Sunday, March 4, 2007

Workshop Information

Environmental Portraiture Photo Workshops

WindRose, 2018, Photo By: Shelby Lee Adams

I will be teaching environmental lighting in general annually every Mid-May for a 3 & 1/2 day period, we will study the contribution or distraction of the environment and background and how to light in diverse ways. Various approaches to lighting the eyes and face, engaging the subject/model, creating a look that communicates, making challenging compositions, the histogram exposure, mixing ambient light with strobe and balancing color temperatures are some of the refinements. The student will come away with more understanding of this multi-faceted process. When a group works together, assisting and sharing their successes and failures making photographs, everyone learns.
—Shelby Lee Adams

At the bottom of this blog you will find additional information.

Submission of work and registration:

 Step 1. A 12 to 15 image folio is required for admission. Students can submit low res. Jpegs by e-mail, use WeTransfer or Road Runner to submit a PDF to instructors e-mail address or just send a link to your site designating your folio for review. Because of spammers, Google recommends not to link e-mail address here. E-Mail separately. — 

         Step 2. An approximate 20 min. phone interview with instructor is required, after submitting photos for admission, send phone numbers. Students should also bring a folio of 12 to 15 prints or digital slides to view or project and share with the class for critiques. Prints preferred. The work should be recent or a long term project-where the feedback would give you ideas for more work or directions to consider, we will discuss avenues for exhibits and publications. Each student will receive approximately a 1/2 hour focused critique with entire class. 

       Step 3.After your portfolio and phone interview and you are accepted into the class, a $150.00 deposit is required to reserve your place in workshop. This holds your position. If workshop is cancelled for any reason, this fee will be refunded, minus a small PayPal fee,  prefer PayPal payments or mailed checks.

        Step 4. The remaining $500.00 fee must be paid 30 days in advance of start date [May 10th]. This includes a $50.00 fee charged for model fees. Will Accept PayPal or personal checks. During phone interviews, additional information will be provided. If students need to withdraw from workshop, they will receive full refund of their $150.00 registration fee. At 30 days before the workshop date is scheduled to begin the additional  $500.00 fee must be paid. After the 30 day date and before the workshop begins—students are expected to attend and full refunds cannot be guaranteed. Attendance, once committed is important to maintain the program unity with only 4 to 6 students making a full class. Again, the deadline date to register or withdraw once posted is 30 days. The exact dates of workshop - Evening of May 10th - Sunday May 13th.

 If workshop is cancelled for any reason by instructor, and students have paid the total $650.00 fee, refunds will be in full, minus [if used] Pay Pal's minimum processing fees.

             Students are to bring their own camera's and have a working knowledge of how to use them. Students will process images with their own laptops during the workshop. We will discuss the optimum work flow with photoshop. I consider this an intermediate to advanced photo workshop. Approaching people, learning how to relate and work with others is an emphasis of this workshop, the photographer will share important experiences from his new book. We will study psychologically how different lighting affects our perceptions of others and the viewers interpretations. How we find or develop our own visual sensitivity, create our personal style and manner of working comes from studying others work, experimenting and working with many tools.

               Technically we will work with a variety of lighting equipment, umbrellas, reflectors, soft boxes, ring light, honeycomb grids, Pocket Wizards and the important placement of light itself affecting the compositions and our models. A darkroom is available for someone who might wish to develop traditional film. But, I think time is limited to developing negatives and making contact sheets only. Most students today work digitally, camera formats and process will be open and discussed individually in phone interviews. Having external sync capabilities on your camera is important. More details with recommended lodging and public transportation are below. Contact me with any questions. 

Shelby Lee Adams



Here are photos, outtakes and information made by models, teaching assistant, teacher and students during our photo workshop held May 11th - 14th, 2017; in the photographer's home and at Arrowhead, the historic and famous Herman Melville's home.

    This photo of Tom Crow [model] was taken by Shelby at a rehearsal session at Arrowhead before the photo workshop. Unfortunately due to illness Tom could not attend.

Lior, one of our models photographed by Shelby at The Herman Melville Home, Arrowhead.

Donny, model for workshop, photo by Shelby in studio.

 Photo by student Susan James of Shelby and student Agnieszka Sosnowska in photography studio.

Lior, photo by Susan James, made in photographers home.

Photo by Patrick Banister at Arrowhead.

Photo of Adrianne Ryan assisting Agnieszka at Arrowhead.

Agnieszka's self-portrait with Donny, photo made at Arrowhead.

