Break through your limitations and take photographs that transcend their subject

Sean Kernan

When our first creative photograph breaks through in our early work, it surprises us by completely transcending its subject and becoming something else entirely. The picture happens because we are fully awake … and we have no real idea how we got there. That's the mystery, and it is the reason we go on more deeply into photography.

Most photographers hope that such a flash of awareness will show up at the right time. But, you don't have to wait for it to happen. There are ways to go looking for it, and you can learn them.

© Sean KernanOver 25 years of teaching and studying, Sean has gathered a series of simple exercises that let us explore and deepen our creative state. Think of them as working on what happens where the real creative work is done, before the click. Applying the results of these exercises to daily photographic assignments and then talking about them gives us the chance to find out, not what people think of our pictures, but how they actually affect people.

And as we expand our seeing and awareness, our pictures begin to change, a process that continues long after the class is over. This class does not require extensive photographic accomplishment, (although you should have command of your camera and the necessary software, and not the other way around). You just need to set aside ideas, limitations and strengths, and take some new approaches. Awakeness and awareness in a strongly supportive group will be the week’s work, and we will look for it with our cameras and our minds. We’ll work deep, wake up, and have fun and we'll prize audacious failures over small, safe successes. Participants should arrive ready to jump in!


"This is a narrative course. It is about finding your story."
- Pat Beary, Westbury, NY

"Inspiring, freeing, eye opening!"
- Antelo Devereux Jr., Philadelphia, PA

"This was such a moving and expansive experience. A powerful way of learning."
- Nadine Vanorsdel, Reston, VA


Sean Kernan

Sean Kernan is a photographer, writer, and teacher who came to photography from theater. He is the author of several books, including Looking Into The Light: Creativity and Photography,  The Secret Books (with Jorge Luis Borges), and  Among Trees.
He has exhibited at galleries and museums across the US and the world,  including: Centre Regional de la Photographie, Duchy, France; Biblioteca Alexandrina, Egypt; Photosynkiria, Thessaloniki, Greece; William Benton Museum; Museo de la Ciudad, Queretaro, Mexico; Friends of Photography (San Francisco); Wesleyan University, Connecticut; Whitney Museum (New York), and has created media performance pieces at MASS MoCA, Guggenheim Projects in New York, and Portland Performing Arts Festival. He is currently working on a theater/dance/multimedia piece, Drowned.
He has produced and directed two documentaries, The Kampala Boxing Club, about boxing in Africa, and Crow Stories, about the Crow Reservation in Montana, and contributed the concept for the CBS film, To America, and served as Associate Producer.
His photos have been published in the New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, New York, Harpers, Bloomberg, Communication Arts, Graphis, Polyrama (Switzerland), Photo World (China), as well as magazines in Iran, Greece, Italy, and Switzerland, and he has done a wide range of advertising work for clients such as AT&T, Amex, GE, Pratt & Whitney, Dow Jones, Harvard,  and Knoll,
He has taught and lectured at the New School/Parsons, Art Center (Pasadena), Yale Medical School, International Center for Photography, University of Texas, Wesleyan University, and has won numerous awards, most recently from the Center in Santa Fe for teaching, as well as a Doctorate  (HC) from Art Center in Pasadena. He writes and lectures about creativity, the arts and commerce, with articles in Communication Arts, Graphis, and Lenswork, among others.
© Sean Kernan

Course Dates

Aug 2 to Aug 8



Class Size