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NOTE: This Class will meet in a live, online format using the Zoom Platform
Class meets 10am-1pm ET for five sessions (Jun 7, Jun 9, Jun 11, Jun 15, Jun 18)

‘Looking into the Light’ with Sean Kernan

For a long time I’ve been thinking about what I’ve called “the hard class,” one that could be the beginning of a long arc toward making work that is truly artistic and truly our own. It’d be a serious class, a demanding class that practices stepping beyond what we already know and do, going into a place where we set aside our habits and ideas and view our world as it is — beautiful and ugly, serene and alarming, as it is, and always dynamic. 

If that sounds like a life’s work, this could be start.

The form of the class will be different than usual, changed by circumstances. We won’t have the anthill atmosphere of a workshop that we might get in Maine. Instead we’ll form a cloud community and find ways to make a different kind of connection with one another.

The timeline will be different too. The class will meet online every other day, with extra days between the 4th and 5th meetings to allow time to develop and elaborate a final assignment. In addition, there will be an eclectic series of readings and film viewings, and discussions of these.

The early thrust of the workshop will be to reacquaint ourselves with a child-like kind of open-eyed and open-minded presence. We’ll teach the eye to wait, we’ll explore making photos with the mind and heart, then ask them who they are. Above all we’ll surprise ourselves! Every day we will do exercises and assignments that take us to a direct experience of our own creativity, then practice it in our work.

We will make new photographs in response to provocative and innovative daily assignments and get in-class response. The entire repertory of assignments and exercises is designed to take us back toward a kind of awareness that is the basis of creativity and art. Think of it as naked awareness.

Over the course of the workshop we will pursue:

-A direct introduction to pure creativity, with a focus on photography as both motive and vehicle for exploring it.
-A basket of prompts and activities that we can go to at any time.
-A series of exercises and assignments, some of which call on other forms to expand and/or connect our photographic seeing with other mediums and expressions.
-A renewed and expanded practice of the art of photography.


In an in-person workshop most of the out-of-class time is devoted to assignments, reading, and artistic contemplation. Although we will not be at a location removed from home and its concerns, participants should count on spending significant time between classes in these same activities. 

We will begin classes at 10 am ET, run for 2-3 hours. There will be assignments that might take 2 hours or more to complete, with the extra day between classes for redoing and furthering. In addition, there will be times when we will have an evening meeting to go over some flash assignments and look at videos.

I will be setting up one-on-one meetings during the course of the workshop, and we will set up a message board so students (and I) can confer, raise questions, etc.

I’m also putting together a list of video viewings that I would like to watch as a class either using Zoom screen sharing or some other method.  

If you have questions or want to talk about the workshop, email me. [email protected]

All images ©Sean Kernan

Instructor: Sean Kernan

Sean Kernan is a widely-exhibited photographer, writer, film maker and teacher, and has focused deeply on an exploration of creativity in our photography and lives. He is the author of The Secret Books (with Jorge Luis Borges), Among Trees (with Anthony Doerr), Darrell Petit: In Stone, and Looking Into the Light, which explores creativity and photography. In recent years he has made several award-winning films: Crow Stories, The Kampala Boxing Club, A Mind of Winter, and The Visitor. His photography has been exhibited and published in France, Mexico, Egypt, Greece, China, Italy, Switzerland, Iran, Korea, and across the U.S. He has also collaborated with the dance company of choreographer Alison Chase on a theater/dance/multimedia work, Drowned that premiered at MASS MoCA. Clients include AT&T, Knoll, GE, Pratt and Whitney, New York Times, Smithsonian, Bloomberg, Harvard. He has taught and lectured at the New School/Parsons, Art Center Pasadena, Yale Medical School, ICP, and the University of Texas, and he has written for Communication Arts, Lenswork, and Graphis.