[A] life changing experience. Any class put forward with such little information about content has to be special. This lack of detail promises an instructor with extraordinary depth, skill, and insight. If you’re ready for a paradigm shift, you’ve come to the right place.

Jim Mantock, Richardson, TX

November 2013


That was amazing experience! I could see the difference in the pictures I took on day 1 vs. day 3-5. Jay’s style of teaching and the very direct feedback pushes you to produce better images and to develop a more critical way of looking at ones work. The days are long but this full immersion in the photographic process, the meals, the conversations and looking at thousands of images made it go by too quickly.

Jay is very generous, if he didn’t pay for every meal, if he didn’t open his house to us it would still be and amazingly valuable experience.

Due to this experience I am approaching shooting differently, and in some ways even looking at the world differently. I do intend to come back for more!…

Jay is larger than life and I cannot think of a single moment where I was bored.

Yaniv Gur, Los Altos, CA  

Jay’s enthusiasm and energy are inspiring! I loved the rhythm of shooting, getting feedback, shooting some more. For me, the workshop was an invigorating immersion in making better photographs. I appreciated the emphasis on transparency and asking questions. When I kept at it, I got better at framing and seeing pictures. Now, I need to keep at it so I can come back next year!

Sheila Botein, Atherton, CA  

I had high expectations for Jay’s workshop. I understood there was much to learn. But as I sat in Jay’s studio the first day I quickly realized that I needed to set even higher expectations for myself. Jay’s passion for his work challenged me not only as a photographer but as a person. Jay provided just the right amount of “encouragement” to go out and really look at the world from a whole new perspective, with an open mind and heart. Shooting people has always been difficult for me to do. But I had to set aside my fears and insecurities if I was to learn anything this week. A review of his own work and his critique of my own images and that of others in the workshop was extremely valuable. Engaging discussions on what makes a photo work, study versus non-study were equally helpful. I also very much enjoyed his sharing of quotes from other accomplished photographers about their work and motivation for shooting. Images where I failed to capture the moment were learning experiences for me to look deeper and with more focus. Only then would I be able to better appreciate those things that I otherwise would have or had once overlooked. His instruction taught me to be a more observant and thoughtful photographer. Attending Jay’s workshop was truly inspirational and it is an experience that I will never forget. I will forever do my best to never be “TES” (too easily satisfied). Thank you Jay for helping me to see!

I really enjoyed the group’s photo critique session and I appreciate receiving input from everyone. I know that Jay mentioned a few times how quiet we were during the critique session but I think we were just thinking very much about the information being provided. At least, that is why I was sometimes rather quiet. The instant feedback was key. I also very much enjoyed how direct Jay was during the critique. He didn’t let us off the hook easy. I am glad he didn’t. He challenged me. I also enjoyed hearing all the photographer quotes. They really got me thinking about what I wanted my photos to feel like. I also very much enjoyed seeing Sean Kernan’s work and participating in his exercises. I think it helped to let our guards down.

Sarah Sanchez, Chicago, IL  

To quote Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I am certain that memories of this class will bring a smile to my face for the rest of my days. The thing I most recall now is Jay’s generosity of spirit. I feel so fortunate to have spent time with him, in his incredible building, talking about art, and above all learning from a master.

The high points for me were the sessions of criticism of the work we shot during the week. And of course Friday evening.

Roger Rosner, Mountain View, CA  

It was exhausting and intense.

Jay at the beginning encouraged us to ask questions. So I did after answering , he turned to me and said “is this how it was going to be?” I responded with “I guess it is”. And it was and fun and rewarding.

I know I went on about seeking a distinction between “studies” and “photos” but that was confusing and important. In the last three months I had started understanding and enjoying studies. It was the first time that I felt comfortable with my photography and I was beginning to understand the concept of “seeing.”

When Jay started to be critical of “studies” and push us towards images that expressed emotion and passion I was resistant to the idea and discouraged. It took me a while to understand that he wasn’t saying don’t ever take “study pics” they are fine, but don’t settle for safe easy pics.

I came to New York saying I don’t want to shoot people I leave recognizing that I need to shoot people.

To some degree I don’t think I am ready to take pictures of people (Bullshit say’s Jay) my heart is not in it. But now I recognize this a phase, a stage and that as I come to terms with my issues with my career I will become more inclined to work more closely with people…So the work I need to do is look at my approach and develop a strategy that is respectful and honest. Its a head thing

Nick Ure, Portland, OR  

“When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” My Vedic/East Indian philosophy teacher told me this years ago. I primarily shoot underwater and travel images, and was looking for someone to teach me to shoot on land. Jay was introduced to me by my mentor at ASMP. I cannot begin to describe how fortunate I feel that I took the workshop. Jay’s vision, wisdom, and superlative artistry, aided by Matt and Jamie’s technical support and encouragement, helped me make the leap I had been wanting to achieve. All the technical questions I had for years about my Nikon were addressed. It was challenging and a bit intimidating, but so worthwhile. I would love to return!!!

After a 10 year absence from NYC, it was great to attend an organized workshop, in an area I never really explored before.
The meals were mostly outstanding , the company interesting, the studio space incredible. I really enjoyed all the lectures and critiques, having Jay generously share his pearls of wisdom to open up a new field of vision for me. It was good to be pushed and challenged constructively.
The Maisel’s hospitality was warm and genuine and I cannot say THANK YOU enough!!!

Laura Wais, Sausalito, CA  

With Jay sharing his understanding of light,color and gesture a
new way of seeing has opened up for me. I came into class every day with a big smile on my face and could not wait to see the images i captured that morning and share them with Jay and my classmates. The passion i have for photography has only been made stronger.

Jay Tanen, New York, NY  

The workshop was an intense yet supportive dialogue on all things creative through a camera’s aperture with Jay’s experience and talent as the lens providing the focus for the each participant and the group. He was selfless with his knowledge and emotions about his approach to photographic art. He used a Socratic approach to engage the group with deft skill. It coupled a discipline for the day’s photographic efforts in the streets to illustrate the creative paradox of intuition, imagination and emotion with the motivation and discipline required to create compelling images. The workshop will provide me inspiration and approach to photography each time I lift the camera.

In a word I’m very “thankful” to have experienced a most exciting and wonderful week!

Dayton Misfeldt, Palo Alto, California  

Jay Maisel’s Workshop is legendary. Several individuals cautioned me against going because of Jay’s sometimes blunt, confrontational personality.

My experience:Jay is unvarnished in his comments, but his commentary is geared toward making you think. He encourages vigorous discussion and has the expectation that you will defend what you say and what you shoot. It was a great opportunity to “push the envelope” and try new things.

Everyone at the workshop had significant photography experience (perhaps because of the cost of the workshop). There were no beginners. As a result, I learned a significant amount from my classmates about photography, gear, and life.

New York is an exciting place to do street photography. The workshop venue (an old bank that Jay purchased in the 60’s) is a wonderful place of exploration in itself. The food is varied and of excellent quality.

Jay Maisel is, without a doubt, a “character.” He is a well-respected, world-class photographer who does not hold back – on anything. He challenged, exasperated, and inspired me. The hours were long and the week was action packed. But, I feel like I left the workshop a better photographer with the tools to view the world in a new, different, and more interesting way.

Back to the original comment. Is Jay sometimes blunt and confrontational? YES. Would I recommend the Workshop to others? An unqualified YES if you are flexible, interested in meeting and interacting with others who are passionate about photography, and want to improve your ability to make compelling images. Make time to experience a week with Jay Maisel in New York City while there is still an opportunity!

Bob Newman, Gainesville, FL  

Jay is demanding but incredibly generous. He really wants you to grow and a photographer as it shows in the amount of thought and effort that is put into each and every session.

The amount of information, ideas and visual input can be overwhelming at times. I don’t mean this from a negative standpoint. I found it so stimulating and thought provoking that at times I was just overloaded.

I entered the workshop wishing to become more comfortable and competent with street shooting and to find again the passion for photography that I once enjoyed. I got my wish in spades.

Barry Andrews, Laguna Hills, CA

October 2013


“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Attributed to Einstein, this quote sums up the workshop — from Jay’s photography to the flow of the week’s activities. Just as Einstein looked at a complex world and found elegant and simple explanations, Jay can look at the chaos of his surroundings and “see” the light, gesture, and color of elegantly simple yet powerful images. Through Jay’s discussions about his approach, illustrated with many of his photographs, we began to truly understand what it means to not include imagery that does not directly relate to what the photographer wants to say. Key in this discovery was our daily shooting as we individually walked the streets trying to “see” the simple in the visual commotion of New York City. Through Jay’s and our group’s discussions of each other’s photos, every day we learned to “see” in ways we had not seen the day before. By the end of the week, we all had found ways to “say” far more in our photographs.
Equally rewarding was the total immersion into Jay’s life in the building that for over forty years has been his studio, gallery, archive, workshop, and home. He made us all feel part of his world rather than attendees of a workshop. Sharing all our meals throughout the week with Jay, workshop producer Jaime Smith, and the other workshop photographers, helped create relationships that grew much closer than five days should normally allow. I cannot thank Jay, Jaime, and my new friends from the workshop enough. I will attend again!

John Nelson, Centreville, VA  

Jay Maisel is a living legend. It is a real honor to spend 5 days with him. You really get an inside look at the man behind the lens. You will grow from this workshop at any experience level. People always get caught up in the technicalities of the camera they use. There is an art to photography that is more important. Gesture, Color and Light all contribute to this. The technical stuff comes with time and experience. The art is really worth studying. This is truly an invaluable experience. I would not hesitate to do it all over again.

Jeff Yates, Omaha,NE  

One of the reasons I took Jay’s workshop was that I hoped to find ways to break free from the mental blocks that prevented me from being inspired to take photographs. Initially, I was looking outwardly to him for suggestions, wisdom and the tools he used to break through his own walls so I could see if any of them would help me.

Instead, Jay masterfully and with great care turned the question around so that I looked inward and worked on the things that blocked me from within. Jay’s only actual rule that I will paraphrase as ‘please don’t put your self in harms way to take a picture during the workshop,’ gave us a simple guideline under which there were many opportunities to try new things, fail, learn and try again. There was time and space to explore that which I feared most (taking pictures of strangers on the street) in a city that generally accepts artists and art creation and expression in public places. The other participants offered constructive feedback during our daily critiques. And I found encouragement to push at my own boundaries as I watched others in the workshop move through their fears, take strong pictures and grow every day.

I went to Jay’s workshop to learn something from him, and indeed I learned a lot. More importantly, though, I learned some new things about myself and became better grounded in myself. I have always known that I am different; I know that I see the world differently than others do. I make art, a profession that is not embraced as well as other careers are where I live. In Jay, through the workshop, and in the city I found a general acceptance of me as an artist. It may be more simplistic than profound, but finding acceptance for who you are and what you do is heartwarming.

The workshop was remarkable and life changing. I look forward to returning to New York City soon to make, look at, experience and talk about art. And I look forward to seeing Jay and the others in the workshop in the future, too. Everyone involved made the week special. Thank you: Jamie, Matt, L.A., Jay, Mark, Alejandro, Rick, John, Jan, Jeff Y, Chris, Jeff M and Per for everything.

Theo Streibel, Madison, WI  

Don’t hesitate. Sign up already.

If you are looking at this page you are considering taking Jays’ workshop. Don’t hesitate. Sign up already. What a wonderful week you will have.

Jays’ teaching is eclectic but I feel that it works. His ideas are introduced, examples shown, discussed and slowly one integrates the ideas Jay is trying to get across.

The critique of the photographs one takes and shows each day, by Jay and the rest of the workshop, are supportive, so that one feels one is learning from the experience. One could see the improvement in your own photographs day to day as well as that of the other workshop attendees.

The time spent at lunch and dinner (and what wonderful meals they were) gives one a chance in an even less formal environment to get to know Jay and the other workshop participants and to discuss photography and life will like-minded individuals.

Thanks as well to Jamie and Matt for their organizational expertise and making everything run so smoothly and apparently effortlessly.

Jeff Mendelsohn, Toronto, Ontario, Canada  

Intensive week of photography with Jay Maisel and his amazing house. Eat, shoot, crititicize non stop from 6 am to 10 pm. Jay brings you in and makes you feel like a New Yorker. (When I was walking with my camera downtown in the morning the second day, with people going to work, I thought: “ I’m with Jay now – I own this town!”) A unique experience. Spending a week with a great man and learning from him is always useful. Costs some money, but well worth it.

Per Hortlund, Stockholm, Sweden  

I really love Jay’s photos, then I thought it would be a good idea to assist to the workshop to try to improve my skills. It was a great week, listening Jay’s comments, seeing his images and discussing our own work with him and the other participants. Now I see things differently and know better how an image can be stronger. Thank you Jay!

1. What did you enjoy most about the week/workshop? The chance to talk about photography with Jay.
2. What did you like least? Nothing I can think of.
3. What changes or improvements would you recommend? I liked it the way it was.

Alejandro Cerutti, Rio Tercero, Cordoba, Argentina  

The workshop was even better that I expected. I was mostly impressed with the thought and care that Jay puts in to every element of the week. I felt he connected with each of us, challenged us (oh yes!) and made sure that no time was wasted…The last afternoon/evening was really very special. A nice climax to a wonderful week spent with new friends.

Jan Neil, San Diego, CA  

This is my third workshop with Jay. Why? Because it is just so much fun.
The workshop yes, is about photography and yes, it is about life. It is about seeing your world and the things in it in with a different perspective. His light, color and gesture will guide you through the weeklong odyssey.
Jay will force you to take better images up front-forget post processing. Get the shot you want in the camera. It is a discipline well worth learning. Jay instructs, critiques and makes you appreciate what you can do-more than you think you can. It’s not a technical course on cameras. It is about the world and life around you that most of us simply pass by.
It is also a history lesson of photography. Jay is truly a renaissance man, shooting in New York City and around the world over the last sixty years. He has seen it and done it all. His wit, humor and knowledge never ceases to inspire. The other members of your class will likewise teach you many things during the week. The camaraderie is fantastic. You will be amazed as you see your own and classmate’s photos mature during the 5 days of the course.
Be prepared for long hours of class and out on the streets shooting. I started shooting each day before 7 am and usually returned to my hotel between 10-11 pm.
The really true bonus is hanging out with Jay all week. He wines and dines you each day for lunch and dinner, and the food is always great. By the end of the week you will be wondering where the time went as Jay finishes up giving you a tour of the Bank building, shooting upper and lower Manhattan from his rooftop and sharing wine and cheese on the 6th floor with he and his lovely and gracious wife.
In short, it’s a game changer. If you are serious about your photography, pros and amateurs alike- you will learn more than you can imagine.

Rick Yates, Papillion, NE  

Taking Jay’s workshop was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’m so happy that I took this class. It was a rich, immersive, and inspirational experience every step of the way. Jay has a wonderful way of bringing the best out of you and teaching you to see things that you’ve never imagined – you couldn’t ask for a more caring and insightful teacher. Working in Jay’s studio was amazing, especially with the help of Jamie and Matt. It wouldn’t have been the same without their guidance and hospitality.
Jay, thank you for a fantastic week – I owe you good pictures.

Everything about the week was great. When I returned to work on Monday, people asked me how things went and all I could do was smile and shake my head. It didn’t really know how to explain the breakthroughs and insights that I gained throughout the week. I’ve been a Designer for 20 years now (and a good one), but after this class, I see things in a completely different way. I feel as though I received a wonderful gift that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.
I feel fortunate to have had such a good class to work and learn with. I think that makes a world of difference – we were very diverse, engaged, and all trying to absorb things along the way.
I was exhausted and I loved every single minute of it.

Mark Sherrill, New York, NY  

Jay has influenced many lives through his art and his workshops. He changed mine. Is his workshop expensive? It’s priceless…Getting to know Jay and having him kick my ass (lovingly). He helped bring my “vision and voice” to a much higher level. The other thing I enjoyed was the “workshop within the workshop”. Receiving input from several photographers from around the world has a value all its own.

Christopher Briscoe, La Jolla, CA

September 2013


Jay’s love of life and photography are inspirational. I enjoyed the critique sessions learning from everyone’s accomplishments as well as mistakes. I had the pleasure of working with an amazing group of photographers this week. I learned from all of you Thank You.
Jay’s openness and candor are refreshing. One of the many things I will take away from this class is to ‘respect the people you are shooting, you have the responsibility as a photographer to take the best photograph you are capable of. . . Slow down and just do it.’
It was an incredible and exhausting week.
Thank you Jamie for all your help.
Linda thank you for opening your home to us. You are a generous and caring host.

Cindy Rusu, Naperville, IL  

I greatly enjoyed the workshop experience. It was great to take one week off and do a deep dive in own creativity, learn from the professional and grow together with others as the group.
What was really helpful is that we had a small group and therefore we had a time to really bond and learn from each other as well as get equal attention from Jay.
I have grown in confidence and creativity and will apply the insights and techniques in my photography after the class.

Anna Plitchenko,  

I was very pleased with the workshop and found it to be more than I
had hoped for. The atmosphere was warm, fun and extremely contagious. I pushed myself not only in the sense of getting out there and
shooting, but as in creating photographs I didn’t know I had in me.
The workshop really taught me about breaking away from poses and capturing life… often times without having to ask.
As for Jay, Jamie, Matt and LA… they are all are top notch. The planning, execution and and details were all well thought out and well timed. Each of them worked so well together and kept the workshop moving smoothly. LA was a pure breath of fresh air…
I would highly recommend this workshop for anyone who wants to go deeper into their photography. You learn about images, people and without even knowing it, life. I thank you all for such a great week and showing me a bigger world.

