid this kitsch:


    Ronald D. Vogel
    – character portraits only –

  2. Frank says:

    All of them are awesome … but the last one is a true winer in my view, because it takes the subject completely out of his comfort zone and he is still able to pull it off… some of these uber famous photographers take themselves too seriously their egos are so used to being stroked that when they are put in a position where they have to laugh at themselves …well it does get them tense… and this guy was really tense.

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