Discover how to capture expressive portraits with Sean Kernan. Explore photographic techniques in light, composition, presence and fostering a wordless connection between photographer and subject.

Sep 4, 2024 - Sep 20, 2024

Levels: Intermediate, Advanced,
Workshop Fee: $495
Workshop Duration: 10 hours over 5 sessions (Wed, Tues, Fri, Tues, Fri, 10am-12pm ET)
Workshop Location: Online
Class Size: 10

Note: This workshop will be held in a live, online format utilizing the Zoom platform.
Class meets Sep 4, 10, 13, 17 & 20 from 10am-12pm ET.

The best portrait is one that surprises us. We don’t know just how we did it, and the effect is profound — the heart, there in the face. It feels as though we’d leaned in to whisper something and found we suddenly couldn’t speak. There we’d be, drowning in their face while they looked back into a circle of dark glass. It is beautiful and frightening, both at once.

That’s what we are after in this workshop, a wordless connection to another being made into an image. It is about that person, and also about both of us in that moment. We don’t think our way to it, but we know it is there somewhere between us, and in that state we make photographs.

Sister Mexico - Sean Kernan
Sister Mexico – Sean Kernan
Worker - Sean Kernan
Worker – Sean Kernan

In class, we’ll look at dozens of examples of the best portraits to see what we respond to in them. And we’ll dive deeply into the elements of light, composition, place, and presence. But the most important work takes place when we are off with our subjects.

Ula - Sean Kernan
Ula – Sean Kernan
Mark Kindig - Sean Kernan
Mark Kindig – Sean Kernan

The portrait, the picture that is about someone else, involves so many aspects of photography—presence, vision, imagination, light, and composition. Every photographer should do a deep dive into it at least once.

And what really matters most is what you do with all of it afterward. The class is just the beginning.

Prisoner with mirror - Sean Kernan
Prisoner with mirror – Sean Kernan

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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.