Katie Settel, Fairfield, Connecticut  

This workshop was an opportunity for insight into Jay’s artistic process – his inspirations, his methods, and his advice for other photographers. It was a perfect venue to get out of my comfort zone, shooting on the streets of New York, striving to get it right in camera. It’s demanding to shoot every day, especially if you’re a bit tired, but these “visual pushups” were essential in my development as a photographer.
The emphasis on shooting rather than post-production helps instill a disciplined way of seeing everything in your frame, and take responsibility for the results. The image reviews and critiques were exceptionally helpful in helping me see what works and what doesn’t in powerful images, and understand why.
Jay’s studio is a beautiful backdrop for the classroom time, filled with a rich variety of his work, as well as a myriad of books from other artists on rotating display. New York City is a perfect environment for photography, with a unique energy, and possibilities in every direction.
It was an honor to share this time with Jay and my fellow classmates, each of them excellent photographers in their own right. I enjoyed seeing their work, and how differently each of us experienced and photographed events and subjects.
I will cherish this experience, and sincerely hope to produce better work as a result.

Tricia Lombardi, Sierra Vista, AZ  

I loved the workshop so much the first time that I returned. Do not think of thus week as a workshop but something much more, an exploration into the essence of photography and how to better connect personally with my images. Jay and his team provide an experience beyond the physical camera through experience, critique and insight. If you are looking to take your images to a more artistic level the Jay Maisel Workshop Experience is for you. Warning, come prepared to laugh, cry and care more deeply about your work as art.

Bryan Vincent, Phoenix, AZ  

I came into the workshop with a totally open mind… and with one objective and that was to be able to see what Jay sees… what he’s been seeing for the past 60 odd years that he’s been shooting… what does it take to take a good photograph? What makes a photograph an excellent one as against a mediocre one…?
I was looking for Jay to help open my eyes and see a different world… a world that we sometimes forget to see!
In the 5 days of spending time with him (and getting fancy my new Leica camera totally trashed by him!J), I think I am looking at the world in a different perspective… looking for that ‘story’ that each image around me reveals… looking at things around me and wondering what kind of a story that particular moment would reveal if I were to shoot it…
Thank you Jay for allowing us inside your fascinating world and making everything around so much more beautiful.
I look forward to be back again someday very soon…

Naveen Munjal, New Delhi, India  

The best way to summarise this workshop is “inspirational” – it is not a technical course (make sure you are technically competent with your camera before you come) and it is absolutely not about Photoshop (you don’t use it once all week). Rather, through his love and appreciation of light, colour and humanity, Jay inspires you to really look about you and to see, observe and capture the photographic possibilities that others would miss. This is about photography as an expressive art form, not about the technical pushing of buttons. If you’ve been taking competent but mundane photos and want to find the guidance and inspiration to break through and release your creative potential to capture extraordinary images which will change your approach to photography for life, then this is the course for you.

Overall, the totally immersive nature of the week was something I have never experienced before. I did virtually no work emails all week and took no work calls at all, and consequently was able to enter into and catch a glimpse of Jay’s world – it was this that was truly inspiring. More specifically, the group reviews of our images and listening to Jay’s analysis of them in the context of his philosophy was the most useful, together with his anecdotes and his debunking of some of the accepted “rules” of photography (e.g. the rule of thirds vs “it’s your photo; do what you want!”).

Ian Jones, W.Yorkshire, UK  

Learned a good technique to make solid shots with the camera plus insights what makes pictures unique. Learned to make better shots of people. Tried it on my son on my return, the results are stunning!

Philip Hager, Rougemont, VD, Switzerland  

First, a fabulous learning experience in the shooting of people with and without permission. Second, a wonderful group of people in the workshop. Third, studying with the incomparable Jay Maisel and learning from his experience and wisdom. Third, assistance from Jamie throughout the week. Fourth, memorable meals in wonderful places in the Bowery area. Fifth, exploration and shooting in this wonderfully interesting area. Sixth, shooting the fabulous views from the roof.

Jerry Katell, Santa Monica, CA  

I have to admit that my decision to attend Jay’s workshop involved a leap of faith. Although I had been an admirer of Jay’s work for a couple of years. I didn’t really know what to expect from the brief description and reviews of the workshop. Monday, I almost panicked, when I saw the more accomplished portfolios of some of my fellow attendees. What I discovered after a day on two out on the streets of Manhattan, is that I could hold my own against just about anyone. By Friday, I became a much more confident, photographer. I am now better able to critique my own and other photographer’s work. Although the workshop isn’t technical in nature, I also learned a great deal about internals of my equipment during a week of intensive use and self-experimentation. Finally, I became a very well fed, if exhausted and more passionate photographer, who had the privilege of meeting and viewing the superb images of one of the worlds most accomplished photographers, and his lovely wife.

Bill Synwoldt, Narragansett, RI

June 2013


My hope was to walk away from jay’s workshop being inspired and motivated to start shooting again more regularly and with a regained passion and desire to do so…my hopes were beyond fulfilled!! How do I begin to explain this week’s experience? simply said, it was indescribable and I was sincerely sad the week so quickly passed by!
Jay’s teaching style is a unique and wonderful combination of his personal thoughts, insights, opinions, lifelong experience and thought provoking quotes all presented with the perfect blending of his compassion, wit and wisdom. As he shared his images with us, I found it meaningful and valuable to hear his stories and explanations behind them. Jay’s honest and raw critique of my work was much appreciated and extremely invaluable. Each subsequent time I went out to shoot, his voice and words were in my head, opening my mind and my eyes and leading me to untapped creativity. It was really so enjoyable and encouraging to see the daily progression and improvement in everybody’s work throughout the week.
While the photography aspect of the workshop was beyond my expectations, being in the studio itself and its surroundings transformed and enriched my overall experience. How generous of Jay to open up his studio to us. The week culminated with the grand tour of the bank including Jay’s home where he so warmly and openly shared his life’s collections and more captivating stories. We were joined by his lovely wife who so graciously prepared us a delicious meal followed by the best cheesecake i’ve ever had…thank you, Linda! It was the last of many great meals which Jay lead us to all week where we could relax and enjoy each others’ company and share the day’s adventures. The week was a special opportunity to get to know a handful of people who were once strangers but through the bonding of jay’s workshop and a mutual interest and passion for photography quickly became new friends. and how fortunate am I to have experienced all this in my home town of new york city. I now see the city in a new light…that is priceless!
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Jamie and Matt who were most welcoming, patient and helpful throughout the workshop…an added plus for us all…thank you both!
The week with Jay Maisel was not just a photography workshop. Admittedly, my expectations coming into the week were high, but the experience delivered far beyond those expectations. It was absolutely a most memorable and exceptionally enriching life experience…thank you, Jay!!

Elyse Weadock, New York, NY  

It’s hard to know where to start describing my experience at Jay Maisel’s workshop. Jay is incredibly inspiring — his wonderful photographs, of course — but also his obvious love of life and intense curiosity about everything! He so obviously loves teaching and is extremely generous with his knowledge and advice.
For me the highlights of the week were Jay’s critiques — of my work and that of my fellow students. Seeing the work of the group progress over the week was inspiring and I learned so much from Jay’s critiques. I had of course heard that Jay was a tough critic. He is — but it is done with a generosity of spirit and an obvious wish to see each of us do our best work. It was truly invaluable.
I was impressed with the simplicity of Jay’s approach to photography — one lens – one camera — combined with the focus/discipline of making photographs that show the world something it hasn’t seen before. Capture the gesture, be specific. To try and show everything is to show nothing—you have to choose. Be patient. Let the photograph come to you. Take photographs that excite you. And for me particularly important is not to confuse intent with execution. Be my own severest critic.
I’ll be absorbing all of this for awhile — trying to keep pushing my photography forward. I am truly grateful to Jay for the generosity of his knowledge and insights — and to Jamie and Matt for all of the work they did to make the workshop such a success. I hope to be back!

Linda Hacker, Brooklyn, NY  

Super workshop! Jay is a wonderful teacher who is very forthcomming with constructive critique…and praise, when warranted, hah! Please come in with an open mind and allow an unconscious flow of energy create new frameworks that bring to you new perspectives and vision.

Sharing and learning from a great group of photographers. The group dynamics, with the subtle, sometimes a little more, encouragement from Jay, allowed for a genesis of an internal flow of collective grow that was more substantial than the constitute parts.

Jamie and Matt were super!

Alan Farris, San Antonio, Texas  

Jay Maisel helps you to see the world differently and for a photographer, amateur or pro, that’s everything. Jays enjoys the process of looking for the photograph as much as capturing them. Even if you don’t capture all of the photographs you see, remember, you saw it. This class is not about technique it’s about developing how you see things as opposed to how everyone else in the world sees them.

I found the critique sessions to be enjoyable. It was nice to see the work of others and see that at times they struggled to get 5 good shots also. By hearing the critiques of other peoples work it helped me to learn quicker because I didn’t have to make every mistake myself.

Mike Marco, Nashville, TN  

Great experience. Both the instructor and classroom are larger than life. The experience of learning from a world class photographer who is both highly intelligent and totally caring cannot be duplicated in any other workshop. Top it off with a constant visual display of slides and prints and get ready for a thorough introduction to light, color and gesture.
As to the class, Jay does a great job of guiding you in how to succeed, kicking you out the door to practice and then instructing you on how to improve and become a better photographer. By week’s end, everyone in my class improved, even me. I just reviewed my daily submissions from the beginning to the end of the week and can see my cumulative progress. Better yet, none of my improvement was due to software magic. Oh yes, no fair cropping, no Lightroom edits, no Photoshop and no plug ins. Just you, your camera and the subject. Sounds hard but it wasn’t.
As to the classroom, it is about the size of your high school gym. Be prepared to look at dozens of prints that are displayed on counters along the side of the classroom and changed every day. Take time to view the piles of books from some of the world’s best photographers. In combination, all of it creates a magical moment. Add to the instruction and classroom a cultural experience that was just terrific. Each day we ate at a different classic New York City restaurant for lunch and dinner. We walked and took photos in multiple neighborhoods that even those of us from NYC had not spent much time in. Was it great? Sign me up for the next one right now.

Tom Barry, Pelham, NY  

If you and your photography need a ‘life change,’ 190 Bowery is the place. It will only take a few minutes during introductions to realize ‘I’m about to have the time of my life!’ This workshop is everything to do with photography and nothing to do with photography. It’s an awakening of the soul. At the end of the five days you’ll be craving more. More from your creative self and from life. Jay has a unique gift of not ‘teaching’ you anything. The transformation comes if you allow it and are open. You will constantly be filled up with Jay’s essence, spirit and passion. The connections are real. You’ll listen, understand, question, succeed and fail. You’ll welcome the confusion and resistance as you are gently brought back to the simplicity of seeing. You’ll be grateful for a new and honest understanding of yourself, your work and the world. It’s a journey worth taking.
Jay says that life is preparation. Your whole life will lead you to the moment before you take your next shot. I am grateful that ‘my whole life’ includes the life-changing week I spent at 190 Bowery. Thank you Jamie, Matt, Linda, Jay and fellow photographers.
Lastly, you’ll laugh and have more fun than you ever thought possible during the week….and you’ll be treated like royalty around the ‘dinner’ table.

Christy Brothers, Columbus, Ohio  

Great workshop and Jay is a very good instructor. I also love the time I spend with the fellow students. Thanks to Jay, he makes me see things differently and I am glad I had this workshop experience. Hopefully, next time I am in NYC; I will be able to capture more of this city.
Oh, I also being serious about a second continue class in the future. I think I can use a class where I can be push harder and try harder in terms of seeing things differently.

I enjoy the most is the group review as well as geeting feed back from Jay on my photo. As well as the time Jay explain about his past photography experience. As well as how he approach a subject.

And I have to thank Jamie and Matt as well, they make the workshop better and more fun!

David Young, Aberdeen, HK  

-The challenge of street photography
-Being given assignments
-The critique sessions

What a great week – immersed in all things photography from morning till night. Jay’s class is a real challenge – only for those really serious on improving their photography. Well worth it

Tricia Kennedy, St. Lawrence, Jersey  

Jay has big heart that you can’t help but see in his smiling response to the people around him. He also has a focused rigor to his way of viewing and critiquing a photograph (complete with colorful language). These attributes combine to make Jay’s workshop “work”. We spent very little time discussing methods or techniques, but rather we discussed what worked in an image and what did not in a very no-frills way. Jay really didn’t connect the dots for us. He wanted us to make the connections for ourselves. The core of the week for me was developing a more critical eye and posture towards my images and holding my work to a higher standard.

Michael Korsholm, Airdrie, Alberta, Canada  

Jay really opened my eyes to what is around me and to see what other people miss in their surroundings, that there is beauty and even art in the everyday. It wasn’t just about “street photography” it was the heart of what creating a great image really is. He is a great teacher who showed me a path to learn how to capture that beauty and will tell you honestly (and with great humour much of the time) if you’re going “off-point” (in more colorful terms). That was invaluable.
Since I was coming from a background of literally creating virtual realities in video games/FX: fantastical environments that needs to dazzle a jaded audience with reliance on techniques such as toning (instagram-like filters), HDR, etc, learning how to really see and capture great imagery that touches people with no pretense “in camera” changed the way I shoot and create any images from now on.
On top of all this one gets to experience New York with amazing eateries, great camaraderie with fellow students, watching accomplished speakers in the medium, and seeing day-to-day Jay’s humour/warmth, passion for the craft, and why he is one of the best photographers out there and also a great person to boot.
I would recommend the workshop to everyone and anyone if they have a chance.

John Enricco, Tustin, CA

April 2013


Jay is genuine and welcoming. His joy in what he does is apparent and I am thrilled that I was a recipient of his generous teaching. I was nervous about taking this class. Jay is a tough critic. But somehow he managed to be sharply honest without ever being offensive. I never felt inferior or demeaned. Mostly I learned more than my brain could absorb in a week. His messages were clear and consistent. For me the most striking thing I embraced is that I am not looking at the world around me if I am just looking for a picture to take. Do not add to what you see. Be patient and see what you did not see before. This is extraordinary and worth documenting. I hope, rather than to say I am grateful, to show my gratitude by taking more thought filled pictures.

Jeannine Mullan, Longboat Key, FL  

One sees all of the equipment available on the market to “help” improve your photography. You can be brainwashed into thinking more is better. Jay showed me what true photography is all about. One camera body and one lens and what you see in the viewfinder. That was it. Sounds simple enough. Now go out and shoot. Again, sounds simple enough. Try it sometime. I think you will find that this can be one of the most challenging experiences of your life. What I learned from Jay was to take responsibility for everything within the frame. What you shoot is what you show. Nothing else. This class took me to new places I hadn’t been before and made me look at how I was shooting and why. My comfort zone was tested time and time again. I was given the opportunity to learn from Jay’s vast background as a photographer and apply those techniques to my shooting.

My new philosophy: Think outside the box, shoot what others are not and keep an open mind.

And remember, always carry a camera, look at things differently and most of all have FUN. I will and I did.

Marc Willis, Grederick, MD  

Five days of photography heaven! And then some. Jay’s approach is less about instruction and more about inspiration, and the results were on clear display as each class member’s photos improved every day. Jay’s insight on gesture, light, and color has transformed my approach to photography. I hear his voice in my head when I’m out shooting, and I couldn’t be happier with my progress in such a short period of time. I now find photos all around me. It’s like he simply switched on the lights and now I can see. Furthermore, I will forever treasure the experience of spending time in his beautiful studio, exploring the other floors of his enchanted building, and dining in his home with his gracious wife Linda. Additional thanks to Jamie and Matt, who not only made sure the week flowed smoothly, but also shared their own considerable knowledge and talent with everyone. A week I will never forget.

The daily critiques. Examining our actual photos is far more powerful than discussing theory. And Jay’s feedback was honest and clear. I was also inspired by the other classmates, and appreciated their opinions as well. I also enjoyed very much Jay’s ‘journal’ slideshow from his trip to Vegas. It’s inspiring to study not just his masterpieces, but his ‘regular’ photos, and to see how his techniques really do transform snapshot moments into wonderful photographs.

Eric Coleman, Studio City, CA  

Without doubt, this course is worth every penny. In fact, the instruction, feedback, and photo opportunities are worth the cost of admission. Spending time with Jay, listening to all of his stories and experiences is the added bonus. I know I became a much better photographer after spending five days with Jay and his team. I now hear Jay’s voice in my brain every time I bring the camera up to my eye. This was a week I will not forget. I thought the feedback was excellent. Although the discussions were tough, they were extremely fair. I know I will be my toughest critic now.

Peter Anderson, Unionville, Ontario, Canada  

Jay is a great human being that happens to love photography and he can teach what he loves. He is generous with his time and talent. Don’t expect empty validations, or mean spirited trashing of your work, just “Very Honest” constructive feed back. You will learned how to see and more importantly learn how to teach yourself.

My advice to those who are considering to take the workshop – With an open mind you will get 10X more than you put in. Show up with at least the table stakes, and you will go home loaded.

Thanks Jay, Jaimie and Mat for your warm hospitality.

Masood Garahi, Loveland, CO  

A true gift to spend five days in the company of a man, who shared so much: his photography, his insights, all the teeming corners and byways of his home, and the people, prints, books, and doodads precious to him. I don’t think you need to spend five days with a group of nine strangers, but you choose to do so. In a way, you seem to be imparting the message: this is what a life can be and this is one example of what photography can be and do.

I liked the immersion aspect, the luxury of being able to focus on photography for five days (unfortunately rare for me) and that the Workshop approached it from several angles: your work, other people’s work, lectures, guest speakers, quotes, going out and shooting, coming back for critiques, etc. I also liked that sharing bread and eating together were a daily part of the Workshop as well.

Ross Corsair,  

There is something extraordinary about being taught by someone who has really earned the right to teach. There is something remarkable about ending a week of learning new skills and insights on the streets of NYC on a sixth floor rooftop, overlooking that stage, sipping champagne!

The final day treat is a trip through the bank. As your eye feasts on the variety
and intricacy of Jay’s collections you wonder how dull you are, how much you must have missed on your own journey through life? As you exit to the roof through the amazing metal door with its rich texture of age and weathering you are greeted by the city. A tough city, alive with its own noise and color – forever changing. A place more familiar after a week of wanderings and focusing on the changes in oneself. On the roof with you are the now familiar faces of the group you have spent the week with, wonderfully supportive Jamie and Matt, a generous warm welcome from Linda, dinner in their home and their two inquisitive little hounds. It is a moment that I will savor for a long long time. I learnt so much it just needs to soak in.

