Workshop Opinion

I’ve announced the Central Park Workshop for Saturday, August 15th, at 9 A.M.  You can register / pay by going to link below.  First come, first served.  Limited to five people (at most 7).


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I’ll put up a page over the weekend for registration and payment.  I’d like to keep it to five people, but if there’s a big demand, I’ll go as high as seven.  I will email anyone who’s expressed interest once the page is up.  The things I know: Fee $75 for about two or three hours.  Date: Saturday, August 15. Time: probably 9:00 a.m.  If there’s something crazy weather-wise, like a hurricane, I’ll postpone it to Sunday.  But if it’s just general rain, the show goes on.  No Tripods.  We may spend part of the time in the Metropolitan Museum.  (It costs whatever you wish to donate, i.e. I usually give a dollar).   I’ll have a laptop that can take CF or SD cards so we can transfer files.  I have the latest version of Lightroom, but I don’t know if it will read whatever raw files you have, so it might be a good idea to shoot RAW + JPGs.  Not for beginners.  The main idea is to be able to discuss and experiment with shooting techniques, composition etc.  In other words, I would hope not to have to discuss things like exposure, except in terms of artistic implications… In other words, not so much about “correct” exposure, or “what to focus on” but how photographic technique can be used artistically.  If you want to shoot film – I have nothing against that – but there won’t be reviews.

More later…

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Let’s say I was to offer a workshop in Central Park.  I would think the weekend would be the best time.  In terms of light, (though who knows what the weather will be) the morning would be best.  Say 10 AM.

I don’t know how many people would be interested, but I can’t see doing this with more than five people, and being able to give any sort of individual attention.  Which is better, a Saturday morning or Sunday morning?  I’d guess Saturday morning would be more convenient.

What would I cover?  I think we’d meet at my favorite spot, Bethesda Fountain, and walk around shooting.  I’d expect everyone would have digital cameras (?), and I’d have my laptop or a DVD player that can display images as well, with me and as we go around I could try and give pointers; or you could watch me shoot.  We could then find a nice shady spot and either put the photos on my laptop, or your own if you have one and begin to review them. I don’t think it’s enough to simply look at the images on the back of the camera.  I suspect that there are a bunch of technical things that I’m doing that I’m not even aware of.

No cancellations for weather.  If it turns out to be raining – then wear a raincoat and bring an umbrella.  I shoot in the rain all the time, and it might actually give us the best pictures.

Something might come out of this, and then we’d pick another spot.  Work our way through Poet’s Walk.  Talk about how to approach a) people and b) the scenic quality etc.  Some more shooting and some more reviewing.  In other words a sort of field trip with review and hopefully some tips picked up.  Say the whole thing lasts two hours, more or less.

Payment would be in advance through paypal (first come first served) and would cost $75 per person.  The outing would be an experiment, for all of us.  It might turn out to be valuable, or it might not.

I would give at least a month’s notice before the event.  And that would be the whole thing.  Start small and see how it goes.

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– Travel light.  I’ll be working as I usually do with two lenses at most.

– No tripods allowed.  For all I know we may swing over into a subway at some point.

– Zoom lenses are not recommended.  If that’s all you have, then fine.  But I would suggest prime lenses.

– If you’re shooting film, that’s fine with me, but no instant review.

– Be prepared for extremes in weather, i.e. really hot, or rain.  I’m thinking mid-August.

– This is about b&w shooting.  If there’s enough interest, I can bring the digital infrared camera along as well.

– And if you’re coming from out-of-town, you really want to arrive the night before, because the earlier we get going, the better.

That’s about all I can think of right now; but as always – open to suggestions.


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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

22 thoughts on “Workshop Opinion”

  1. I adhere to the Adam Smith school of art: competition makes the product better. I think you should make it into a contest, in which the monthly winner gets his fees refunded. You, of course, would be the judge of the best student photo of the month and you would post it on your site. Recognition and recompense would ensure a steady stream of contestants.