"This was my first time taking a workshop. I signed up to learn about various methods of artificial lighting and strobes. 

It was such an incredible experience. I am still thinking about it. As photographers we came from such different places in the world. It was so great to share work and talk about the process of picture taking. Where I live I don't often get the privilege of such an exchange. It was really special.

 I think if I decide to do a workshop in the future they might not measure up to what we experienced as a group with Shelby. Like I said this was my first foray in the workshop world!"

— Agnieszka Sosnowska

Photo made by Agnieszka of Lior at Arrowhead.

Shelby and photo assistant Paul Lewis, working with Adrianne Ryan photographing Lior in photographer's home.

Adrianne photographing Lior in photographer's home.

Lior by Adrianne photographed at Arrowhead.

 Adrianne photographing using I-phone at Misty Moonlight Diner.

Photo by Paul of Donny [model] at Arrowhead.

Traditionally, I have always ask the teaching assistant in my workshops to present and share their personal work.
 Title: Symbol, occurrence caused by smoke and fire damage, defining shadows and forms of pottery on a wallpaper landscape. A series by
Paul Lewis using I-phone 4.

Photo by Patrick at Arrowhead.

Student Evaluation

I have nothing but great things to say about this intimate four day, small group, information and experience rich photography workshop in the Berkshires with Shelby Lee Adams. 

This lighting workshop placed Shelby's work and his approach to portraiture in the context of his contemporaries and his sources of inspiration. There were informal conversations over coffee, thumbing through books from Shelby's personal library.  And there were slightly more formal presentations on Mary Ellen Mark, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn (to name a few) that were projected on a screen set up in the front room of Shelby's home.

Photo shoot day took place in Melville's Arrowhead home.  Shelby (with the help of a teaching assistant and two models) made sure there was plenty of opportunity for setting up scenes in different rooms. It was a busy day, but Shelby ensured ample time for personalized attention and individualized coaching to each of the workshop participants. 

I highly recommend this workshop for the enthusiast or emerging artist looking to expand their off-camera portrait lighting skills through mix of theory, practice and social interaction.

—Susan James

After teaching photo workshops for over 25 years across the country, I feel the best learning experiences are often simulations of what an engaging relationship is really like. When I began teaching, I used to try and find for my workshops authentic, exuberant or hard-lived people, much like I photograph back home in Kentucky. They are most everywhere, but when teaching a class with lots of cameras, many absorbing and gazing eyes, some of the less photographed and more sensitive people get a bit spooked and understandably close themselves. For our workshop we will have both a male and female model that are experienced posing for photographers. You will be able to concentrate more on photographing your subjects, applying new skills studied and practiced in the workshop, later to adapt new approaches and processes within your own special environments and with your own unique people.

WindRose [model], photographed at Herman Melville's Arrowhead, a commissioned photograph now selected to be published by the Berkshire Historical Society for a poster to advertise their 2017 summer activities.

Martha Petting Puppy, October 2016, Shelby Lee Adams©2016, Wolf Creek, KY
[This kind of lighting diagram will be studied]

I offer one workshop per year, Mid-May. Each workshop will have from 4 to 6 students. In this way the small class will facilitate a personal exchange between all students together with the instructor. The fee for this 3 & 1/2 day workshop will be $650.00 total, students must reserve their own lodgings.  The first evening beginning the workshop will start at 6:00 PM on a Thursday night. That nights meeting food and drinks will be provided, a reception for all participants, ending with the instructor's slide presentation. Classes on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will start at 10:00AM each day and end at 5:00PM. There are many unique facilities close by in our area for students to stay. Two recommended hotels are listed here, one in walking distance. Do a Google search to explore other availabilities. Several diverse ethnic restaurants are close by and instructor will make reservations for us as a group for dinners. Individually or with others, evenings you are welcome to explore the area.

Lodging: Two close hotels recommended, The Berkshire Inn of Pittsfield, more affordable, less than a mile away. 
The Crowne Plaza Hotel, {new name and management - Berkshire Plaza Hotel] more expensive, easy walking distance.
Other hotels and Bed and Breakfasts are close by.

Public Transportation: From NYC the most convenient way is to take the train from Penn Station to Hudson, NY. Depending on arrival times arrangements to pick you up will have to be made. There are local car services that can be booked from Hudson to Pittsfield. If flying, the closest airport is Albany, NY, a 50 min. drive, arrangements will have to be made for airport pickup or car rentals. Train from Boston to Pittsfield is direct and close by.