Jay, you taught me to listen. To listen to myself. To listen with my eyes and hear with my heart – to photograph what touches me. I think you have a rare ability to awaken something in our subconscious that we might already know but won’t look at. I will search for the triggers and the gestures and keep pushing myself to improve. I will get involved and have fun and I hope to return. Thank you all so much.

Calla Fleischer, San Francisco, California

December 2012


Attending this course for the third time, I got additional advice and inspiration for my future photography. I think I understand Jay’s concepts a lot better now and actually am able to control my photography to a good degree, fine tuning things learnt in earlier courses. We were a class shooting on a good level, so I learned from my colleagues a great deal, another important part of the whole workshop. Jay is an excellent teacher that helps you to bring out the best in you. NYC is the perfect place for street photography and the facilities at the bank – with the support of assistants Jamie, John and Matt – made this course a breeze. The handpicked and tested selection of restaurants we visited is an additional bonus. I will come back as long as Jay continues to do these workshops (fingers crossed).

Peter Boehi, Altstaetten, SG, Switzerland  

Hard to criticize such a fabulous week! Just right for my stage of learning photography. Well balanced stream of relevant activities that were all very educational and entertaining at the same time. Unique experience to be shown Jay’s private collections that I feel honored to have them shared with us.

Philip Moorby, South Hampton, NH  

Jay, thank you for letting a group of strangers into your home and studio. I came to learn from the master of light and colour and learnt so much more than I anticipated. I now shoot with a purpose, check my backgrounds and wait for the photo to come to me. My brain is full of your quotes and funny sayings, and I am so glad I came! It was a once in a lifetime for me and if I never get back to New York at least I can say I met the most inspiring living street photographer there is!

Sandra Guzzi, Perth, WA, Australia  

Jay Maisel’s workshop reminded me why I love taking photographs. He taught me to go back to basics and look for the small things that make pictures fun to take. His philosophy and his stories add a personal touch that I will remember for years. Eating with him and the other photographers in the local restaurants was the highpoint of the week. When you take this course it is like you are being accepted into his family.

Alex Grissom, Fredericksburg, Va  

Jay is an amazing artist and a great teacher! Jay expanded my views on color, light, and gesture. He also helped me fall back in love with shooting for myself, not just for work. I see color in a whole new light now, it is everywhere! Jay gave me a deeper appreciation for art and passion for art. I can’t thank Jay enough for sharing his knowledge and love for the art of photography and the city of New York!

Tracey Buyce, Saratoga Springs, NY  

Beneficent and generous genius Jay Maisel gives great incomparable photographic tutoring based on his sixty years of phenomenal picture-taking experience along with philosophical insights on art and life.

Bud Cooper, Atlantic Beach, NC  

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience many great things in my life and I believe that this week is probably the highlight! A combination of Life, Culture, Experience, Mastery and Wit have made this a lifetime experience that I will not only remember but grow from not just as a Photographer but as a human being – thank you! The combination of lessons, sharing, critiques, lonely photo shoots are excellent.

David Dewar, Paradise valley, AZ  

The way Jay sees the world appealed to me before taking the class, as I was amazed by the simplicity and breathtaking feeling when looking at his images. At the same time I wanted to share my own work and get critique from a person with deep taste for what good looks like.
The week has passed like one day filled with shooting out in NY streets, discussions, eating, critique, humor and – above all – joy! Jay has mastered giving critique in his manner, which is a combination of telling the truth and caring…
Visiting Jay’s historical building (from huge vault in the basement to the spectacular view from the roof) is a cultural event in itself – full of images taken over the last 50 years and carefully collected wonderful items from all around the world.
‘Wisdom is knowing what to leave out’ is the main concept I have taken from the class. ‘There is gesture in everything’ is the main creative idea. So lots to think about, to continue learning, and after some time I would definitely like to have opportunity to come back and participate in alumni course. And to see Jay and all the beautiful people around.

Sergey Kolesnikov, Kaluga, Russia  

This was not a workshop but something much more, an exploration into the essence of photography and how to better connect personally with my images. Jay and his team provide an experience beyond the physical camera through experience, critique and insight. If you are looking to take your images to a more artistic level the Jay Maisel Workshop Experience is for you. Warning, come prepared to laugh, cry and care more deeply about your work as art.

Bryan Vincent, Phoenix, AZ

November 2012


Intentional or not on Jay’s part, a certain mystique has grown around his workshops, and the “different experience” they promise to those who are open to learning from them. I have had a Jay Maisel Workshop on my bucket list for a few years, and was finally able to take part in one in November 2012. I arrived with a high degree of anticipation, mixed with a fair amount of intimidation. But I also began the week with the notion I was going to be like a dry sponge – ready to absorb as much as possible in the time available. Not only did the experience not disappoint, it in fact met or exceeded every expectation and hope I brought to it.

Jay is obviously an incredible photographer with a lifetime’s achievement that is deserving of its renown. Perhaps even more remarkable is Jay’s ability to teach, to impart wisdom and to cause his students, if they are ready and willing, to fundamentally transform they way they see, think, act and respond as photographers. I certainly saw that progression in my own work over the week, and I observed it in several of my fellow workshop participants. Jay creates opportunities (to put it in his words “I can open doors for you”), and he effortlessly shares his thoughts, philosophies and insights that enrich one both as a photographer and as a citizen of this world we inhabit.

The workshop is intense, it is not for those who are too thin skinned, and the critiques and feedback are deeply meaningful, richly rewarding and absolutely intended as learning opportunities. Of course one would like more time to shoot, more time to have critiques, more time to see Jay’s images, more time to explore his amazing studio and home, and more time to “take it all in”. Time is always the enemy of such experiences. Even with this limitation, the workshop is an opportunity not to be missed, and a “must do” for those seeking to become better photographers. And to top it all, the meals we shared with Jay in some amazing eateries are just as important a part of the overall experience as the photography.

Thank you Jay. Gesture is the word that continues to fill my head!

Graham Sher, Ottawa, ON, Canada  

This was a milestone week for me. I was stuck and my photography was flat to me and I did not know why. This week answered some of those questions and was liberating . I was bound by technic and that was the weakness in my images.

Arto Djerdjerian, Lacombe, AB, Canada  

I had heard that Jay’s style was to rip people to shreds. He turned out to be a thoughtful, provocative person who uses a crude sense of humor and wit to give me in one week what others have been unable to convey. I came away from this workshop with a sense of empowerment and ownership of my images.

Andrew Hollander, Port Washington, NY  

It was a life changing experience, getting to know Jay and let him appreciate what we do. Only having him give his opinion of our work was worth it. I enjoyed most Jay´s input and his ability to push us do more, want more and be more.

Celine Eskenazi, Calle Winston Churchill, Panama  

A fantastic experience. I am a landscape photographer and this definitely pushed me out of my element. I know I am now a much better photographer. I got amazing insight from Jay’s honest critiques, his philosophy, and his enthusiasm. Very constructive. Brutally honest. Jay has the gift of being able to tell you that you’re crap, and then you feel so good about it and love him for it.

Alex Morley, Creswell, Oregon  

I have been fortunate to have a few great mentors over the course of my education in literature, philosophy, history and law: teachers who have given me new ways of thinking about problems and then left me free to do the heavy lifting afterward to incorporate their insights into my own approach. Jay is my latest great good fortune. This is the second time I have taken the workshop and both times I learned much that was new to me. However, the important lessons I took away each time had to do with gaining an openness to what I saw in the world and how I could best work toward capturing a moment or gesture. The first time I took the workshop I was embarking on a new direction in my photography and was scared out of my wits that I had jumped in over my head. That workshop with Jay opened my eyes to taking an approach to my shooting that turned what could have been a frustrating disaster into a very pleasant experience that largely changed my career. This second time has helped me to refine my thinking a great deal and has left me juiced to get back to work. Each workshop was different and, even where there was some overlap of discussion, Jay’s approach meant something different to me as I had become a different person and a different photographer. Also, Jay clearly remains attuned to the needs of the photographers in his workshop and the discussions headed in different directions each time as Jay responded to and opened new doors for his students. Regardless of the direction any workshop takes, if you come to it open to listen to Jay and give yourself over to his thinking for five days, you can leave with a strong base from which to incorporate a new way of seeing into your own vision. Jay does not teach you how to take a “Jay Maisel picture,” he teaches you to appreciate the world around you so that you can take your own pictures. In sum, Jay’s workshop is the best bargain I have found in photography. I could have spent just as much on a new camera body or a really nice lens, but I would have only ended up seeing my current frustrations and disappointments rendered at a higher resolution. After this workshop, I walk the street differently.

Patrick West, Fredericksburg, Virginia  

Jay is an absolute inspiration. He is extremely generous with his insight, knowledge and experience. He holds nothing back. His feedback on my images were direct, honest and insightful. Very refreshing!! The class sessions are fun, challenging and extraordinarily interesting. But most impressive and inspiring is Jay’s enthusiasm. It is extraordinarily rare to meet someone who embodies such extreme passion to continue to create after so many years of such a successful career. It would be easy and forgivable for Jay to kick back and rest on his laurels. But that is not Jay. I suspect he holds more passion and enthusiasm than a dozen typical 22 years old just starting out on their career.

The other students in the class were great. The class size is kept small and is filled with wonderful and wonderfully talented people.

Jay’s staff is also great. Very helpful, talented and dedicated.

And his wife Linda is just lovely. She provided breakfast throughout the week prepared a very tasty home cooked meal while sharing the family’s personal living space with the entire group for the final evening.

Al DaValle, St Charles, IL  

My first reaction is wow….it’s over….and then, damn, it’s over. I will NEVER look through the viewfinder the same way again. Ever.
I was anxious about coming (am I good enough, will I do ok, are the other participants all pros, etc) but I was immediately at ease. Jay’s staff is great and made all of us feel welcome and at home. The studio was ours for the week.

I think it will take some time for all of this to sink in. I have homework. It’s all on me now. And I have learned amazing lessons about image quality, about framing, about the ‘stage’ and have broken through some of my own inhibitions in photography. I made a lot of mistakes this week but who cares? We all did and we all learned from them. Sometimes the lessons were a bit noisy and obnoxious but hey, this was NEW YORK! And Jay is a New Yorker through and through.

Jay is funny, acidic, smart, talented and passionate. And man, does that guy know photography. His stories are wonderful and illustrative of how photography has shaped his life and worldview. And they helped me think more about imagery, my view of imagery and how I want to represent what I see. And underneath that relatively gruff exterior is a fine man, as well as an artist. And I believe one of his goals is to draw the artist out of those who don’t know they have it. Now I need to explore this, and as I said, it’s on me. Jay talked about drawing inspiration from other artistic fields and now I get that.

And the building is nothing short of magnificent. Graffiti and all.

This was probably the best 5 days I have spent with a camera. It was tremendous. And dessert on Friday-rooftop photos on a spectacular fall evening in NYC. Wow….

Robert Wright, Oakland, CA

October 2012


For me it was physically exhausting. Everywhere I went required at least a mile walk and 2 flights of steps. That said, Jay’s photos are amazing and to see his prints and him “live” was incredible. I am still digesting what happened…I enjoyed shooting in New York. I enjoyed listening to Jay’s critiques of our work and especially seeing his images and hearing the stories behind them.

Sharon Harris, Fairfield, IA  

I found the course challenging but fruitful and it has left me with an overriding compulsion to photograph. Jay’s teaching is simple, honest and effective. Prior to the class taking my camera out would be a ‘special occasion’, now it doesn’t leave my side. Apart from dramatically increasing the window of opportunity for shooting, it has shown me that if you’re willing to commit and meet life halfway, it will come and join you and that’s when the magic really begins.

Clare West, Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom  

Thoughts: Before I attendend the class I thought I knew most of what it meant to be a photographer since I have been a professional advertising photographer for the last three decades. Soon after the workshop started I realized how little I actually know.Im already a better photographer and a better human being. Its been a game changer about the way I see things and see life. I dont think I will ever look back. Thanks Jay.

Rahul Patel, Mumbai, India  

Having the opportunity to spend an entire week in New York City with Jay Maisel, in his personal and intimate environment, was a unique and meaningful experience, that had to do with photography obviously, but that went really way beyond. I learned so much over the week. For sure, I learned how to shoot better (Jay gave us very few technical advices, but so important that they already changed and improved my ability to take pictures). But I also learned how to look better. This week was all about photography, art, beauty, creation, awareness, perception, joy, vision, and inspiration.
I learned so much from Jay of course, but also from his nice workshop and studio team, and from all other photographers attending the workshop. Because this workshop was also a great opportunity to meet nice fellow photographers, coming from different countries, with different backgrounds and interests in photography, and to learn and improve from each of them. Over the days, Jay really managed to build a group, and I hope I’ll stay in touch with them.
I really loved that it was such an intense week, entirely dedicated to photography, something really like a “retreat within the city”, a total immersion into art and creation.
This was a very inspirational and so motivating experience. I already know that my photography and my art are not the same as of today. Thank you, Jay!

Dominique Vinciguerra, New York, NY  

I came into the workshop awash in crosscurrents of feelings about photography and the compromises I would have to make in order to be able to do quality work. Many of the recommendations I culled in my readings seemed to go against the grain and actually get in my way. Jay, through his example, gave me “permission” to: shoot without a tripod, shoot without a flash, just carry the camera around as opposed to going out on “formal” shoots, and shoot in my own neighborhood, with the reassurance that quality results are attainable. I am unburdened.

Tom Dackow, Summit, NJ  

Simply stated: I developed my skills to actually see the shot…and then capture the moment in time with a new awareness of light, gesture and color…Jay’s instruction is “user-friendly” and his wisdom is applicable to all attendees, regardless of technical skill level and experience.

Gretchen Taylor, Seattle, WA  

I can’t imagine how there could be a more value and information packed five day photographic experience. Talk about total immersion! Jay came charging out of the gate with a flood of insights, quotes and illustrations gathered from a life time of operating at the highest levels of the artistic world. What a treat! The demanding pace never slowed down and the ideas and critiques all combined to create an environment for maximum growth of photographic skill in the shortest time possible. In spite of all this there were hours and hours of relaxed conversation over meals and time to digest and absorb the information as we went. Any photographer who gets a chance to go and doesn’t is crazy.

Larry Weidel, Monroe, GA  

Jay Maisel´s workshop is a life experience, to say the least. All the hours spent learning, clicking, are NOT enough. Time flies, and you get much more than a better eye as a photographer. What Jay has to teach is so broad and interesting that it´s one of those experiences you have do before you die! Jay is one of a kind, the atmosphere, place, assistants, speakers, critiques, the clicking, the restaurants…unique, extraordinary. Great laughs, awesome quotes and examples. Beautiful work. A priviledge to spend a week with Jay in his own enviroment. Miss it all already!Photography taken in a profound, artistic, passionate way!

Marta Amaral, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

September 2012


I thought the week was absolutely fabulous.  I can’t stop talking about it.  Jay is amazing – extremely talented, creative, funny, engaging, patient (although he may not think so), communicative, insightful.  I learned so much from him and now when I look through the viewfinder I think about framing, look for interesting lighting, gesture and color and finally ask myself if the shot is worth it.  That was a big take away for me….to be more selective in my shots.  The critiques were extremely helpful to me – they brought it all together nicely.  I loved hearing his perspective about art and how important it is to a photographer – it gave me a renewed interest in art.  Jay is so passionate about his work and it’s extremely encouraging and inspiring.  I walked away so inspired about continuing my photography and improving it.  I am also noticing light, color, gesture, shadows, reflections and screens all around me.

Jamie and Paul are wonderful.  So extremely helpful and patient as well.  I thought the workshop was really well planned and executed.

Thank you all for everything!

Michelle Olenick, Manhattan Beach, CA  

This was a wonderfully encouraging, creative, enlightening, and exhausting week. I would not have changed a thing, except perhaps to have made it longer. I feel that my skill level was not as well developed as everyone else in the class, but not one other person made me feel that way, least of all Jay. JayÕs love of what he does is absolutely infectious. After a life time of photography he still has a wonder and love for what he does, and transmits that to his students. I learned so much, and I know it has not all sunk in yet. I will continue to learn every time I shoot because of Jay. That small voice in my head will be JayÕs, reminding me of the many things he opened my eyes to. I learned to simplify the technical aspects of photography, and develop the art of seeing. It is trying to see everything in the frame, and be responsible for it that I am striving for now. JayÕs wonderful sense of humor had us laughing, thereby creating a very cohesive group. We all got along well, and I for one learned from others in the class as well as Jay. Thanks to Jaime and Paul for all their help too. I now take my camera everywhere with me. That was another lesson I learned. I want to thank Jay for sharing so much of himself, his joy, his knowledge, his creativity, his caring, and his passion with us. I am renewed and changed by my week with Jay.

Andi Lyons, Middletown, RI  

This has been one the most wonderful and enriching experiences of my life. I had been quited good with the camera technically, but i failed to SEE. And that is what I was hoping to get out this class. I deliberately delayed sending the feedback as I wanted to see how I have changed as a photographer. I have on  a trip to duluth and I was surprised to notice that I was seeing better, I knew what to shoot.

Jay has given me the confidence that i needed and also instilled in me a sense of wonder for things that are beautiful. A whole new world has opened up for me.

I think that the format of the workshop is very good.

It was also delightful to see Duane Michals.

Ishan Dhar, Edina, MN  

I learned SO much! Most importantly, was how to take a picture that won’t need editing later. Jay was relentless about analyzing backgrounds and pointing out detracting elements. He also emphasized capturing expression, which makes for great photography. All-in-all, I would take the class again just to hear Jay speak. He’s quite a treat!

Discovered that photography requires a passionate interest in life’s miracles.