  2. I would fly to NYC from AZ to attend such a workshop. I was in Central Park in the rain last Saturday taking photos (flew in Thursday, flew back to AZ on Sunday). I made the trip to attend a neighborhood reunion (strange, I know) from where I grew up in Parsippany, NJ. I can’t speak for the rest of the viewing public, but, looking at your photos as I have over the years, if I could take even just one or two pointers away from a workshop with you, it would be worth many times $75 and the airfare/hotel.

    Tom Polen

  3. If I would be able to make the trip from Omaha, you can bet your bottom dollar that I would attend an outing with you in 1/8000 of a shutter flicker! By that time I may be able to, you’ll be up to charging four times the price for the popular, exclusive privilege! 🙂

    Though, aside from Lester and Matt, that I can think of off the top of my head from regularly reading your site (and who can go out shooting with you whenever they want without fee), do you have many other, already in-town’ers who could/would partake of this? Or, are the bulk of us like, me, Mr. Polen before me, or Richo, Phill, D. Brent or – … who are out of town, state, country?

  4. Thanks… Well, I’ll have to see, which is why I’m posting this and I’m going to keep this post at the top of the blog for a while… but it’s true, personally, I only know a few photographers and they can walk around with me for free all they want; though maybe I should start charging them 🙂 I expect this is the sort of thing that builds slowly, if at all – word of mouth – blog posts; pictures from the workshop etc. Sorry – no prizes (I’m really anti that whole competition thing, though it does seem to be another business necessity). But in a week or so, I’ll put up details as to time and place, how to pay etc. and see if I can garner 5 people or so. If I can’t, I’ll refund the money. And yes – it is very cheap, but also pretty unstructured at this point which is probably the way a street shoot should be anyway.

  5. My initial reaction was that $75 was underpriced. But I agree that let it fly at that point and see what happens. Tom, where in AZ do you live? I’m in the Phoenix area and I, too, would fly to NYC for this (but, then again, I also grew up in NJ)! The schedule of events sounds great.

  6. It is underpriced, but I have a feeling that I’ll learn quite a bit about how this sort of thing works from the first outing, so I don’t feel right charging market rates for the first session. On the other hand, unless you charge something – I’m afraid that less serious people will show up. If the group feels guilty about the money, you can take me out to lunch afterwards 🙂 We can eat at the Boathouse. Food so-so, but the view makes up for it.

  7. Dave, I think it’s a great idea and if I didn’t live on the other side of the world, I’d love to join in.

    One point that you may or may not have thought of but immediately came to me was;

    What about the range of experience of participants?

    Have you thought of advertising it as a semi-advanced course or you may spend your day explaining focus techniques, ISO, shutter speeds, etc rather than the nuances of street photography.

    If you are, however just advertising this through your web site and blog, this may have already been taken care of.

    What about a second course on the art of selling images on the web?

    Best of luck

  8. Phill – that’s a very good point, and when I put up the details in the blog, I will definitely mention that this is for for as you say semi-advanced (if that’s the right phrase). I think the perfect participant would be technically proficient, but not very experienced with candid shooting. I also think that this is a very tricky subject to teach, as compared to say nature photography. Most of the workshops that I’ve seen, the expensive “we’ll show you all the secret places in xyz” and rent out an inn every night and do critiques — these are all scenic, nature etc. I picked Central Park because I thought it would be a good place to start, but I could see the group moving into more difficult places (the subway, Times Square etc.) As you know, you can be the best street shooter in the world and be out all day and not return with a single good shot. On the other hand, you can just walk out of your house and there it is waiting for you.

  9. “semi-advanced (if that’s the right phrase)”

    I’m, not sure if these are the correct words either. Perhaps something along the lines of “this workshop will focus on the art rather than the craft of street photography”.

    Hmmm, too wanky??