Our one day photographing on location will be on a Saturday. Location for the 2018 workshop will be in Stockbridge, Mass. The class will be divided into 2 or 3 groups with a teaching assistant or myself with each group throughout the day. Each group will be provided with a model and we will rotate groups and models. Photographing within unique environments all students will have the opportunity to photograph models with a series of lighting techniques and diverse equipment. Professional lighting eq. will be provided.  Lunch will be catered for our Saturday location session, assuring optimum photographing

 The demands of working in unknown locations, familiarizing ourselves with our model or subject, creating collaboratively a satisfying and revealing image, with the environment as apart or as a minimal abstract element, adding studio lighting or not, all often overwhelms; yet these decisions create, challenges and stimulate our photography. You may be contemplating purchasing and working with lighting gear and this workshops hands on experience can be beneficial. To see and learn how different lighting affects and presents our subject, psychologically and technically is limitless.  

          We will study in slides, Robert Bergman, Mary Ellen Mark, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, O. Winston Link, Jock Sturges, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Jeff Jacobson and Larry Fink, among other historical and important portrait photographers. Paintings have influenced many photographers, such works by Rembrandt to Odd Nerdrum, have inspired many and will be studied. Original photographs by Mary Ellen Mark and Jock Sturges will be available for study, among others like Clarence John Laughlin. A few video shorts will also be shown from Shelby's work in Kentucky with his exhibition prints.  During our slide studies, stories from other photographers presentations about their techniques and experiences explaining how specific photographs were executed and completed, each always differently, can be informative. Seriously made photographs challenge, teach and reveal something about us all together.

Below is a paragraph describing how my work has evolved with those I know:

“While visiting and re-photographing my subjects from year to year, our relationships grow and mature. My visual approach shifts as an individual might change, as we become more acquainted and invested in each other's lives. When photographing, I encourage folks to experience themselves within, to bring up, to give, even to give-out a part of their inner being, to strengthen themselves by doing so because many are generous people. I ask folks to look directly and straightforwardly into the camera, to concentrate, center themselves, and to search for their reflection in the camera’s lens. At that moment of they're finding and seeing their own reflection, I press the cable release.”
—Shelby Lee Adams

             Students are to bring their own camera's and have a working knowledge of how to use them. Students will process images with their own laptops during the workshop. We will discuss the optimum work flow with photoshop. I consider this an intermediate to advanced photo workshop. Approaching people, learning how to relate and work with others is an emphasis of this workshop, the photographer will share important experiences. We will study psychologically how different lighting affects our perceptions of others and the viewers interpretations. How we find or develop our own visual sensitivity, create our personal style and manner of working comes from studying others work, experimenting and working with many tools.

               Technically we will work with a variety of lighting equipment, umbrellas, reflectors, soft boxes, ring light, honeycomb grids, Pocket Wizards and the important placement of light itself affecting the compositions. A darkroom is available for those who wish to develop traditional film. But, I think time is limited to developing negatives and making contact sheets only. Most students today work digitally, camera formats and process will be open and discussed individually in phone interviews. More details to be posted. Contact me with any questions. 

Shelby Lee Adams
Updated and Posted Jan. 9, 2018



Last N.Y.C. Photo Workshop

August 15th - 19th, 2016
International Center of Photo, NYC

Environmental Portraiture

Model - Lior Alley, photo by Shelby Lee Adams, made during photo workshop, Mid August 2016

Students photo of Shelby photographing, Photo by Kara Hudgens

Students worked with Profoto B1 500 Watt lighting systems.

Photo by Hadley Henry

Part of our crew.
From Left to Right, Argus, Nick [photo assistant], An [photo assistant], model Tracy.

Photo by Kara Hudgens
Example of Rear-curtin-Sync.

Photo by Janet Susin

Photo by Kara Hudgens

Special thanks to all our assistants Paul Barcena Mapi, An Jozef Debie and Nick Zanetti and of course the staff of the International Center of Photograph with special thanks to Chaska Jurado, Karen Furth and The Mayor's office for Central Park-park permits.


Jan. 8th, 2016 Workshop at ICP

To view as slide show only click on any image.