Nicola Siso, Teton Village, WY  

The workshop is a unique opportunity to re-evaluate photography as the art form that it can be, rather than the product of technical mastery that it often is.  It is very refreshing to pay no attention to equipment and software, and to fully immerse oneself in the emotional and esthetic dimensions of the medium.

Jay is an accomplished artist first, a photographer second.  He provides context to the art not just by sharing beautiful images, but through the life musings and discourse that elevate its emotional appeal beyond the purely aesthetic.  Spending 5 full, intense days with him and his group of motivated and very talented students is a rare and precious gift.

Very special thanks to Jamie and Paul, who silently orchestrated and choreographed the myriad details that made this workshop happen.

The interactions with my fellow students, the city and the opportunities it provides for interesting people and places, and Jay’s world – both the splendidly eclectic locations where we worked and toured, his delightful wife, and his beautiful and deeply emotional prints.  I really loved the setup in the main hall:  the lighting, the work hanging, and the workbenches for editing.

Maurizio Laudisa, Canada  

Jay Maisel’s workshop is a bit like studying Zen. “Before studying Zen, your feet are planted firmly on the ground. While studying Zen, your feet hover precariously above the ground.  After studying Zen, your feet are planted firmly on the ground.” I came in thinking I had a pretty good idea of what photography is about and I made images that I liked. During the course, I was pretty sure I had previously had no idea whatsoever about photography and became quickly unwed from both my imagery and techniques. By the end of the course, I had a very new, concrete intuitive understanding of photography and I feel confident that by opening my mind to new imagery and techniques, good things will happen. To have a chance to see and capture some of the visual poetry we blithely walk by in our daily lives is a gift. Thank you Jay, Jamie and Paul.

Listening to Jay speak his mind spontaneously, whether in mid talk or during critique. That was priceless. I quite enjoyed the feedback loop of learning, trying to reflect it in shooting, then learning some more from critique, then doing it all over again. The intensive program was a rewarding format. The program was very well organized and Jamie and Paul were very helpful to the participants in every respect, especially on technical matters.

Ahab Abdel-Aziz, Toronto, ON, Canada  

There’s a strong emphasis on trying to get the image right “in camera”, not via post processing, which was great.  Some tips on shooting were useful and have modified how I set up my camera and shoot, for street photography anyway.

His critiques on the images submitted daily were welcome and helpful.  Participants can’t be too thin skinned though, he can be a bit confronting.  But it’s done with humor and, I’m sure, all good intentions and a desire to share his knowledge.

The other participants, as I’d hoped, were a positive addition to the week.  It was a good group with some great work on display.

Eating out at good local restaurants with other photographers was fun.

I’ve done some workshops where participants were sometimes left with too much time to sit in front of the computer.  This workshop seemed to do a good job of keeping this time down and getting participants out shooting or looking at and talking about images (“…get in here!”) – either Jay’s or the participant’s or in books etc.

Peter Ptschelinzew, Nimbin, NSW, Australia  

Jay Maisel’s workshop is a game changer.  My life has been redefined both personally and professionally by attending Jay’s workshop.  His passion – immeasurable, his enthusiasm – infectious, his drive- unfading, and in my opinion his intellect – genius.

Jay’s loyalty to teaching his students and giving his students the best that he has to give.

Jodi Willard, Santa Barbara, Ca  

Spending a week with Jay Maisel is an opportunity to grow in directions you might never choose for yourself. No matter your skillset or image making philosophy, Jay’s insights will open new doors. It is not a workshop for technical answers. It is five days of thinking and feeling about photography from different perspectives. While there is ample time during long days to shoot and learn, ironically the thing you end up wanting more of is Jay the person. Stories of Jay’s candor are legendary and well deserved, but you will laugh every day and revel in his joy for life and photography. It’s not a class for everyone. It’s for serious photographers who’ve come to realize great images are far more than the sum of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. In a nutshell, Jay is the “Wizard of Oz and The Man Behind the Curtain” simultaneously. If you’re ready for a trip that might take your photography new places he might be the most unique guide you’ll ever meet.

The unique mixture of humor and philosophical insight. Who’d have thought the “F” word and sensitive insight could be so symbiotic. The gallery / instructional space. Jaime and Paul’s attentiveness. Oh, and then there were the mini pecan rolls each morning!

Mark Alberhasky, Atlanta, GA

June 2012


All in all, it was a week of excellent and eye-opening experience, though a long and hard-working week physically. After arriving from Korea with 13 hour time-difference, 5 days of 16 hours of working day were almost torturing physically. However, Jay’s philosophy and insight to the photography kept me thrilled and awakened most of the time.

In the beginning, I was very much troubled with the time difference, over-crowded and unfamiliar NYC and different approach to the photography. However, as the week progressed, I came to realize a new world of photography with color and gesture, especially human expression and interaction.

I found this workshop unique and well-organized in the sense that it covers not only philosophy and insight to the photography, but also practical aspects of photo-making such as gear, archiving, printing and others.

What I enjoyed most from this workshop is the companionship and interaction with Jay and a learning opportunity, from Jay, for the master’s love and passion for the photography.

Young Lee, Yongin, South Korea  

All I can say is that on coming to the workshop I was looking for inspiration for my photography…  at the end of the week, I have not only found inspiration for my photography but also found inspiration for life in general.  If I can be as active as Jay is when I get to his age, then life has been good!

Simon Ransom, Dubai, UAE  

Jay made me think.  It may seem obvious but his simple comment “if you don’t love what you see in your viewfinder, what makes you think others will”, made a huge impact on my approach to photography.  You must connect.  You must form a relationship with your subject. You must capture it in a way that demonstrates the connection and the relationship.

Phil Halperin, San Francisco, CA  

I survived Jay Maisel’s workshop which appears to have made me overcome some inhibitions and he has offered me a constructive critique of my past skills or lack thereof and most importantly encouraged [yes, yes, yes] me and showed the way to be a better photographer. Each day’s experience built on the previous days input and output resulting in a cumulative benefit that was not expected nor obvious until the final fifth day.

Jay’s direct honesty and congenial but concise evaluation/comments was supportive and encouraging which went beyond expectation. [I enjoyed] Jay’s direct critique with suggestions that appear to be practical and simple to implement.

Morris Herstein, Naples, FL  

I found this week to be very valuable for me. I went to Jay’s workshop hoping to expand my boundaries as an artist and to learn, and this is exactly what happened. Jay is very perceptive and has developed a method of teaching that incorporates different learning styles.  It works!

I enjoyed the total immersion experience, which worked well for me.  It helped me to focus, apply what I was learning on a daily basis, and get feedback on my attempts.

Linda Wisnewski, Newton, MA  

I learned so much this week. Jay really shared his world with us, including his work, thought processes, work environment, camera techniques, and even his his home and family. My photography improved, and will continue to improve as I practice what Jay taught us. Not only did I develop a richer, deeper appreciation for art and what makes great photography, I feel like I gained a family, and I am very appreciative of this new sense of community, sharing, and belonging. This is a wonderful thing for photographers, since the work so often seems like a solitary endeavor…

I liked the way Jay uses his photos as well as our own photos to continuously drive home and reinforce what he teaches, i.e. Light, Color, and Gesture. Also, the readings about creativity and the internal world of the artist/photographer enhanced the instruction and the critiques. I enjoyed the food, the conversations, the group of people coming in from all different places, backgrounds, and experience levels.

Linda DiCosmo, New York, NY  

This week with Jay was remarkable. I think I got even more out of it than the first workshop two years ago. He has an incredible knack for making my photography better. Wish it could have been 10 days instead of only 5. It was fascinating to see how everyone’s images improved so much between Monday and Friday. And we had a tremendous amount of fun the whole time. Amazing.

Gail von Bergen Ryan, London, UK  

I had a great experience immersing myself completely in photography sun up to sun down everyday. Jay was so very generous with his time, feedback and home. It was great to have Jamie and John as helping hands for all aspects of technical help. The experience was enhanced by the other students in the class which made it feel like summer camp for grownups!

Becky Weidenkopf, Chagrin Falls, OH

May 2012


Everyone comes to Jay’s workshop with different levels of skill and attachment to photography. I came with photography as a life vest, keeping my head above an ocean of serious challenges. That greatly impacted my experience.

What I got out of last week were wonderful memories. You might want to hear about just the actual workshop experience but you should know it encompasses much more than listening to Jay. I was affected by every aspect of my trip.

This includes travel, meeting and getting along with new people, working alone and with a group, evaluating others’ work and listening to criticism about your work. Working, eating and sleeping on a different schedule, getting much less sleep than I’m used to, trying new foods, and being in an unfamiliar place are all pieces of the puzzle.

The bottom line: I loved it all. Every single minute of being in New York, meeting Jay, Jamie, John and the other photographers, shooting on the street, listening to Jay, viewing all the photographs, listening to the guest speakers, going to the gallery, ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. It was really and truly heaven for me.

Now for the meat of the experience, the payoff: Jay. He is kind, gracious, compassionate, truly caring, a real mensch in every way.

That does say it all, but I’m going to go on. Being able to ask the dumbest questions imaginable to someone who is so innately and tremendously gifted, and having them respond with kindness and the necessary direction is simply an exceptional opportunity.

Jay’s openness is the gift. The access he allows to his technique, his philosophy, his family, home and life is invaluable. And I absorbed every second of it. Again, what a gift. I know technical expertise will not in itself make a remarkable photograph. It takes more; it takes heart and soul. I got to witness both of those by getting to know Jay and his photographs.

I’m so appreciative of Jay offering this workshop and structuring it exactly the way he does. If I’m able and it’s still offered, I most certainly will take an alumni class. Only then I won’t bring a piece of shit camera.

Jerry Weber, Beverly Hills, CA  

This was a rare opportunity to spend time with a true master. Jay was generous with his deep knowledge of craft, his life philosophy, and his connections to New York City. “Have Fun,” and “Be Open,” are simple words, but it took a hard week of practice to make them meaningful. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to spend time at the Bowery. The whole thing far exceeded my expectations.

[I also enjoyed]  watching Jay walk around in the rain with his camera getting soaked. Seeing his dedication to living with a camera (and not babying it!) inspired me more than anything else. You can’t take pictures if you don’t have your camera!

Ian Tuttle, San Francisco, CA  

It was a great experience. I enjoyed learning from Jay as well as Jaime and John. I feel fortunate that the group included so many articulate, intelligent photographers. While the weather was terrible and I was off my game, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I was exposed to a lot of differing perspectives and the group dynamic was terrific. It was kind of like running a marathon: the pace was hard at times, but, I got a lot out of it (besides the blisters). I’ll be a better photographer now.

Clark Scott, Birmingham, AL  

Jay’s workshop is a Master Class in the comprehensive exploration of human expression and interaction as reflected through a photographer in his/her use of a camera.  That sentence is ordered in the precise order of importance in class emphasis, to wit: Jay is a Master at capturing human expression and interaction and is highly skilled in transmitting his experiences to others; his focus on the student as photographer is more a function of creativity and inner vision than on technology; camera technology and usage issues are explored to the degree required by each participant in order to make them proficient enough to use the tool in pursuit of their images.

Dan Heering, Wayne, PA  

A few times in a lifetime an opportunity comes along which has the potential to completely change how we experience the world we live in.  At first, I did not recognize the impact a week with Jay Maisel would have on my photography and life but as the workshop progressed I began to notice significant changes both in my approach to photography and how I perceive the world around me.  The daily interactions with Jay Maisel during critique sessions were insightful and brought a level of clarity to my photography and perception which can only be understood once experienced.  If you are at all serious about your photography and open to new experiences you must do this no matter what.  If you cannot afford it – find a way.  Skip buying the latest camera gear, sell all your gear but for one camera and one lens – none of that matters. What matters is that you do whatever it takes to enable you to go and take this workshop – I promise you, you will not regret it!

Jannik Plaetner, Saskatoon, Canada  

For me, the week with Jay was and continues to be transformational. It is a master class in the inquiry of, dialogue about, and challenge to how we see not only through the lens but how we see life. He raises our consciousness about being responsible for our experience and our outlook, as well as for every millimeter of our frames. Before arriving, I was nervous about presenting my 10 images for critique. By day 2, I couldn’t get enough of the critique sessions. It’s as if he shines a light on where we are stuck or even where we aren’t aware we are stuck and illuminates how and why we can stretch beyond that. It’s an endless stretching. And it’s such a treat to hear Jay’s candor in sharing how he experiences the ebbs and flows in his own creative process and life. I come from this class feeling that yes, my eye has refined and focused and in exciting new ways, but just as importantly, I am buzzed by feeling a renewed connection to the universal journey all artists share. If I had to sum up my experience in one word, it would be: Gratitude.

Liz Stubbs, Atlanta, GA  

A break in the pattern, a rip in the fabric, sharpness and focus in the world of art. Bracketing, bracketing, bracketing, and always carry your camera with you. In his workshop Jay Maisel shares his life dedicated to photography, his passion, his technique and the ways he looks at the world. Jay Maisel’s intense workshop is about you, the student. He assists you to find your own way and helps to open one’s mind to see and frame the world afresh. I enjoyed this workshop to the fullest. Jay’s lectures are witty, mind broadening and mesmerizing to say the least. His guest speaker, the genius, neat, cool and brilliant Sidney Sherman, entertained with the most funnily serious talk. I left the workshop with many good memories, but lots of bad pictures. Follow your heart, find your way.

Monica Pozzi, Brooklyn, NY  

I took this workshop because I wanted to experience life as a full-time photographer / artist studying with a master photographer, even if just for a brief short week. This workshop fulfilled my expectations and transported me into a way of living for, with, and surrounded by photography. Working with Jay was sometimes mysterious, but only this helped me find the questions I needed to ask. Jay was overwhelmingly generous with his time, knowledge, experiences, friends, and just being Jay. I entered the week nervous and insecure in my photographic expression. You can only build so much self-assuredness in one week, but I left with experiences that I can draw on when my angst would otherwise overwhelm me. I felt exceedingly challenged, yet fully supported and taken care of all at the same time.

The sense of community that formed between the classmates was nothing less than magical and I made deep friendships. I watched their images change and I wonder how they felt seeing mine change over the week.

I fly home now with new images, new experiences, new tools, new ideas, new friends, and new insights into being my own artist.

Nancy Lehrer, Thousand Oaks, CA

April 2012


I didn’t come to this workshop learn how to use my camera better, or master digital workflow, although a little extra work in those areas wouldn’t be a bad idea.  I came to learn composition and different ways of looking at the world, in the hope of creating more interesting photos in the future.  It’s not a textbook formula, but a way of thinking and exploring that opens you up to new possibilities.  Jay says that interesting people take interesting photos, and he has a lot of insight on different ways of thinking and seeing the world.  New York City is a fascinating place to practice .  By the end of the week, not only was I looking and finding new and different opportunities for images, but I was no longer as reluctant to walk up to people that really interested me and ask if I could photograph them, because I really wanted the shot.

Mary Newman, Duvall, WA  

Jay’s teachings of light, color, gesture and the frame are enlightening, even to one who believes he is well versed in photographing light and color.  As a result of Jay’s workshop, gesture is a part of my photographic vision as well as an awareness of the interplay of all of the elements in an image.

George Howard, Bellaire, TX  

Overall this was an eye-opening learning experience for me. Jay’s critiques and tips were insightful and instructive and have in a few days time made me a much more astute observer. I now carry a camera wherever I go. On one hand I am much more selective when shooting, but on the other I now see much more in terms of opportune moments to capture. Jay has indeed opened a door for me and I am excited to continue forward on this journey.

Larisa L., New York, NY  

This workshop allowed me to expand my image making capabilities beyond what I thought I could.  Jay provided specific feedback that left no question about what and how you needed to improve not only your view but also technically what was in your frame.  The mantra of “you are responsible for everything in your fame” became ingrained in my decision-making process by the end of the week. Time will tell if it is temporary or permanent.  This was the best lesson I took away from the Workshop.

Bob Herald, Laurel, MD

January 2012


This was not a workshop but something much more, an exploration into the essence of photography and how to better connect personally with my images. Jay and his team provide an experience beyond the physical camera through experience, critique and insight. If you are looking to take your images to a more artistic level the Jay Maisel Workshop Experience is for you. Warning, come prepared to laugh, cry and care more deeply about your work as art.

I enjoyed the image critiques and Jay’s personal insights into what photography means to him. While it sort of bothered me at first I really like that you did not provide a detailed description and agenda of what was occurring during the week. In short, you cannot describe the workshop it must be experienced. How do you describe a great bottle of wine, you can’t.

Bryan Vincent,

January 2012


The experience was great. Being loosed in New York City to take pictures was an amazing opportunity. I am sure that I am going to have moments for months to come that will be “. . . that is what Jay was talking about!” The intensity and passion that Jay has for the craft is infectious. Truly makes me want to apply his philosophy to become a better photographer.

Sheryl Sparks,

December 2011


Jay’s joie de vivre and passion for teaching is apparent. From 8:30 am Monday until Friday night we had a total immersion in the life and times of Jay Maisel. He is a gifted teacher and photographer who blends a week of multiple experiences into a first-in-alifetime workshop on enjoying capturing images about gesture, light and life (and color).

Jay clearly enjoys back and forth dialogue and I learned from engaging in conversation with him and being an astute observer of his and others work. Not only did I learn more about the fine art of photography, but also took home some teaching tips for my graduate students in my profession.

Added bonuses for me during the week were 2 sessions with two other professional photographers. One guest photographer was all about style/fashion and living in the world of arts; the other who is all about the passion about photo documentary work . They were both enthusiastic about showcasing their work with us, albeit choosing to show and share such different parts of the human spirit through the lens. Their respect for Jay and his work and teaching was apparent.

I have come away from the 5 days with Jay Maisel as a better photographer and observer of life. I will continue to integrate the principles presented throughout this week within my style of work.

Did I mention that I ate a lot?

Sue Michlovitz, Ithica, NY  

In retrospect I’ll just say that I loved every single second of this workshop. This is the greatest, most useful and most fulfilling photographic experience I’ve had to date. When I was debating whether to do the workshop I was a little worried that I probably don’t have enough skill to really make the best out of a $5K week. Boy was I wrong.

