We look at things every day but we don’t always see them. When we really focus our attention on something, be it an object, idea, or issue we begin to see it for the first time, re-see it instead of just looking. In a world where one billion photos are taken each day we suffer from a collective visual fatigue, even among a vibrant array of venues and greater opportunities for sharing photos. The big challenge is to show people something they haven’t seen before, a new approach to an old issue or idea that won’t go away or that has been neglected. These are the two big goals for this workshop.
This is your chance to break out of what you think makes a good photograph or what is expected of you as a photographer, whether you are professional, student, or enthusiast. We will look at examples of contemporary photography and sometimes more personal approaches that have made storytelling more intriguing and liberated from traditional visual ideas.
What story or idea a participant wants to tell is up to them. The main purpose of telling a story with photos or working on a series in one week, whatever shape it takes, is to hone skills and give participants a new way to see the world, to re-see it, if you will. We will brainstorm about new approaches to stories and ideas that have been photographed repeatedly, to think outside the box on how we can re-envision these ideas. This is the most important thing you will take away from this masterclass, thinking of visually telling a story in a new way.
Participants may come with ideas and use any visual approach they think will produce the strongest work. There are no limits. They may continue to work on projects already in progress or produce a five-day series that would address challenges you face in your storytelling abilities.
Everyone should come with a goal they wish to accomplish. The masterclass will include 1:1 discussions about editing, sequencing, and in-class exercises in putting work together. Participants may bring a portfolio of work for review and discussion. This is not a class for beginners who expect to be taught how to use a camera but younger enthusiasts are more than welcome.
The first day we will look at the work of a variety of photographers in both the documentary and art worlds whose styles you might want to apply this week to your own work. I will also show work. Participants should bring 10 to 15 images of their own which we will review as a class. In these images, I’m looking for how you shoot and what you find interesting so I can decide how to be of the most assistance to you during the week. We will discuss ideas and focus them. Focusing an idea is one of the hardest things to do and this will be a helpful lesson.
The remaining days will be spent shooting photos and coming to class to edit them and discuss your progress and what might come next. We might also meet one-on-one for a few days and then gather the class together. We will probably meet in the mornings but we can set a firmer schedule day to day depending on needs of the participants.
If any participants are working on longer term projects, please bring them for me to review with you. Participants must own their own cameras.
A longtime and celebrated documentary photographer, Maggie Steber was named as a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow for 2017 and won grant support for her most recent project, The Secret Garden of Lily LaPalma, where she is cast as Lily, her dark alter-ego in an alternate universe where anything is possible and all ideas and characters are welcome. A turn from her documentary style, the Secret Garden explores Steber’s own imagination and subconscious as impacted by personal experiences in the depiction of a disjointed world where the photograph is equal parts witness and catharsis.