ICP Jan. 5th - Jan. 8th Photo Workshop, 2016

Some Images from Jan. 2016 ICP Workshop

Model "Darius"
Photo by Shelby

On Location with students.
Photo, Larry Ford, TA

Prep. for model, "Dayne's" Session.
Photographer, Larry Ford, TA

Discussion while viewing exhibition prints, ICP studio.
Photo: Jeenah Moon, TA

Musician in front of Bed, Jan. 2016 workshop. Mixed lighting.
Photo By Shelby

Student Photographer - Dana Nancy deLaski
Model: Larissa

Location: Penthouse, Night Hotel, Times Square, NYC, 2016


Photographer's photo presented to discuss metering and exposure.
Three Sisters, 2011, Shelby - Photo.
[Further discussions on relationships to subjects, and their input and response to photo.]

Grand Central Terminal Building Location, where Shelby's workshop's have been held before.

Introducing and discussing different lighting techniques, Shelby uses in his work.
Saul, 2015, photo by Shelby

With the subjects input from viewing photos in-between sessions over the years, we collaboratively work with varied approaches.
Saul and wife, 2013

Halloween, Chroma, Kentucky, 2015, photo by Shelby.

          "Each of us responds differently to the same stimulus and especially to photographs that are informed from our personal and past circumstances. A photograph is perceived with varied eyes and many points of view, identifying infinite possibilities and importantly something about ourselves’. Yet, we find only what is within us, to recognize. It takes some kind of transformation, to clearly see. Sometimes, this happens to those searching, a benevolent personal makeover occurs, a touch to ones heart making whole, gives the gift to see an interconnected—humankind."

From Essay: Neighbors Look

Shelby Lee Adams

Summer Workshops

Central Park, Bethesda Fountain area.
New York City  August 10th - 14th, 2015

Shelby Photo, made during ICP workshop
Bethesda Fountain Location
Central Park, NYC

Summer 2014

"Chloe," Photo made during Summer 14' Photo workshop by Shelby
Central Park, NYC

Examples of Photographers recent work to be studied.

Above photo process below. Title: Oma, 2014

              Oma, 2014, this photo was made last October in Kentucky with Oma Collins a friend of 30 + years. So a relationship is established. I gave her and her husband photos from my summer visit earlier that year and this nightgown caught my eye. So we photographed Oma in the black dress she had on with hanging nightgown. I placed 2 - 500watt tungsten Lowel lights in the background, faced into the ceiling to warm up and define the background. Then placing two strobe lights in silver umbrellas near Oma, changing the lighting ratios to study different effects. Then placing a sharper and more direct Nikon speed light on Lernion [man sitting in chair]. Counting the ambient room light, used 6 light sources in total. Pocket Wizards sync everything together and we made photographs.  F32 handheld at 1/2 to 1/4 sec. to allow the background hot lights time to burn in. The foreground flash and speed light exposed Oma at 1/400 of a sec. flash duration.

Connie, 2014

                         Had photographed Connie 20 years ago. She moved around from place to place,  and we lost touch until last summer. When we reconnected, she asked me to photograph her again, because I had given her photos from 20 years before. 
In this case I had two friends working with me as assistants. One assistant placed a single omni spot light on a pole lamp with one snoot and angled up quite high in the background. Directing light through materials into doorway and on Connie's hair and shoulders. Two strobe lights were placed left and right of Connie with one light on right being turned to block part of the light from the subjects face, both light reflector's - silver umbrella's. The left light was mask with frosted tissue, being careful to keep some reflection in subjects eyes. Aperture on camera was reduced to get the exact blending of light I wanted in camera and we made several photos, while engaging Connie in conversation.


Jan. 20 - 23, 2015

Title: "Your Voice In Portrait Lighting"

Workshop Definition:

It is my approach in photographing people that we, observe, create, and form a space of intimacy and directness where both your subjects and the photographer are comfortable. A photo workshop I consider a simulation preparing us for the joys and difficulties we encounter and need to photograph in life. A great photograph can be made during one of these workshops, but the emphasis should be on learning as much as possible in an accelerated manner.   

 Lighting is often introduced indirectly, combined with the natural available light often illuminating a part of the subject and backgrounds. Lighting ratios, the psychology of light placement, how the light affects your subject, are all important to the overall composition, while reading and applying the histograms correctly and creatively.

 Know that the background and environment is important to your subject, no matter how minimal. You find and create a container of space, a safe or tense balance or zone if you will - expressing yourselves together – photograph your subject’s inner expressions, states of mind, and feelings—unguarded. 

Intuitively you learn to release yourself unmasking working with your subject, finding and expressing your voice together creating a collaborative vision. Make a thousand photographs and views if necessary when learning and we are always learning and seeing differently.