I am a beginner and I’ve only been taking photography seriously for a little more than a year now. I did a bunch of classes that gave me the basics about the tech side of things. I knew how my camera works and how light works but I was basically a blind man with a camera. I was making mediocre images at best but what’s even worse is that I wasn’t really sure what to do and how to improve. I came to this workshop looking for inspiration and I found just that. The photos that I take now are not masterpieces by any means but I see a huge improvement. I even dare say that I took my best images this week. This is not because Jay gave us a magical formula for taking great photos – it’s simply because this whole experience literally opened my eyes on many levels.

It really is up to you to make the best of this week. All one needs is to come with an open mind and a set of clear objectives. I knew what my problems are and in these 5 days I’ve resolved all of them … and got much much more in the process.

All in all this was an incredible experience. I learned and improved a lot. The food was outstanding and just being around so much passion and amazing people was absolutely worth it. On Friday I only wished the workshop wouldn’t end. I’m really glad I bit the bullet and did it and if I got the chance I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Rado Petranov, Worcester, MA  

Jay’s love and mastery of photography really shone through the week like a beacon cutting through the fog toward me. The words that best describe my experience are “transformative,” “responsible” and “inspiring.”

I see subjects now in terms of not only gesture, color and light, but as parts of frames for which I am entirely responsible. It is up to me to produce photographs that emotionally affect others by being aware of everything I include or exclude from each photo. Suddenly (after a week of hard work at the workshop), I am arranging my pictures more dynamically and with fewer distracting elements. I attribute the relatively quick jump in my abilities to the intensive nature of the week, during which I actually did nothing but sleep and immerse myself in photography every day.

Even more important than the transformations I had hoped for, however, was the inspiration that oozed almost unnoticeably from Jay’s teaching and example. What seemed at first like a laid back, folksy style began to imbed ideas and methods deeply into my conscious mind, and no doubt my unconscious mind, too. And beneath it all was a base of integrity in photography that is unfortunately lacking in our world today.

I was deeply touched by the entire experience and agreed with my fellow students that I wished it were lasting for another week.

Jim Magruder, Albany, OR

November 2011


Good teachers make you want to be a better photographer but great ones actually make you a better photographer….and Jay is a great one! It is not because he teaches you to do something different technically…. although you will learn new tips and techniques…. but because by listening to him share his unique vision of the world you learn a better way to express yours through your images. By getting you out of your photographic comfort zone, Jay encourages a new way of thinking about the world around you allowing you to ‘see’ things you did not before. The week went by far too quickly. This is the second time I have taken a workshop with Jay and I look forward to having the opportunity to do it again in the future. Thank you, Jay, for sharing your world with us for the week. You are an inspiration!

Renee Giffroy, Stamford, CT  

I’ve been away from photography for some time and this workshop reminded me why I took it up in the first place.   It provided a framework that could address someone at any stage without any unnecessary competitiveness.  The format allowed for working with Jay as well as other members of the group, and made for a very rich learning experience.  I appreciated the conviction that Jay brought to the critiques – including the straight talk about each photo.  Jay is so generous with sharing his work, his time, experience, galleries, workshop and ultimately his home.  Jamie and John were equally generous with their time and expertise.  I think the best advice prior to arriving at the workshop was to be open.  My advice would be don’t bother to come if you aren’t interested in a very intensive experience that includes long days, hard work, thinking for yourself, much group discussion and being put on the spot from time to time – but if you are up for it, it’s a wonderful experience.  I expect to hear Jay’s voice every time I take a photo for years – if not forever: “so you still couldn’t get rid of this white thing down/up/over here?” “you’re responsible for every square millimeter of your image”, “why is this cockeyed?”, “you kept in the lettering?!”, “have you learned nothing?” “when you’re working with something like this it’s not going anywhere so you should take the time to get it right” and my personal favorite: “what the fuck is going on here?”

Molly Faircloth, Atlanta, GA  

Jay has helped unlock my creative right brain. Prior to last week I never thought much about left brain/right brain, but now I understand. Jay emphasizes going out free of preconceived goals and being open to what comes before you. That is so different from how I had approached photography and life in the past. It makes a huge difference in how I interact with others. My photos will be forever changed for the better.

Many have commented that technique is not emphasized in the course. This is not entirely true. There were numerous technical improvements suggested during the week that have resulted in a huge improvement in quality for me.  Jamie and John, Jay’s assistants, play a significant role in helping each participant with technique

We went out as a group for lunch and dinner every day to great restaurants, all of which had been screened by him and his staff.

It was a great, unforgettable week.

Norm Diamond, Dallas, TX  

I learned so much about light, colour and ‘gesture’ – taking responsibility for every square millimeter of my image, not taking the viewer’s eye to a part of my image unless it is worth the journey, not cluttering any image with more than one theme/point; and thinking: “What message/point am I trying to convey/make in this image?” before I shoot it; and then asking: “Have I accomplished what I wanted?” after I have shot the image.

I also learned a lot about hard work, perseverance, rejection, shooting photographs ‘for the love of it’, not having a preconceived agenda when I go out shooting, celebrating in the success of others, and ‑ most importantly ‑ ‘judgment’; i.e. the ability of being able to self-reject any of my pictures that are not worthy of showing.

Another very beneficial aspect of the week is that I came to know Jay.  He is truly ‘one of a kind’; not only in terms of his extensive knowledge-base and his phenomenal artistry, but also in terms of his generosity of spirit, his humanity and his willingness to share his ‘trade secrets’ and his life’s experiences; and also in terms of his patience, his perception, his honesty, his cutting criticisms – but always coupled with a rational explanation ‑ his motivational insights and his openness in listening carefully to any range of questions on any range of topics, and to answer them with due consideration.

In terms of Jay’s cutting criticisms, the two that stick in my mind are: “This photo sucks in so many ways that I can’t even begin to describe it.” And, in relation to another photograph: “I don’t find any part of this picture to be compelling.”

What I liked is that Jay is prepared to ‘tell it like it is.’  If you cannot take criticism of your work, then this workshop is not for you.  The point is, however, that Jay’s aim is not to undermine anyone.  If you have shot a good photograph, he will tell you; but, by the same token, if you have shot a bad one, he will not be shy to tell you in no uncertain terms that it is bad.  However– and this is the valuable part – he will tell you why it is bad, so that you can learn for the next time.  He really does know what he is doing as a teacher, so, you have to cut him some slack during the week, and then compare your day 5 photos with your day 1 photos to appreciate what Jay has taught you to do – and, just as importantly – what not to do.

Robby Bernstein, Toronto, Canada  

I took the workshop in the hope of substantially improving my photographic abilities.

I asked Jay to help me recognize photo opportunities and he taught me to walk slower and always carry my camera at the ready.

I asked Jay to help me improve my photographs and he taught me to be responsible for what is in my frame, to shoot as if I cannot crop and to remove extraneous items so the picture is specific.

I asked Jay how would I know when I am successful and he told me that in art there are not the objective criteria as in business. He told me to photograph what excited me regardless what others may think and to accept failure as part of growth.  Jay told me to listen and learn from the criticism of others but not to necessarily agree.  He told me to go out and have fun.

I went to a gallery the day after the workshop ended and realized I will never look at photographs the same again.  I even think I can now edit my work.  The workshop met my expectations and I had loads of fun.

Louis Kravitz, Encino, CA  

This week was an incredible gift for me. I can’t remember when I was able to spend an entire week focusing on one thing, surrounded by individuals also committed to enhancing and expanding their own expertise. Tolstoy once said, “Everyone thinks of changing humanity but few think of changing themselves.” This week is all about changing yourself as an individual. It makes no difference about what others around you are doing. Their thinking and reflection can help but their process is their own gift. Jay’s critique will help but ultimately you have to be prepared to change yourself.

Now, I can understand your struggle in explaining the workshop. I have tried to do the same thing over the last couple of days and found that mere words simply cannot convey the power of the experience. How can I process a life time of learning in one week and even more challenging how can I process one week of learning in a life time. I made notes coming back on the train and I have spent several days reflecting on your question. My thoughts are random but these notes capture the experience from my perspective.

First, as of Saturday AM, my legs were sore, my butt was sore, my brain was sore and yet I was left wanting more.  It was as if I had attended a marvelous seven-course banquet each day and by Friday night I was intellectually (and physically for that matter) full.  At the same time, by Monday I was hungry (yes even starving) again.

Participants need to come with several thoughts in mind. First and foremost, one needs to be prepared to be flexible and to be prepared to let go of one’s own preconceived notions. While I pride myself on this ability as I teach others, it was challenging and refreshing to be in the position of a learner.

Critique is tough. We have become far to accustomed in our society to looking for the one right answer and expecting smooth responses to easy questions. Real criticism is not easy to give or receive and yet it is truly the only way one will grow. Learning to become one’s own toughest critic was a key part of the week for me. I am not there but heading in that direction. I see so much more when I am framing a picture now. Jay’s comments are clearly not meant to help you feel good or bad about your work but rather they are meant to help you see your own work in a new light and to improve in your photography, creativity and art.

As I have continued to reflect on this idea of critique, I kept thinking about my reaction to what I perceived as negative criticism. I realize I cared much more deeply about some of my shots then I realized. I learned to let go and in the letting go of good or bad, I was able to see far more deeply into the possibilities of my own work. In addition, it is very clear now that there was no negative intent. Rather the intent was on the presumption by Jay that we were all intellectually and emotionally capable as adults of engaging in the process of critique and growth. Actually, I think the work of this week and Jay’s leadership models that lifelong learning is not an option but rather it is a need and sustains creativity.

So at this point, through Jay’s prodding and nudging, I am in a much better place. Ultimately, it is not about the grade, it’s about the learning; it’s not just about the learning it is also about the questions that we ask each other and ourselves. I must also be far more comfortable accepting that there will always be more questions than answers.  The seeking of answers may help understand the questions at a deeper level but the process of seeking is far more important than the answer.

Number one for me was the opportunity to place my life on hold and focus on photography for one week in a highly intellectually stimulating environment. Blended with this opportunity was the chance to interact with Jay. I found his style compelling and appreciate that there was no recipe for the week. Real learning does not reduce itself to recipes or the one right answer. I also enjoyed the reflective dialogue and critique. I have been involved in many different learning experiences over my life in school, staff development, business and the military. This week was the number one best experience of my career. I would be remiss not to say that spending the quality time with Jay was the absolute highlight of the week. His insights and instincts have helped me to become a better photographer and person. He was the grain of sand in my intellectual oyster and by the end of the week I discovered that I had found a pearl.

Fred Morton, Henrico, VA

October 2011


This workshop has been about so much more than taking pictures.  Jay has given me a week of experiences that will forever enrich me as a human being. We saw a side of New York that many of us would not normally seek out.  Our photography began to be informed by the new sites and the sounds of the lower east side of New York. We began to look with a different focus as Jay imparted his experiences to us.

Jay is a tough, generous guy who loves what he is doing.  His talks, anecdotes and insight are invaluable.   If your work is missing the elements of a good photograph he tells you.  And he encourages the class to be honestly critical as well.  Sometimes the criticism can be stinging, but the end result was that we all began to take better pictures. His generosity of spirit is matched by his encyclopedic knowledge of photography.  He exposed us to a salon of photographers to see their work.  He brought a fascinating photographer to our class to speak to us and share his work.  He laid out countless books and quotes and photographs for us to study.

Any comments would not be complete without mentioning Jamie and John, his two assistants.  They made sure that everything ran smoothly.   They were there to help with any issues we might have.  They patiently answered any of our questions and made sure we understood it well.

We ate some of the best food I have ever eaten.  We went to a variety of restaurants and each one was better than the next.

By the end of the week I was exhausted.  I felt like I was on sensory overload.  It was hard to sleep at night because each day was so full.  When I should have been sleeping I was replaying our tough and wonderful days.

Jay mentioned that he has an alumni group.  I am sure that I will be one of his return students.

Deanna Bittker, New York, NY  

This workshop provides a distinctive experience: the opportunity to see New York street life through fresh eyes and sensibilities, stimulated and challenged by the company of a charismatic artist and photographer, the legendary Jay Maisel. Jay’s critique of my own work helped me realize the importance of his exhortation: “If you’re not your own severest critic, you’re your own worst enemy.”

Also, a few of Jay’s technical tips have already changed my shooting (for the better, I hope) – especially his advice about choices to make better pictures, not better pixels. The logistics all work well – an amazing studio, expert assistants, wonderful restaurants, and the greatest street scenes you can imagine. Finally, I’d say that the experience is greatly enhanced by the company of a diverse group of aspiring photographers.

Richard Kashnow, Atherton, CA  

I was nervous going into the workshop with Jay. With no formal training but years of photography I just didn’t feel confident in my work. The first day I had to defend my photos to Jay and the class which forced me to really look at my work like I never have before. Originally I thought I was going to dislike this, but it became the best part. The critique became a real plus in my way of learning new ways of taking photos. Jay also took me out of my comfort zone by forcing me to shoot in a high ISO,  and looking through the camera to make sure there where no background detractions to take away from my subject.

What I thought was going to be a long week with long hours each day became a short week with not enough hours. The discussions where wonderful, the speaker was enlightening. Seeing Jay’s work was inspirational and fun. I just can’t say enough about the workshop; overall it was marvelous. And we can’t forget the restaurants.  All I can say is, the restaurants were so good that I am glad that I did a lot of walking when going out for our photo sections. What an amazing workshop.

Tom McMahon, Glendale, MO  

This workshop exceeded the high expectations that I set for it.  It was a complete immersion into photography from 8:30am Monday morning until 10:00pm on Friday night that left me fulfilled, exhausted and changed.

Jay’s style is refreshing.   I love the stories that he told, the way he pulled them into lessons and critiques.  There are so many takeaways for me but I think the biggest ones are that we ‘own every millimeter of the frame’, ‘take the shot that no one else is taking’ and you have to work for the shot.  I initially went in thinking that it was a good thing that I typically get the shot I want in a few clicks.

The day after the workshop I was I shooting a view of central park from the 40 story of a building.  I ended up spending about an hour working for the shot I wanted and ended up getting what I believe is my best photograph ever.   Looking for a the right shot and the shot that no one else was taking I hung my camera out the window against the building I ended up capturing Central Park West reflecting into the building that I was in.   It was so rewarding to see what wasn’t there for me before.

This is truly a once in a lifetime experience.  For anyone who is serious about photography and wants to significantly improve in a short amount of time this course is a something that you must take.

Dave Powell, Tokyo, Japan  

What an incredible experience. After 35 years as a photographer I wouldn’t have imagined that a single workshop would have had such a significant impact on the way I photograph, view my surroundings and understand myself. By the end of the week Jay’s lectures about light, color, and gesture formed a solid framework I was able to use to improve my images. The experience of walking up to strangers in NYC was frightening for the first few days but with the help of Jay and others in the class it turned into a completely rewarding experience, one I’ll take with me moving forward.

Russ Wright, Castro Valley, CA  

When a photograph or a painting “speaks to me” or draws me in, I wonder what it is about the image that has affected me. I wonder why it has created that funny feeling in my stomach.  Having heard so much about color and gesture and lighting from Jay, it all seems to make so much more sense now.  It is more obvious why one image can have so much more “wow” than another.

I also find myself wondering about the artist. Who are they? Educational background? Other work?  One can read books and look at pictures, but this workshop gave me so much more on that level.  I feel this workshop gave a wonderful peek into Jay’s life as a photographer and what makes him tick.  I loved his openness and honesty on so many aspects.

To get the most out of this workshop, I believe the attendant should expect to give 100% of themselves.  So, anything I personally did not get from this workshop, is only a result of my own actions.  [They should] post a disclaimer that anyone even slightly on the timid or quiet side should leave it at home.

Cindi Polansky, Scottsdale, AZ  

I was an amateur photographer on the way to becoming a professional photographer and I feel like in the last week I received the tools to pursue this dream. Jay pushed me to become a better photograper. It is truly up to you what you get out of this class but if you can’t walk through the doors that Jay opens for you then maybe you just weren’t ready for this experience.

I think the honesty with which he conducts the class with is the best thing about the class. I liked the fact that most days he would walk with us to lunch and when walking would happily talk to you or answer whatever questions you would have.

Jay has changed my life. I don’t mean this in some cheesy way to kiss his ass. I just mean that he has completely changed the way that I view the world from a photographic perspective.

I enjoyed the free flowing schedule. It was very organic. We had a unique situation where we had rain for an entire day. We went out that day and had 3 hours to shoot and I got some of my best shots of the entire workshop. I think there was a good balance of shooting and lecturing. I also enjoyed the honesty in the critiques. I feel that Jay’s honesty gave me a better idea of how to better create and compose a picture without having to do a ton of work in post.

Jeff Webster, Carrollton, TX  

I have a better sense of what makes a picture work. Studying art is important to photography; get out and shoot every day. Or should I say, get your ass up and take some pictures. It was a great time, among the five best days I have spent in a long time. I plan to do it again next year.

Jeff Cashdollar, Goodlettsville, TN

September 2011


When I think of Jay, the word that first comes to mind is, ‘finesse’. Then it gets flooded with expressions such as, exalted, wise, witty, observant, nurturing, master, teacher. Guru.

Instructions and assignments aside, one can’t help being overwhelmed by Jay’s work, the strength of its subtlety, the intensity of its strength. Just being in his environment, in his aura, fills one with a sense of gravity and inexplicable contentment.

The workshop was a week of instructions, insights and observation. Of identifying interesting events and celebrating serendipitous situations. Of planning and spontaneity.

Colour, gesture and light have become so much more meaningful to me. I can see that translating that into my work too.

While not as intense as I was expecting it to be, the workshop made me get out of my comfort zone and do things that I never thought would come to me naturally.

‘Jaywalking’ in New York city just took a whole new meaning!

Jay’s strength, his perceptiveness and artistry, combined with a great sense of humor and patience all made for great workshop, one that I’m happy I travelled nearly eight thousand miles to do.

