Break through your limitations and take photographs that transcend their subject

When our first creative photograph breaks through, it surprises us by completely transcending its subject and becoming something else entirely. The picture happens because we are really and fully awake … and we have no real idea how we got there.  That’s the mystery, and it draws more deeply into photographing.  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.  Over 25 years of teaching and studying, Sean has gathered a series of simple exercises that let us find the way to our creative state by working on the crucial stuff that happens before the click, where the real creative work is done.  Applying the results of these exercises to daily photographic assignments and then responding to the photos gives us the chance to see how they actually work on us and on others.  And as we expand our seeing and awareness, our pictures begin to change, a process that continues long after the class is over.  This is not just a class for the accomplished photographer, (although you should command your camera and the necessary software, and not the other way around). You just need to set aside ideas—limitations and strengths—take some new approaches, and then look carefully at what you’ve done and what has changed.  Awakeness and awareness in a strongly supportive group is our focus, and we will look for it with our cameras, our bodies 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!




Sean Kernan

Sean published his first poem when he was 16, and he decided that if it was that easy he’d just go ahead and be a writer. Then he somehow deflected into theater and photography. But he always maintained some kind of writing practice throughout.

In college he worked as a reporter for the New Haven Register and a bureau assistant for the New York Times. Later he produced a series of articles and interviews on photography and a number of columns on the problems of creativity in the workplace for Communication Arts Magazine.

He also became a pioneering teacher well known for investigating creativity in various disciplines, and based on this work he authored Looking Into the Light. At this point he is nearly finished with one novel, The Invisible Library, and nearly begun another, Old Age, Sickness, and Death: A Comedy. And he has written any number of forewords, afterwords and introductions.

He has published two monographs of photographs, The Secret Books (with Jorge Luis Borges) and Among Trees, (introduction by Anthony Doerr), and has just produced a film, Crow Stories, about life on the Crow Reservation.

He has taught and lectured at Parsons School of Design, Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Maine Media Workshops and Santa Fe Workshops, University of Texas, and Yale Medical School. He has exhibited internationally and won numerous awards, including Center’s 2010 Teacher of the Year and an honorary doctorate from Art Center College of Design.

You can read a short collection of his work, Sean Kernan: the Incomplete Workshere. His website is 


Course Dates

Aug 6 to Aug 12



Class Size