 Mastering the craft and techniques, discovering and creating yourself, finding your style and personal vision, applying your approach to representing all of us, interconnecting with another and everyone, solidifies your personal vision: all takes a lifetime. When learning—photography should be a joyful experience, as an instructor of many years, it seems—one retains more when excited about something. To inspire that excitement with photography is my job. Later, one applies their acquired knowledge from such workshops to the complex world we each represent and live in. 

Shelby Lee Adams

Photo By Moth Dust

Instructor discussing the work of Annie Leibovitz and how she achieves specific lighting effects. We study the work of Dr. Howard Egerton, Mary Ellen Mark, Larry Fink, Jeff Jacobson, Joey Lawrence, Robert Bergman among many other photographers works, studying digital slides. Instructor has had many interviews and attended lectures with many photographer's and their assistants, sharing knowledge. 

Photo: Moth Dust
Instructor shares his own original prints, discussing his relationships to subjects and how the prints are made.


Photo©Moth, 2015





Colorado Photographic Arts Center
Denver, Colorado
May 2nd, 3rd and 4th, 2014

Valerie, 2014
The Colorado Photographic Arts Center
Denver, CO.

Photo Crew at The Colorado Photo Arts Center, May 2014


Your Voice in Portrait Lighting
Jan. 2014

International Center of Photography

Student Photographer - Nicolas Enriquez Velez
Full-time program in PJ at ICP
[Example-Flash Speed Duration.]

Halloween 2013

In this series, we are demonstrating what one can do with two speed lights handheld, at night, in the streets of NYC, with a full frame digital camera, hand held.

Times Square, NYC

Times Square, 2013

Weed Man, 2013

Halloween, Times Square, 2013

Above photos by Shelby Lee Adams, made with the assistance of Adam Bernstein and Adam Buteux, using hand held Nikon Speed lights. Final folio consist of 12 images.

To all the great people in Times Square who allowed us to photograph them, a sincere Thank You.

©Shelby Lee Adams 2013


Photo Workshops 2010 - 13

Lila and Thoth, 2013 
ICP Workshop, Summer, Central Park, NYC

Marelena, Photo By: Shelby, 2010, Venice Beach, CA
Julia Dean Workshop

Kelly and Dale, Palm Springs Photo Workshop, CA,  2011
Photo by: Shelby Lee Adams



Aperture, NYC

July 13th - 14th, 2013

Aperture, 547 West 27th Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10001
“Seeing, connecting, and nurturing love while recalling and sharing the more difficult times requires a balanced perspective. It can be tender, or tough and thorny, but all parts are necessary to integrate visually and intellectually.” —Shelby Lee Adams, Salt and Truth (2011)

Aperture Environmental Portraiture


Critiquing work during Aperture Workshop, July 2013

Location Aperture Workshop: Tompkins Sq. Park
Shelby's Photo. 2013


Student work from Aperture Workshop
Tompkins Sq. Park - 2013

Linda Cicero

Anne M. Connor



Photos below from:
ICP Sponsored Workshop Summer 2012

International Center of Photography, On Location with Shelby's Environmental Portrait photo workshop, One Week Annual course - August 2012, NYC

Bethesda Fountain Area
Central Park


Critiquing work with students.

Having discussion on photo in Bryant Park with students.

International Center of Photography
5 day workshop.

Self-Portrait, December 2012
[Background lighting, room - tungsten bulb,
foreground speed light using Orbis light modifier.]



 "Your Voice in Portrait Lighting."
Jan. 2013

Larissa Marie, 2013
Photo made by Shelby in ICP studio with students participating during 4 day workshop.


The Center for Photography at Woodstock

Woodstock, NY

August 2012 Weekend Workshop

Shelby and student reviewing histograms at Portia Munson and Jared Handelsman's 
unique farm in Round Top, NY, with model in swing.
Photo by photo assistant Alex Myers

Discussing lighting with students on location in Woodstock.
Photo by Alex Myers

All photographs and text copyrighted - © 1978 - 2017 Shelby Lee Adams, legal action will be taken to represent the photographer, the work taken out of context, subjects and integrity of all photographic and written works, including additional photographers published and authors quoted. Permissions - send e mail request with project descriptions.

Click on  Older Post - Bottom right for:

Kentucky Photo Exhibit Summer 2008

Quotes and Vision
Stenger's Cafe
Middle East

Grand Central Terminal Building, NYC, Student Photo.