31 Days of Photographers that Inspire: Day 31: Gabriel Al-Rifai

Day 31: Gabriel Al-Rifai


HOLY BANANAS! I love a challenge.  I always have.  I can be the laziest SOB when I let myself but if I have a goal, the dormant part of my brain that must succeed wakes up and follows through.  This is how I surprised my family by graduating summa cum laude with a 4.0 (transfer colleges after you’ve been failing the last few years to a university that lets you start your GPA over when you’re finally motivated to work hard the last 2 years.  There’s my little survival tip for you!), it’s how I didn’t miss a single day of school my senior year so that I wouldn’t have to take finals and it’s how I finished this 31 Days of Photographers that Inspire without missing a day.  It could also be titled 31 Days of Bonnie neglecting important things to get her blog posts done…..but here we are at Day 31 and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

The response to this endeavor has been overwhelming and rewarding on a level I never expected.  I’ve made so many new friends and my eyes have been opened to some of the most incredible artists in the world!  By popular request, the 31 Days may end here, but the Photographers that Inspire won’t.  Stop by tomorrow when we announce the plan for how we will continue to bring you inspiration from brilliant artists around the world!

But let’s get to today.  My most influential, important inspiration of all time.  My husband, Gabriel Freakin’ Creative Genius Al-Rifai.  Gabe’s brain is shaped differently than the rest of us.  It’s actually the shape of a painters palette, complete with colors the rest of us haven’t even seen yet. Watching him conceptualize an idea is both exciting and exhausting at the same time.  He can literally reach into thin air and pull out an idea that has never been thought of before.  He can create anything he imagines whether he has the skillset or not.  He learns faster than anyone I’ve ever known, which explains how his very first Photoshop endeavor turned out like this:

Locked-Out-webWatching him plan this session was incredible.  Our process for creating is so vastly different from each other and I am mesmerized by his ability to dream up things that have never been imagined before. When this beautiful girl talked about her family’s wig company, Gothic Lolita Wigs, he knew he wanted to make an art piece to represent this part of her world like nothing that had ever been done before. My first photoshop attempt??? I guarantee it’s not even close to being posted on the internet.

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One of my favorite images of his was taken in New York when we were filming for The Concept on The Framed Network with Lindsay Adler and Brooke Shaden.

He had a model in a white room and tin cans. A group of us were imaging how to use these props to create an image and I got chills when I saw his idea unfold.  A few months passed before he finished his concept and surprised me with his finished piece.  I am in love with it!

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Whatever he dreams up becomes a brilliant project.  He is passionate about video and film making so when we had an opportunity to make a movie recreating our friends Daniel and Roxy’s favorite movies for their engagement video, he took it to a level none of us expected.

Besides his own creativity and passion, Gabe inspires me most with his selfless giving to everyone he loves.  You have to be careful about even whispering your dreams around them.  He WILL make them come true.  Ever had an inkling of desire to be a painter?  Gabe will read your mind and get you everything you could possibly need to be a painter for your birthday.

Ever mention you might like to try learning how to use studio lights?  That’s how I ended up with my light kit.  Ever mention you wanted a studio?  I did.  And this is what happened.  He turned this:


Into this:


….with no prior designing experience.

He wanted to have family over for dinner but we didn’t have a table or anywhere to sit.  So, he quickly threw these together:

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(Ok, the dinner table was quick, but the patio took a little bit longer…not much longer though!)

Why am I inspired by Gabe most? Because not knowing how to do something has never stopped him from doing something.  He makes no excuses and doesn’t have any walls that separate him from his goals.  He has torn down the brick walls of fear that I’ve had built up inside me for following my dreams my entire life and has held my hand and lifted me up to accomplish things I never would have tried without him.  He also gave me a mini version of himself who looks at life in the exact same way as his father.  (With a nice little touch of the reservations his mother has that will hopefully make his years as a teenager more peaceful for us than Gabe made his for his parents.)

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I wouldn’t exist without Gabe.  I wouldn’t have created anything that I have done, wouldn’t be following my passions and dreams, wouldn’t wake up every day to live life with so much enthusiasm and excitement and I wouldn’t have my best friend doing it all with me.


Happy 31 Days of Photographers that Inspire everyone!

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Don’t forget to check out the rest of our 31 Days of Photographers that Inspire and stop by tomorrow to find out the plan for the future of Photographers that Inspire! You can follow Bonnie and Gabe Two Creative Birds on Facebook or our portrait website at and our conceptual photography site at


  1. Pingback: 31 Days of Photographers that Inspire | fromthebirdcage

  2. Love this! So glad this was a great month for you! The 31 days was icky for me, but that’s my issue. I’m glad you’re going to continue with the inspiration, because I’d never find these people otherwise! I love this kind of photography and love you and Gabe and Jones and Spoodle, the dog that got away. 🙂

  3. This is perfect. What a wonderful way to celebrate Day 31. Both of you have the most incredible sense of style and creativity. You are definitely the A-Team!
    Love the studio, table and deck too!!! Gabriel you are so multi-talented and visionary 🙂

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