  10. I think you’ll get some great reaction shots of pedestrians assailed by a phalanx of photographers. Their initial assumption might be that you’re all paparazzi and there must be an a-lister somewhere near-by. But when they find themselves as subjects, they may fear the worst: “Did someone find those photos I downloaded to my computer?” or “Am I that far behind in alimony payments?”

  11. I was experimenting with street shooting on Mill Avenue in Tempe when I came upon a gaggle of photographers, all armed with high-end DSLRs and on-camera strobes. They were being led around by a teacher (also so armed) and I asked one of the participants “what is the class?’ and she giggled and replied “street photography.” I skulked away, only armed with my FTb, 35mm f/2 FD lens and rolls of HP5. Now, they WERE on the shady side of the street, and it was late in the afternoon, but . . . strobes? Somehow I don’t envision your class being like that.

  12. I can assure you that anyone with strobes, or even popup flash will be banished to Tempe. I also don’t imagine that we will be a gaggle of any kind. Maybe for a few minutes in the beginning, but the idea will be to quickly be able to separate and meet up again; separate and meet up again. And I’d really advise participants to think about what I’d call their costume. The tourist costume, at least in a tourist area, is a good one. As I wrote in my article recently, I would often have a tourist map with me in one hand, and be shooting with the other. I even pretended, when I visited the Empire State Building, not to understand English. (I kid you not.) Different approaches for different locales. The same tourist bit might get you murdered in some parts of the Bronx.

    You know, there are well known street photographers, or at least one that I know of – that will use strobes – and run up to old ladies and stick the strobe in their face; but that is a no-no. I would like to sort of get the basic street photography rules down. It’s like learning scales on the piano. Once you are comfortable with the rules of the game, it is always possible to break them later.

  13. I think that the “Strobe on the Streets” is inspired by the unique confrontational technique practiced by Diane Arbus.

  14. Required attire for the Beckerman Street Shooting Seminar:

    1. Bermuda shorts, cuffed one to three inches above the knee.
    2. Tee-shirt with “I Love NY” logo.
    3. Polyester neon-colored fanny pack, overstuffed with brochures and NYC subway map.
    4. Baseball cap with Mets, Jets, Nets, or Yankees logo.
    5. Very dark sunglasses.
    6. White tube socks and sandles.

  15. I was reading about an annual workshop with 4 contemporary portrait photographers, called Learn Fest ( For $2,700+ you get 4 instructors, a longer event, and some social atmosphere. By contrast, 2 hours with Dave Beckerman for $75 would be a steal. Wish I could attend. (Clyde Butcher down in the Everglades does some similar events, mucking around in the swamps.)

  16. David,
    I’ve found your website and I’m impressed how similar are our photos and creative sensibilities.
    Even when I still have to sell my first photo. But this was never my first priority, I still have to learn a lot.
    You can see for yourself at my website
    I would be happy to learn from you, please let me know how can I pay for the workshop.

    Thank you, Jacob

  17. I’ll put up a page where people can register / pay for the workshop once I settle on a date. Will email anyone who has expressed interest in it.

    Your photos are very similar to mine – though I might be able to open you up to photographing candid New Yorkers… unless you’ve got that down and just haven’t posted those on your site.



  18. Thank you David.
    I’m not sure about candids, at this point I’m fascinated with geometry of lines and shapes and try to create interesting compositions from them. I don’t mind using people in my compositions but only as addition not as a main element.

    As you can see from my website I came long way since I’ve resumed my photography in 2002.
    I say “resumed” because I did commercial photography in Russia back in 80-s (weddings, kindergardens) to support my family because I was low paid computer engineer then. It was illegal in the Soviet Union, so I risked my freedom by taking pictures.
    In 1989 I’ve come to the US but picked up photography again only in 2002. So I’ve spent time shooting color landscapes, then doing 3D modeling – realistic and surrealistic.
    But it seems to me that only when I’ve switched to black and white urban geometrical composition I’ve got something going.

    I’ve studied your writings on your blog site, great job!
    I also admire your pictures. Now you will be my inspiration.

    I’m looking forward to meeting you in August.

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