Suruchi Choksi, Mumbai, India  

This workshop is about the aesthetics of photography, color and composition without being overly reliant on technical terms. By the end of the workshop my taste had been refined and I was seeing differently. I was better tuned into spotting moments and capturing them with greater precision. Opportunities for photographs would jump out at me and I was less likely to pass them by.

Stephen Sokolov, Ontario, CA  

I’ve taken a lot of workshops, but this one is different. It (Jay) helped me to focus on the essence of the art instead of technique. F stops, shutter speed and ISO took a back seat to subject, mood and vision. Jay makes you think, and then think some more. He is blunt and insightful, but always with the objective of helping his participants enjoy themselves while improving their skills. He exceeded my expectations in pretty much every dimension. I will be gaining insight from what we covered for a long time to come.

Paul Wollam, Fountain Hills, AZ  

Jay’s workshop is a unique mixture of philosophy, photography and exploration.  I thoroughly enjoyed the way he explained his philosophy on life and creating compelling photographs through endless quotes and through his remarkable body of work.  This philosophy was reinforced as I explored the streets of New York searching for the opportunity to demonstrate my understanding of his basic principles.  Of course, as we went through the critique sessions, it was clear that all of us had room for improvement but as the week ended, it was also clear everyone had made substantial progress.   I left with a razor sharp focus on creating a compelling composition in the viewfinder.  In addition to the core workshop, the tours of his fascinating building, the great restaurants and guest speakers made for a very special week.

Jerry Held, San Jose, CA  

The workshop did just what I had hoped—got me back to my camera and gave me feedback and inspiration. I had spent a year or using mostly the wrong side of my brain, and this brought me back to the pleasures of my photography. It also reminded me of what I used to tell my kids when I was a TA: the raw material of photography is not (then) film, but time–as Jay would say, to take the meanders and self-critique. I have been much too efficient, and now I am happy to start going the other way. It also made me remember how much I love photography, though I was pretty frustrated with my work last week. Great week. So glad I did it!

Charlotte Temple, St. Helena, CA

September 2011


Thank you all for a wonderful week. It has given me so much stimulation and needed confidence. The workshop was well run on time and full of interest. It was great to have group interaction when we shown our daily work. Jay’s import was super, realistic and honest. Not overwhelming, but helpful and aware. Now I look for my depth of field and surrounds as I compose my image. Thank you for everything Jay, your inspiration and your generous output. Jamie and John were both ready and able to help that was great. I would love to return and will recommend it if asked. I love your part of New York, new to me and so stimulating.

I left on such a high, many, many thanks.

Sue Darvall, Australia  

I came to this workshop to find out in which direction I should further develop my photographic skills. This target was achieved 100%. In his very unique way, Jay has shown me my strengths and weaknesses and has given me invaluable advice on how to improve my shooting.

Besides this, I also learned many things about photography that I had previously been unaware of, including the whole concept and the interrelations of Light, Gesture and Color and the philosophy behind visual arts.

Finally, I thoroughly enjoyed the holistic approach of the workshop – 5 solid days of photography, wonderful food in carefully selected restaurants, and great camaraderie in the team.

My special thank you goes to Jay’s assistants, Jamie and John, who did their very best to make this week a truly unforgettable experience.

Klaus-Peter Statz, New York, NY  

I could resume my experience and participation in the workshop with two reasonings. The first would be filled with so many superlatives… When you have ten students embraced in 5 days of photography from the maestro of photography you will be amazed in the music you can create with the art of photography.

The second is a quote a company stole from me “Just do it” and enjoy the moment, I certainly did.

I was very hesitant in signing up with the course because of the expenditure, but that quickly faded away literally within minutes.  The experience was rewarding.  I have a more profound insight to photography which helped me have the desire to believe in my creativity.

I could not write without mentioning the outstanding choices of restaurants.

The workshop team with Jamie and John answered all my questions. They were there to help me with any needs. As mentioned in the first paragraph,  I could write so many wonderful words; it is an amazing experience!

Joe Losito, Sherbrooke, Canada  

What an amazing week! From the first morning when Jay asked us all how often we go out shooting, and then told all of us that it wasn’t enough, we practiced what he preached for five straight days. We hit the streets with our cameras at 6am, and spent each day completely immersed in shooting, critiquing, examining and talking photography until falling into bed to start it all again the next morning. And if that makes it sound like a grind, I can only say that it was the furthest thing from it. Each day I felt more excited about what we were doing and about the pictures I was taking. Jay’s level of enthusiasm for pictures and picture-making and his excitement over the sheer joy of seeing are infectious.

The shooting was a blast. It seemed like every time I went out, New York offered up at least one incredible visual gift. The critiques were blunt (sometimes to the point of hilarity), but fair, and I think one of the skills I dramatically improved was my ability to quickly pick the best shots of the day and waste no more time on the others. The discussions, notes and visual resources that were available to us could have absorbed me for years.

I came away from the week with a new resolve to work hard, not just at making pictures, but at making the best possible pictures at all times. Listening to Jay, and investigating his photographs and studio, you learn a receptiveness to the visual world that I truly believe I will carry forward in my future work. Most of all I came away excited to see the next pictures that I make, and the ones after that.

My heartfelt thanks to Jamie and John for your considerable efforts in making everything flow without a hitch, and of course to Jay who welcomed us into his world for five unforgettable days.

Janet Taylor, Toronto, Canada  

Jay’s wisdom and great insight combined with practical knowledge + great arrangements made the whole week an experience from “another world”. It is difficult to explain, but after a week from arriving home my mind is still in Bowery, not in Finland… Warmest thanks to Jay, Jamie and John for everything!

Helena Ahman, Espoo, Finland  

Wow!  What an experience! Light, Color and Gesture–Learning with Jay really was fun!  I think about my photos differently after a week with Jay—I shoot more selectively and pay more attention to how I take pictures.  The week flew by…

It will take me a while to assimilate all I learned.  The process with Jay was one of absorption and total immersion—a rare chance for me to do nothing but shoot and learn!  I loved every minute of being there!

Elisabeth Biggerstaff, Savannah, GA  

Loved every minute of the course and it has instilled in me a new work ethic and attitude. I guess I had allowed myself to become both complacent and possibly not as excited about my work. Jay has opened my eyes and mind to the excitement in life that I had put on the back burner. I feel that will never happen again.

David Pickens, East Liverpool, OH  

So, what am I taking home from the workshop. I will mention a few of the highlights but am sure it will take months and even years to assimilate all that I learned in the 5 days in Manhattan that start at 6:30 in the morning and end at 10 in the evening or even midnight. I cannot tell you how important his assistants Jamie and John were in making the workshop successful – highly, no very highly, knowledgeable about cameras and computers and software, and, and, and.

Light, gesture, and color – and you are responsible for every square millimeter of your photograph – yes, when you take it, not after you have altered the photo with some fancy-dancy software.  If it does not add anything to the picture, do not include it; no unintended distractions. Jay was a very gracious host, sharing his magnificent home, extensive photographs, phenomenal things collections, knowledge of the craft and art, and most importantly himself.

Have I mentioned food? Each day started with a light breakfast at his home and was continued with lunch and dinner at favorite neighborhood  restaurants, all really good, and several in the excellent category. One of my callings being “chef-ery,” I know what I say. Back from a temporary diversion, there are many aspects to light and color,but the most important characteristic of a photo is gesture. If there is no gesture, the photo is not worth taking, and certainly not worth looking at or asking anyone else to spend their time. The ultimate source for explanation of gesture is Jay Maisel. Jay Maisel I am not, but he certainly contributed to who I will ultimately be as a photographer and probably as a human being. I now have an awareness, not there before my week in Manhattan. We all have people in our lives who have made an impact, our parents, a close friend, a teacher, maybe even someone famous – no question that Jay is on many lists.

Dan Biggerstaff, Savannah, GA  

Yesterday morning I got up and went over to the computer to check some photographs, and I had a new feeling: a feeling of confidence that I never experienced before. It was subtle, but the nervous anxiety, slight as it may have been, was gone, and in its place was a confidence that I was capable of delivering. And I had the steps to do so: no lens cover, always carry the camera, check white balance, check aperture and depth of field, aim, LOOK, and shoot. Simple as this seems, it seems as a matter of course now, just like the camera is no longer heavy. Truly that is the lesson of the week. Thanks to you all.

Jonathan Foster, East Hampton, NY

June 2011


The week exceeded all expectations – Jay’s honesty, humor, openness, insight as an artist, and ability to connect with people was disarming and allowed for new work to emerge. I feel different, my camera feels different, my relationship to my work has changed and I’m excited but what is ahead. I haven’t left the house once without a camera and realize it’s impossible to be a part-time photographer and get better. I came in with years worth of dissatisfaction with my images and image making. They were okay but it didn’t feel that I had moved/improved in a long time. I have never worked harder in a workshop before (as the blister on day 2 proved!), the hours of shooting, short nights, living and breathing images, critiques, etc. had an effect. I’m happy about the journey again, enjoying “seeing” and making pictures. I left the week realizing the road ahead is fraught with uncertainty and failure but it is the only thing that will make me a better photographer. I’m ready!

The critiques – I found them insightful, honest, and eye opening. Images that I would not have given a second look, Jay found something in that caused me to look again. The honesty of “who cares?” as reaction to one my images was spot on and shook me out of caring about a bland image. The exercise of cropping out an element or area to see what is lost was a new way, and useful, approach.

Brian Mittelstaedt, West Henrietta, NY  

This was the best way I could have spent my vacation, Being in a new place in life for a while I really think Jay has re inspired a lot of my ambition through simplicity of the moment! So many times we get bogged down with the day to day grind of newspaper photography and forget why we were there in the first place. Just to watch this philosophical genius in action with the eye of a twelve year old was a treat.

On a technical level Jay has also reintroduced the things that I had forgotten and showed me somethings I wasn’t even remotely aware of!

It’s always cool to be around several like minded  people that desire the same knowledge, we had a great group of students who shared and cared.

Joe Duty, Decatur, TX  

I thoroughly enjoyed last week at Jay’s workshop.  Jay’s emphasis on shooting with spontaneity and intuition was like turning the clock back to the days when I fell in love with the medium.  Jay is encouraging, but direct and has a good sense of humor.  Since the workshop I am more excited about photography than I have been in a very long time.  It was like recharging my batteries.

[I enjoyed] wandering around photographing people and scenes in a spontaneous way.  It was liberating for me.  [I also enjoyed] receiving solid and encouraging feedback.

Carmel Fromson, New York, NY  

I’d read in a previous student’s comments that this workshop changes your life. I thought, uh oh, am I signing up for a photography course with Deepak Chopra? But then the workshop indeed changed my life.  When Jay talked about responsibility for the frame, his study of art history, his pictures and how he thrillingly got them, my own perceptions shifted.  The image was no longer just “out there” on the streets of NY. I started to see how I see everything. I went out to shoot with appreciation and pleasure rather than with judgement or expectation. I am no Diane Arbus, but the most unexpected and amazing people and scenes entered my viewfinder. Jay is critical and rough, a papa grizzly. But his philosophy and practice are subtle and deep. My biggest disappointment with the workshop? That it had to end.

Harriet Rubin, Portland, OR  

This workshop was not just an immersion into photography for me. Jay Maisel runs a tight ship, he invited us to spend 5 days with him from AM to PM totally immersed into photography. We ate all meals together, chatted about everyday things and shared jokes. This was a total paradigm shift for me. I already had a glimpse into his work and life from his website, the kelby training videos and many other snippets on the web. However these 5 days gave me a great perspective into his mind. I love the fact that he is like a 6-year-old child, always curious and wonderful. I hope I can integrate this simple policy into my life too. I am humbled and awestruck. Thank you for 5 wonderful days. Thanks to Jamie and John too for answering my several questions and being wonderful hosts.

Aruna Talapatra, Waukesha, WI  

Behind the doors of the graffiti covered bank building I found a world far removed from my daily existence. Inside, I was encouraged to explore my creativity and to do things differently. Most importantly, I learned to open myself up to the beauty and serendipity around me. The many examples of Jay’s work and the objects he has collected are a treasure trove to explore, but I soon found that the ultimate treasure was to be found on the streets of the city.

There I was filled up with a kaleidoscopic world of ever-changing colors, light of every quality and direction imaginable, and the gesture found in human interaction and in the unique qualities of even mundane objects. The cross section of humanity in all its diversity is impressive to see and a delight to record with the camera. The terror of taking a photo of something that may disappear at any second gives way to the occasional exhilaration of capturing a fleeting moment of beauty.

The week was over in a flash, but the inspiration stays with me and I now try to carry a camera with me at most times. Once you start opening yourself to be receptive to the visual triggers around you, the opportunities to take photos increase exponentially. Without a camera at the ready, however, those opportunities will be lost. The end of the week with Jay represents a new beginning for me as a photographer as I now hear a little voice encouraging me to look in all directions, work at creating the best image possible, and to learn from my failures. And, most of all, to have fun.

Random memories: The eclectic music playing during the breaks- jazz, hip hop, country, even (very appropriately) Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused.” Portable light stands and A clamps used as lighting fixtures on the walls. A basketball court in a photo studio- why not? A collection of… electric toothbrush heads.

Many thanks to Jamie and John for making everything flow seamlessly and to Jay and his family for their graciousness in welcoming us into their home.

Mark Caceres, Atlanta, GA  

My reason to take this class was simple: to photograph people, not from the back, not using a telephoto lens, but by engaging and collaborating with total strangers on the streets of New York. I knew that taking this particular workshop would force this objective, and it did. I’ve shot people as I’ve never have before, and this is a new beginning after photographing for 30 years.

[I enjoyed] having to photograph people, learning to engage, collaborate, and create a photo, as well as trying to capture the moment. I liked the generality of assignments, with a simple goal: shoot people, rather than specific, stringent assignments. Also, I enjoyed the other participants, everyone was enjoyable and fun to work with.

Darrell Sano, Oakland, CA  

Excellent – overall the Jay Maisel Workshop exceeded expectations and I am sure Jay’s guidance, his images and stories, and Lyle [Owerko] guest appearance, will remain alive to get me up and keep me pushing, making me a better photographer, artist, and person. As a 65th birthday present to myself, it was great. Thanks to all for that.

[I also enjoyed] the photo crits. Learning first from others and then having Jay jump in, sometimes gently steering us to see the shot differently, sometimes more strongly expressing an idea, and rarely, but most enjoyably using the shot as a springboard for a story – a learning point or a guide on what to explore more with that subject.

Michael Dyett, San Francisco, CA  

What a week!  I hadn’t realized the intensity before Day 1.  It was more than I had hoped for – from shooting on the street, to editing, to critiquing, to listening to Jay’s philosophy (light, gesture and color).  Jay really opened up his world to us – a five-day glimpse at what it means to be a world-class photographer.  Just to have the luxury of time to immerse oneself in photography for sometimes 15 hours a day was a real joy.  It was a humbling experience, yet I learned a great deal.  I’m not looking at images the same; I keep hearing a little voice reminding me of the triangles in the corner and the distractions of lettering.  Jay’s thoughtful reflections on the world he sees, his voracious appetite for good food, his openness to share his talent and his eagerness to answer our questions all made for an amazing week.

One can’t reflect on five days without mentioning Jamie (the workshop coordinator) and John (the lab assistant).  Both were so helpful in so many ways, especially about technology.

Juliana Post, Norwalk, CT

May 2011


What a great experience! It was a week I will always remember. I have inhaled quite a lot of information & I will continue to hear Jay’s voice in the back of my head for a long time encouraging me to step outside my comfort zone. Thank you for a mind opening & body expanding experience. I have a lot of work to do & will love doing it. I will be back for an alumni class but only after I have put in the time & energy to improve!

Patti Travers, Seattle, WA  

I came to the Maisel workshop with only an elementary ability to edit my own work. Defining what’s good and what isn’t has always been difficult for me. But the workshop, centered around Jay’s criticism of our daily shoots, changed all that. His explanations of how I could have framed an image to make it better, or whether I could have waited an extra 30 seconds to get a better shot, or how I might look behind me to see what the light is doing, made for a learning experience that changed the way I think about photography in general and my own work in particular. And one notable take-home, to paraphrase Jay: if a person agrees to let you photograph them, give them the respect they deserve by taking your time.

Mitch Sayare, Boston, MA  

I learned how to tune my eye better and how to really delve into my photos and make them better. I also learned how to make photos sharper and more intriguing.

Jeff Yates, Omaha, NE  

My five days with Jay were incredible. I wasn’t sure what to expect prior to the class and I’m glad I didn’t know. I read all the feedback from previous attendees, but as soon as the workshop started for me, it became my own personal experience. I haven’t a clue what anyone else got out of the workshop, it’s completely personal. I’ve been to other workshops but nothing compares to Jay’s. It’s organized to the minute, the food is amazing, every detail is taken care of by Jamie and there was nothing to distract me from Jay, the critques, the discussions or the meals.

Jay has a million pages of notes that he read to us during the week and it was mesmerizing. He is brilliant. The bank building is a true testament to who Jay is. He’s funny, sweet, warm and unbelievably giving. He made us feel like family.

Being with him, listening to him and allowing him to share his life with us for five whole days was an opportunity to live the photographic life for a short while. I had to pinch myself quite a few times during the workshop. I don’t think I’ll every have another experience such as this. I wish it was a few days longer. I will never forget any part of this week.

Each day was perfect. We went out shooting early morning and all gathered at Jays at 8:30 am to edit whatever we shot the day before and in the morning on our journey to the bank. At first I shot with other people and then realized that it’s better to shoot on our own. It was also encouraged. Each day is different and very full. Very full!

I’m just blown away. I came home a different person, personally and professionally. I believe that my personal photography will be much different from this moment on and I’m excited to see the changes, whenever they come.

Janet Wolbarst, Wayland, MA  

Many years ago, I taught hundreds of people how to juggle. Initially, I would lecture, demonstrate, distribute handouts, show videos and lots of other traditional ‘teaching’ methods and then they would start practicing. After a few classes, I noticed that everyone was totally bored. Over time, I cut the ‘teaching’ to 10 minutes, handed out practice balls and individually showed each student the one thing they were doing wrong at that moment and how to improve. Imagine that but hundreds of times more complicated and you get a sense of what Jay is doing. Asking one of the world’s greatest photographers with sixty years of experience to ‘teach’ photography would be insane. Having Jay look at hundreds of our photographs and point out the one or two things that would help each student at that point in time take a small step forward is more valuable and interesting and inspiring than you can imagine.

Doug Johnson, Marlborough, MA  

I counted 5 well-known, well-regarded photographers we met in addition to Jay and the others in class. That was a nice surprise. I enjoyed hearing their point of view and seeing their work as well as the opportunity to meet them in person.

Before the workshop I never really thought about how much I would learn from the others in the group, looking at their work, having them critique mine. It was an additional positive experience. Lunch and dinners together also gave us a chance to share our thoughts and ideas on a passion we share. I very much appreciated the downtime meals provided us in terms of getting to know one another a little better and conversing about photography, and not have to worry about boring the other person who could care less about creating images, you know, Living and Breathing Photography!

Learning to edit my work is a big take away for me. Over the 5-day workshop, my understanding, confidence level and ability to edit improved. Going forward my daily visual push-ups will include editing my work.

Elizabeth Kahane, New York, NY  

Mind-blowing. This was an experience that changed my life. The freedom to explore New York and dig into Jay’s mind was unlike anything I have been privileged to do before. There was no pretense; everyone was welcomed, brutalized, and celebrated equally. I can’t imagine a more constructive experience for a person that takes their craft seriously and wants to be truly honest and self-critical.

Tim Yates, Miami, FL  

I used to photograph places, events, and objects. And patience — very useful when waiting for people to move out of the picture. I went to the Kentucky Derby to photograph horses, Egypt to photograph the pyramids, Aruba to photograph sunsets on the beach…

The first day, Jay showed us how to improve our favorite images. The workshop could have ended then, and I would have been happy. But it didn’t.

As the workshop progressed, I began to see the world with “new eyes.” I wanted to include people in my photographs. I started looking for moments, expressions, and gestures. Eyes, hands, and feet became important. I made better use of light and color. Photographic opportunities were everywhere. Then I realized that I have been around those opportunities my entire life. I just never noticed them.

I now begin my new photographic journey with a fresh approach. I will no longer treat places, events, and objects as the only subjects, for I know a better subject is probably close, if I will only look. I want to return to many of the places I have visited so I can see what I missed. I want to explore new places. But, before I go on any trips, I have one very important project to start. I want to see what I have missed in my hometown.

Rick Love, Hot Springs, AR  

Jay is amazing (or course, just by reviewing his work you can see that his images are amazing). His knowledge of Photography & Art, as well as his ability to communicate photographic concepts, are all amazing. His home is amazing (no matter where you call home, you will be envious). Meeting like-souled people engaged in a common pursuit is amazing.

I made many concrete improvements during the week; and implemented many more abstracted, conceptualized modifications to my looking and shooting. By the end of the week you’ll be living in terms of light, color and gesture; and wondering how you ever saw things any other way.

Jamie and Paul (and all of the guest speakers) were amazing. The workshop runs like a well-oiled machine.
Add New York, the tremendous food, and the fashion; and the only thing missing is you. Do yourself a favor; write the check and mail it off – right now. You deserve it; and everyone who views your images upon your return will thank you too!

Larry Silva, Chicago, IL

April 2011


As a person with limited technical photographic knowledge, the workshop was invaluable. The focus on philosophical and practical discussions enabled me to grasp the valuable esthetic and subconscious information that should and should not occupy the frame.

Peter Cole, Salt Lake City, UT  

I believe Jay Maisel’s workshop has allowed me to better observe my surroundings, greatly improve my ability to photograph people, gain a better foundation for creative growth and not be “satisfied” or settle for the ordinary. Most surprisingly, this is just a small part of the benefit I derived from this unique opportunity.

What was most remarkable to me, is how Jay puts photography into a much broader life context in ways that no other teacher I’ve been exposed to has come even close to doing. As Jay aptly stated “interesting people take interesting pictures”. By extension one’s life experience and ongoing personal growth within and outside of photography (art, literature, music etc.) has a direct correlation to the quality of one’s creative output.

At the risk of generalizing, I believe that some very accomplished photographers, who also hold workshops, often emphasize their own personal vision/work and focus almost exclusively on their individual view of the world. There is nothing inherently wrong with this approach, but it does seem to miss the point of fully taping into the individual creativity of others, in this case that of workshop participants.

Jay is the personification of a “teacher” in the purest sense of the word. He studiously avoids being too literal in describing his personal creative process, but rather uses his life experience, story telling, humor, great quotes and wisdom to help others connect with their own personal priorities and creativity. To further illustrate his points Jay goes far beyond his prolific body of work and relies just as heavily on the work and learning’s of others.

Jay is a true New Yorker, one who instinctively knows when not to sugarcoat his feedback. On the other hand his at times blunt delivery (which he unapologetically cultivates…), does nothing to obscure the fact that he deeply cares about achieving results for every participant who’s willing to put in the time and effort to grow. Jay clearly relishes helping others discover and connect with their personal goals and creative vision.

No feedback would be complete without a comment about our workshop group, Jay’s team and his family. Clearly one has little control over the group makeup in any given workshop. Maybe it has to do with the type of people who are attracted to such an immersive experience, but I can honestly say that I feel very fortunate to have spent a week with what was a very diverse, interesting and mutually supportive group. I learned something from each and every participant. The process of exchanging ideas and learning how others see the world around them was a valuable lesson in and of itself. Besides we wouldn’t want Jay to conclude that we couldn’t come up with any “lessons learned” on our own…

Jamie, John and Jay’s family, helped make this a very special workshop and at all times treated us like members of their extended family, be it just for a week. It is an experience I will not soon forget.

Nicholas Tiliacos, Sammamish, WA  

As a novice photographer, I found myself surprised and delighted on so many different levels. The emphasis on the creative process was inspiring. I enjoyed learning about the creative process, especially as it relates to light, color and gesture, and what makes a good photo a good photo; Discussions about the different approaches to street photography were useful; Attending the photo salon and hearing guest speaker (Henry) were interesting and thought-provoking; Friday’s class was amazing; The Bank building is the perfect venue.

Debra Cole, Salt Lake City, UT  

My experience was a series of ups and downs/frustrations as I was clearly out of my comfort zone (intentionally) and I felt punk the whole week. The ups were that I gained a great deal of valuable insight into and knowledge about a whole new way of photographing people – some of this is very specific and some of this is conceptual, which will improve my photography over time. I also learned a great deal from using Jay’s 28-300 mm lens – this opened up a totally different approach to my photography. I also learned a lot just by watching what and how classmates were photographing.

[I gained] a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses as a photographer. The wonderful help and atmosphere that pervades throughout the workshop [...] is a direct result all 3 key players involved – this is the most user friendly photography related “experience” I have had

Wink Willett, Randolph, VT  

The greatest thing about the week was to be let into the mind of a creative genius. There was an aura about the entire experience that you are in the presence of a special mind and that is a very rare opportunity. Specific to photography, the critique sessions provide the most insight into the thought process that goes into a great image.

Overall, while a significant investment, this experience was an incredible value. I had high expectations coming in and was a bit nervous on day 1 if they would be met. By midweek, I was secure in knowing that this was a transformative experience that would grow more valuable in future years. Jay was incredibly generous with his time, knowledge and view of the world. Jamie and John were great. Everything about the week was smooth and very well organized. They took care of everything else, including technical questions, to allow Jay to do what he does best.

It’s also worth mentioning that this workshop is infinitely elastic. The nature of the content is such that it is equally valuable for people of all levels of photography experience. Technical skills will certainly help you render your desired image, but this workshop was more about looking and seeing the world around us in a new way and gaining the tools to effectively transfer that vision into successful images.

John Gillooly, Boston, MA  

I’ve taken a number of workshops and I’ve never walked away with as much change and improvement in my ability to see and capture the images I wanted to capture. This was the best workshop experience that I’ve ever had.

Of the time that we had together each day, which was starting with early morning shooting to finishing dinner together at 10:00pm, we spent less than an hour on F-stops, shutter speeds with the rest of our time together on becoming a better shooter.

Access to Jay, Jamie and John was fabulous, and their help in helping me address issues and problems was excellent, but they always let me figure it out on my own.

Bob Salvin, Charlotte, NC  

What a fantastic week! Long days that I didn’t want to end, suddenly it was Friday and we were having the farewell dinner. Jay is incredible, telling great stories to help convey what he wants you to see. I loved going out and taking photos and having them critiqued by the group later on. Jay made it very easy to feel inspired. The class was run exceptionally smoothly with Jaime and John always around to help.

Kimberly Petts, Atlanta, GA  

When I enrolled in the workshop, I was hoping to gain a clear set of guidelines and principles to follow in my quest to become a better photographer. There is so much advice and information out there and I wanted to gain some clarity and direction. I had heard interviews where Jay spoke about the importance of light, color and gesture in creating powerful images – but having to shoot, edit and show images based on these principles and then have them critiqued by Jay – was without doubt the greatest benefit I got from attending the workshop. Not only do I now understand what I am looking for when I shoot images, but I also know how to edit them effectively.

Also, the few items of technical advise Jay gave made a huge improvement in my shooting effectiveness.

In addition to these specific benefits to my photography, I gained a great deal on a personal level. It was so inspiring to spend time with Jay – to listen to his experiences and observations, to see his work and the way he lives his life, and to just spend time in his warm, generous and amusing company. It was a wonderful privilege and I loved every minute of it!

Kim Low, Melbourne, Australia  

Jay was nice enough to provide feedback, on the first day on one of my pictures, as being “Complete.” I am thankful that I heard him utter that word and it is THAT word that I would apply to this workshop. Prior to my arrival, my expectations were simply to gain a sliver of insight into the true world of seeing and at least get on the road to becoming a better a photographer. With Jay, he took 10 VERY eager photographers and placed us on the road and gently shoved us in the right direction with such care and reverence for photography that we gladly took to that road. I now have the rudimentary tools to look at my photography and try to capture a better picture. For me what I got out of the workshop is a deepened love for photography.

More specifically Jay provided what I was looking for. A mentor who in a very short period of time can provide a large depth of knowledge and infuse his love for his craft into my work. I was happy that it was not about the technical aspect of photography but about the art of photography. I now finally understand what Jay means by light, color and gesture and will spend the rest of my days trying to get that holy trinity into my pictures. I also have to say that the help from Jamie and John is without measure. They are two of the nicest men I have ever met and both very talented and very kind with their time. The group that was put together to work was a pure joy and I will miss them all very much.

The workshop takes you to your limits but in such a way that even when you are tired you still want to get up and do more photography. My appreciation can not be expressed in a few paragraphs here but will be present in the body of work I leave behind someday. From this day forward my pictures will be better because Jay Maisel placed me on that road, pointed me in the right direction and pushed me out there. Thank you Jay, Jamie and John. I look forward to seeing you in an alumni course someday.

George Petropoulos, Longs, SC  

Jay’s workshop revolves around his philosophy of Light, Colour and Gesture being the essential ingredients of every good picture. The workshop explained what he means for each of these three elements and gave me a new way to think about my photography. My goal was to re energise my photography by overcoming the problem of “latent inhibition” and learning to see again. Jay’s working helped me in spades to start this journey and a solid framework for practising this every day after the end of the workshop.

Sydney Low, Melbourne, Australia

March 2011


Jay Maisel runs an elaborate bait and switch operation. He signs you on for what is supposed to be a workshop about Photography, but gives you a workshop about Life. The switch is obvious from Day One, as a weeklong immersion in the craft of photography morphs into an amazing tour d’horizon of how artistic sensibilities and life experience and personal values should shape what you shoot and why. I am an avocational photographer with modest experience. I will never again take a picture that is not somehow informed by what was learned this week. Notice that I do not write “by what was taught”—Jay disarmingly says that he’s not a teacher and that all he does is “to open doors.” And then he does exactly that, challenging you to become more self-aware and self-critical, to be less risk-averse and more willing to learn from failure, and do to some (very hard) work without sacrificing the spirit of fun and discovery that animates the Maisel workshop experience.

And what an extraordinary experience it is! Always mind-stretching—reaching way beyond the world of photography for frames of reference about creativity. Frequently hysterically funny—thanks to Jay’s pitch-perfect comedic style laced with his legendary profanity. Invariably humane— marked by Jay’s respect for the subjects of photographs and his respect for workshop participants without letting them off the hook for their photographs. Genuinely collaborative—Jay manages to stimulate candid exchanges witching a workshop of photographers with diverse skills and interests. All in all, an experience both humbling and enabling—participants one the one hand learn how much they need to learn and, on the other, how better to expand their ambitions in their post-workshop photography.

The week left me with a fresh sense of possibility for my own photography. More open to looking and seeing differently. More willing to take the kinds of shots that I never would have tried previously. More convinced that by slowing down and taking the time to read a situation on my ass and off will pay large dividends. More inclined to regard my next photograph plateau as a milestone and not a stopping point. More determined to probe and alter my own learning style more purposively that I have ever been motivated to do in other workshop environments I’ve been exposed to. While I’m not by nature a “just do it” photographer, I am now ready to say, “OK, I’ve got it” as a result of this indelible and memorable experience.

Larry Fabian, New York, NY  

I did not know what to expect when I signed up for the class. This was the first time I presented unprocessed images daily for critique-ing, I feel that this was integral to the class because it made me take more deliberate images. As Jay says “You are responsible for every square millimeter of the frame,” these were our words to live by.

Jay’s location and surroundings were a perfect place to practice the craft. It is full of character and color and has beautiful light everywhere. The people in the neighborhood were very colorful too and made wonderful subjects for the kind of images we came to do.

Jay is a wealth of knowledge and is very generous with it. His statements were always insightful and left me wanting to hear more all the time. This is the same for Jay’s work which we could view on display in the bank and on the screen daily.

The meals were one of the highlights of the course. The restaurants were very eclectic and all very delicious and were all great choices by Jay. The meals like the images were not taken lightly.

I did enjoy the class thoroughly and would highly recommend the class to anyone. I consider myself fortunate to have found his class and to have met him and his team.

Cheman Yulo, Makati City, Philippines  

A wonderful workshop. Jay is inspiring and I hope I can remain open as I continue taking pictures. Jay’s approach reminds me of my days at RISD with Aaron and Harry and Lisette. In this age of technical jargon, Jay keeps the discussions focused on what is important in photography, never leaving the aesthetics behind. He truly photographs with the eyes of a child, a blessing for me to see. I enjoyed every second of the day. I would not change a thing. His approach is wonderful.

David Reinfield, New York, NY  

What I got out of last week was a chance to experience and learn firsthand the thought processes that go into the type of photography Jay Maisel is known for.
It’s what I came for and it was what I got. [I most enjoyed] the opportunity to have personal work critiqued by Jay Maisel. His criticisms were spot on and worth taking the time to listen to.

Marjorie Amon, Lawrenceville, NJ  

Jay’s workshop was five-day Zen moment for me. With the gruff style of a dervish he shattered any “in your head” approaches to photography and took me on a dance through the city streets forcing me to respond instantly to eye and heart. The camera always at the ready I soon responded more to the slightest glimmer of gesture, light and color. The camera came up, frame filled and the release caught the moment in a blink. The surrender to the moment of was both scary and exhilarating. It was a great meditation. Forced to see more deeply it awaken greater joy in sharing the life around me.

Colby Munger, Crownsville, MD  

There is no question as to the caliber of the man and his passion for the art of Photography. Mr. Maisel is one of the few people I have met in life who is truly a natural and gifted teacher. Taking the time to develop a close interaction with each student and yet still being able to work around and past each person’s bias as it relates to their own photography skills. With 1,000 years of knowledge and the help of his wife and staff, he has compiled a product unsurpassed by most. I say, “Well done!” [I also enjoyed] watching the photographers’ skills progress throughout the week as each person applied what they had learned.

Daniel Lynch, Edmonton, Canada  

I had no idea what to expect before coming to Jays workshop. The workshop exceeded any expectations I might have had! It was an intense week of shooting, listening, absorbing, and gaining new knowledge through the experience and wisdom of a pro of 60 years! In one week, I now ‘see’ in front and behind the camera in a way I never did-with awareness , patience and anticipation. To add to this, the restaurants and food Jay picked for us was some of the best in NYC!

Fran Meckler, San Francisco, CA  

I had the experience of a wonderful, enthusiastic and hugely talented artist sharing his enormous experience and passion for photography in the most personal and generous fashion you could imagine. It was a privilege to feel like part of the family for a week, and I was delighting in sharing Jay’s love of the arts, New York, wonderful food, and overall the good things in life. All this was shared with an unmistakable and strong sense of humor that I am missing already.

It was my objective to understand what makes a great photograph, to learn about my strengths and areas where I could improve, to get pushed outside my comfort zone, to be inspired by Jay and the group, and to have a fun time. I got all of that – and much more than I expected in all categories. I will probably never look at a photograph in quite the same way again. Certainly my criteria’s for whether I like one of my own photographs have changed for good.

And then there was the food…. Do not expect fine dining each lunchtime and every evening, but rather incredibly varied and very well chosen representatives from a wide range of the types of food that New York is offering.

Finally, my review would not be complete without a word of appreciation for Jamie, the Workshop Producer, and John, the Studio Assistant. Your super helpful manner and unflappable attitude made the week feel well organized and flexible without ever losing sight of the schedule and the objectives.

Thank you the three of you and to my fellow students for a week that flew by so fast and that I will never forget. This was a unique workshop and I am privileged to have been part of it.

Per Pedersen, Bottmingen, Switzerland

December 2010


On the first day Jay asked us “Why this workshop?” for which I did not have a specific answer other than I wanted to be pushed out of my comfort zone learning to shoot people and that I had been inspired by seeing his photographs in the past.  Well, I had no idea what I was in for. Jay welcomed us into his studio, home, and life with warmth, genius, and inspiration.  His insight and instruction have encouraged me to move to a new level with my photography.

This week we were all privileged to be able to benefit from the wisdom and skill of one of the world’s best photographers.  Jay’s energy, humor, generosity and superb teaching skills clearly demonstrated his love of the art, of teaching and of life in general.  Through his instruction in the elements of a good photo, his anecdotes, and the viewing of great photographs he skillfully molded us into better photographers.

The workshop was run with what appeared to be seamless efficiency. The flash drives, our pictures on our lunches, the efficient organization of the schedule and meals, and the technical knowledge of  John and Jamie all contributed immensely to this unique experience.

This is not a photo tour of NY, but rather total immersion in world class photography.  Jay was with us, teaching, all day, except when we were out shooting. The assignments focused on people, moving from taking each other’s portraits ( a brilliant assignment designed to get us to feel what it is like to be on the other side of our lenses) to trying to capture interaction between people.  All this while incorporating light, color and gesture.  I truly was pushed out of my comfort zone and learned a great deal from it. The sessions in the “boardroom” during which Jay and the other students critiqued each other’s work were invaluable and often provided insight into my own photographs that I did not have when I shot them.  Getting the opinions and perspective of so many diverse and interesting people was terrific.

An added and unexpected bonus was the chance to meet Ed Kashi, an award winning National Geographic photographer, who gave up his evening to come speak to us on the eve of flying to Germany to accept an award from UNICEF.  We were also treated to an evening at the NY PhotoGroup Salon to see works by several excellent photographers with very different styles.

A review of this workshop would not be complete without mentioning the incredible food.  At every meal we were treated to a different cuisine, all excellent and in beautiful settings.

The days are long, but fly by, and left me wishing the week would never end. The challenge to do one’s best work “in the frame”,  and the intensity of the time spent learning, shooting, critiquing and eating will stay with me for a long time and I will never take another photograph without being reminded of the lessons learned during this extraordinary week.

Sydney Keith, Boulder, CO  

I signed up for the course seeking help in determining a direction for my photographic interest. I had no area of interest to pursue. By the time the course started, I had found one type of photos to pursue. By following Jay’s instructions, being open to new attempts and receiving very helpful and supportive feedback from others in the workshop, an additional area of photographic communiction became apparent. This will now be the center of my photographic work and a project for the next year. Without the workshop, I would not have discovered the approach that I did, one that is uniquely suited to me.

The organization, participation of Jay, John and Jamie, and processes of the workshop gave me the clear sense of dedication of each one of them in helping all the workshop members improve their work and enjoy the process more.

Barry Bates, Powell, OH  

For the price of one, you get a multitude of workshops: the most important is about photography, but you also get a workshop on arts history, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, etc.  Moreover, this is also a workshop about fun. The workshop is designed as a judicious mix of lectures, critique sessions, shooting sessions, lunches and dinners and especially as an open exchange of ideas and concepts. The critique sessions are extremely interesting as they go to the core of the process of photography. They really give an opportunity to improve yourself as a photographer.

Jozef Lievens, Kortrijk, Belgium  

It was great to view the other attendees pictures and hear the process they went through to find and take the pictures.  Same for Jay’s pictures. Seeing Jay’s eclectic home was a unique experience.  I dare say there is nothing like it in the entire world. It was great to meet Jay’s team and the other attendees and getting to know them a bit during the sessions and meals that featured absolutely great food.

Dale Byrne, Reno, NV  

Wow…. I can honestly say that this week changed who I am in the best of ways.  What an amazing experience to be able to see through Jay’s eyes and then, in such a short period of time, begin to ‘see’ for myself.  It will, obviously, take time and experience to get where I want to be but I already see a difference in the way I see my work, both when I am deciding whether or not to press the shutter and when I am editing a shoot.  I am already much better at weeding out photos that do not portray the intention I was going for, that do not have a climax, that do not move me.  I could go on and on but, the short version is, that this workshop is worth any sacrifice it took for me to be there and, if blessed with the opportunity, I will attend it again in the future.  I know I would learn even more.  Thank you, Jay, Jamie, and John for all that you do to make this workshop the amazing experience that it is.  Completely awesome.  Thank you.

This was a life-changing experience that I will always cherish.  I sincerely hope to attend any/all alumni workshops and look forward to studying more with Jay in the future.

Shari Bradbury, Bainbridge Island, WA  

[I enjoyed] the shooting in the morning and afternoon, followed by Jay’s critiques. The community we established after shooting and while editing was really remarkable. The give and take between the students was invaluable; I felt comfortable with my colleagues and Jay immediately. Overall, this was a magnificent experience. I loved just being around Jay and his weird and profane sense of humor, and his marvellous photographs. Jamie and John were wonderful and very helpful.

Martin Durtschi, Ketchum, ID  

The week is an invitation from Jay himself into his world as a photographer foremost, but also as a person, artist, motivator and everyday guy who is passionate about who he is and what he does. [I enjoyed] experiencing a week of ‘life’ with a group of people who each have their own story to tell and sharing it with them through the medium of photography.

Karrie Daly, Edmonton, Canada

November 2010


Thanks for your efforts! The workshop was the time of my life!

[I enjoyed] Jay’s personal consideration and criticism of our work, while keeping our individual styles in mind. Many useful tips on camera settings and usage. Most helpful to me was learning to roll my finger over the shutter release. Everyone should learn this when they first pick up the camera! Exploring and falling in love with NYC. Feeling so comfortable and welcome in Jay’s unique home. Viewing just a portion of Jay’s huge body of work. The relaxed, open, informal atmosphere. I felt immediately like I was with old friends.

The week was over far sooner than I’d wished. Just as I was starting to understand, to see clearer, to examine my photos BEFORE I take them, I was back on my own. But, Jay has set the wheels in motion. When I bring the camera to my eye now, I’m more aware of what’s in my frame and what I’m trying to convey. In the days following the workshop, more and more of what was discussed, seen and shared continues to sink in.

Jay says he’s embarrassed, and his family’s annoyed when people say ‘You changed my life, man.’ So let me just say, your life and your photos will never be the same after Jay…and that’s a good thing!

And the food…oh, my God! The food!

Ken Bratz, Portland, OR  

Being able to spend a week immersed in photography, with Jay in NY, was terrific. It certainly has changed my thinking and viewpoint on the craft and art, with the alternate approaches and views from Schatz, Morrell and Michals contrasting and strengthening Jay’s messages.

The reinforcement of watching everything in the frame, and shooting rather than fixing later was very useful in practice.

Sam Sangster, South Yarra, Australia  

Incredibly hard to explain. Probably the atmosphere which required being there, not only in body but completely there and using all senses. Being surrounded with ever changing pictures, books, discussion without someone talking down to me. Not only teaching me but valuing my feedback as well. And since this was all created by Jay, Jay. (Couldn’t have happened without Jaime and John!)

Elaine Resnick, Tuscon, AZ  

I had a great time. I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere that Jay, Jamie and John provided. Yet all of the staff stayed very goal oriented and brought us students back to focus when there were distractions or when we were not on time. It was a treat to see all the items in the building and to be with Jay’s family. The demonstration of the large prints was outstanding. I learned a lot from the continuing specific critiques of our photographs and this is the thing that provided the greatest benefit to me, if I would have to pick a single item form the workshop. Overall, providing a change in the mindset regarding the focus on photography is an achievement that I appreciate. This is something that is hard to accomplish and I have not had this experience anywhere else.

Dietmar Haenchen, Ann Arbor, MI  

Before starting the workshop I thought to myself “Wow, 9 a.m. until 10 p.m.—that’s a long day.” Looking back, I honestly wish we started at 7 a.m. and went till midnight. It was that enjoyable to me on every level. I say that to let you know that I would have easily spent more time each day learning from Jay, but I realize that it’s impractical to make the days longer.

I think it was the best produced workshop I’ve attended. Jamie did an amazing job in preparation and keeping everyone on track. John is a great team member and brings great knowledge as well. Of course, I can’t think of anyone that could be better than Jay.

I enjoyed everything from my walk from 35th street to Jay’s place and shooting along the way, the neighborhood, the food, the fellow attendees, Jay’s team of Jamie and John, experiencing the history that Jay brings along and most of all, Jay himself. The cost to attend certainly isn’t a small investment for most, but it will continue to give me a return for the rest of my life. I left the workshop a changed photographer and a changed person.

Zan Turvey, Sullivan's Island, SC  

Five days in New York with Jay Maisel is like a year in any other place. It’s impossible to pick one highlight of attending a Jay Maisel workshop, from the salon-style evening that was organized with the incomparable Duane Michals to hearing the superbly talented Abelardo Morell speak; from the pithy critiques from Jay, to personal shooting time spent reveling in the sights and sounds of this wonderful city; it was a week to remember. Not only did I come away with some wonderful photos but more than that I now have a clearer idea as to where I want to go as a photographer and how I might start the journey towards that goal.

Helen Bradley, Cotati, CA  

Thanks for all these notes, photos, emails, and a great, inspiration al week. [I enjoyed] getting to know Jay and his work and learning to think about how to frame your shot in the lens and learning to be more aware of color, light and gesture. I liked the interaction of the group and learning what is good and bad through the photo presentations and critique.

Bonnie Englebardt, New York, NY  

I completely enjoyed the week and every aspect of it. What resonated most was Jay’s generosity of spirit and my ability to get the cropping-in-camera idea as critical in terms of images and time saving. Gesture, light and color have new meaning as does patience in a spot with a great background. Started looking in my neighborhood for opportunities…

Marjorie Neu, New York, NY

October 2010


I have been looking forward to taking this workshop for nearly a year now and it definitely exceeded my expectations. Jay is both an amazing photographer and an amazing person and it’s easy to feel inspired and even enlightened when viewing his work and listening to him speak. It’s invaluable having Jay and the other students critique your work – it’s an ideal opportunity to receive useful, critical views of how others see your work and to learn why an image may or may not communicate what you had seen. Every detail of the workshop has been carefully considered and Jay, Jamie and John work hard to make sure that this is a memorable experience for each student. For example, each restaurant that we visited for lunch / dinner was great (some hard-to-get-into ones as well) and allowed us to enjoy a wide variety of cuisines while spending time with Jay and the group. The guest speakers are another added bonus and I enjoyed getting to meet David Burnett and Seth Resnick. The days are long, but perfect in the sense that nearly every waking moment during the week can be devoted to photography. Undoubtedly, each student learned and grew because of this unique experience – I highly recommend it to any photographer!

Scot Sargeant, San Diego, CA  

On the first day Jay asked what we hoped to get out of the week, and I remember saying something like ‘I want to raise my game, so I guess I’m looking for inspiration and information,’ and I sure got plenty of both. Seeing substantial amounts of Jay’s work, old and new, took care of the lion’s share of the inspiration along with the example that Jay set every day of very much practicing exactly what he preaches, and taking great delight in it as well. Hearing of and seeing Jay’s process makes it very reassuring to learn that this work is NOT ‘magic’ or so-called ‘inborn talent,’ rather it’s the daily application of sound principles that can be learned, and I now have Jay’s words of wisdom firmly installed in my brain, ‘nudging’ me when appropriate to look out for this, exclude that, ‘move your ass,’ really look, and pay close attention to every part of the frame, among many other great bits of advice. Add in the great food, great conversations, guest speakers, the fascinating tours of Jay’s amazing building, and the fun of the whole week, and it was photographic ‘hog heaven’ for me.

Bob Casner, Venice, CA  

When I first considered attending one of Jay’s workshops, I thought the tuition fee was pretty hefty. After taking his workshop, the fee seems more than reasonable to me – almost a bargain! Jay put his all into providing a great learning experience for attendees. He was so totally available during the entire workshop and that sharing of himself and his great wealth of experience and knowledge was what really set this workshop apart from many others. I really grew as a photographer during the week. P.S. Yes, the food is really good as well.

Herb Fixler, New York, NY  

I told my wife before I left for the Workshop that I would probably return and never shoot a picture the same way as before the Workshop. Boy was I right! What an experience. I got exactly what I wanted- the opportunity to spend many hours with a “master”- to get inside Jay’s mind and to understand what he “sees” when he creates a photo. Not necessarily the technical stuff – but other things such as light, gesture, and color. Especially gesture- took me awhile to grasp the concept- but boy do I see gesture now. Enough said.

Chris Grady, Seattle, WA  

Total immersion in photography. By the middle of the first day, I had forgotten all the stresses of my ‘normal’ job, and was completely focused on learning and pushing myself. Jay is insightful, instructive, and entertaining, and being welcomed into his office, home, and life was special and added to the experience. I gained a lot of knowledge during this workshop, and walked away inspired to take my photography to the next level. I also enjoyed the smoothness in which the workshop was run. Having organized large conferences in the past, I know how much work all the little details take. It’s easy not to notice it when everything goes well, but that doesn’t happen by accident. From providing flash drives to taping our pictures on our lunch orders, all of these extra touches made the week run smoothly and allowed us to maximize our time. Going into this workshop, I knew that I would be pushed outside of my comfort area. I knew that I would be immersed in great photography and discussion. I knew that I would walk away with a different perspective in photography, with a full stomach, an expanded mind, and – let’s be honest — a serious deficit of sleep. All of that came true. The sleep I can catch up on, but it won’t be possible to shake off the newfound insight. Every time I snap a photo, I will be reminded of lessons learned during this week. It also occurred to me that the ingredients that make for a successful photo – so effectively conveyed by Jay through instruction, anecdotes, and an exploration of great photographic works – can also contribute to a great written story, a great web page design, or a great software user interface. While the focus of the workshop was photography, in many ways it could be generalized to seeing the world in multiple dimensions and sharing that view effectively with a reader, viewer, or listener. I plan to apply the principles I learned not only to my photography, but to the software I design in my ‘real world’ job.

The workshop takes a large commitment of time and money. But it’s a small investment to make for the chance to spend a week completely immersed in photography, benefiting from the wisdom, humor, and effective teaching of one of the world’s best photographers and artists and interacting with fellow students. This investment will pay dividends for the rest of my life. Credit also goes to Jamie and John, who focused on all the little seen and unseen details of keeping the workshop running smoothly and maximizing our time.

M. Scott Smith, Odenton, MD  

This course provided me with a new mindset to go out and shoot, I learned so much regarding the whole approach to photography. The emphasis was definitely on the artistic side, and my images won’t be the same as before. Jay is a charismatic teacher who doesn’t hold anything back, making every effort to turn you into a better photographer. The course was perfectly organized providing everything we needed, and the selection of restaurants was outstanding, making this not only a very rewarding, but also fun experience.

Peter Boehi, Altstaetten, Switzerland  

As Jay says on the web site, the workshop is a living thing that responds to the workshop participants. I was apprehensive about the experience, and a little intimidated by the thought of meeting Jay, having him critique my work and shooting in the streets of New York. Though I love looking at street photography, I have always been hesitant to approach strangers. I took the workshop to force myself out of my comfort zone. The week surpassed my expectations. I thoroughly enjoyed Jay and his honest, blunt, but caring assessment of our work. Taking his encouragement to heart, I developed at least some comfort in approaching people on the street, and was rewarded with success. No one that I approached refused my request, and once I explained why I wanted to photograph them, most actually seemed to enjoy the experience. Jay clearly enjoys life and his love of photography and teaching was contagious. Jamie and John added technical knowledge and helped to make the week fun. The food was great, too.

Having taken quite a few photography workshops, this is the first that has been totally devoted to the art of photography. Most are tours, rather than workshops. The instructors get a free vacation at the expense of the participants, and spend very little time teaching. This workshop is all about teaching, and except for a couple hours shooting in the afternoon, Jay was with us teaching the entire time. The days are long, but inspiring. I would highly recommend this workshop to anyone wanting to improve his or her photography and have a great week in New York.

Woody Stone, Hendersonville, NC  

I enjoyed being challenged and pushed to do my best work. I loved focusing on shooting, rather than post production. I appreciated the honest feedback. I learned a lot from other students. I loved being immersed in incredible imagery. I certainly grew as a photographer, and a creative person. My eyes were opened. Thank You.

Lisa Williams, Ross, CA  

Jay’s workshop was an experience that I’ll never forget. From day one I was challenged to walk outside my comfort zone – something that I’ll always appreciate. The learning environment and honest critique helped me propel my photography to a whole new level. Jay has forever changed the way I see and think about my photography. It was worth selling my motorcycle for.

Christian Anderson, Anchorage, AK

September 2010


In Jay’s words – I probably won’t know what I got out of this week until some time afterwards. I think that sums up how the intensity of the time spent eating, shooting, critiquing, learning, eating, shooting again is just too much for you to assimilate all at once. That is the beauty of it. The time with Jay in NYC has given me the confidence and patience to shoot and find out.

Dahlia Verjee, London, United Kingdom  

This was not just any ordinary workshop – it was a unique and magical journey. I had decided beforehand that the best preparation I could do for Jay’s workshop was to go in as open-minded as possible, ready for anything, with no expectations – brain drained and unencumbered with any other thoughts or problems.

Jay shared everything in his remarkable world: collections of his photographs and the stories behind them, his experiences & anecdotes (including lessons learned); philosophies and sayings of people ranging from a gamut of fields, books, art, his family, all of which continue to influence and shape him as a photographer and a person; his spectacular, historical building filled with his galleries, workshops and laboratories of personal collections of tools, objects and materials, projects in process including other art forms, and of course “the vault”. It was an intimate experience; Jay opened up his home, his heart and his life. We met his family and our small group dined together in Jay’s secret gastronomic hideaways in NYC. We were immersed in his world in every way, every day.

Nancy Leigh, New York, NY  

If you love photography this is the experience for you. A relaxed week where I was surrounded by knowledge, enthusiasm, a supportive, friendly environment, delightful visions, good food, and an absence of B.S. I left with a different attitude about what photography is, thanks to Jay’s generously shared wisdom and experience. Getting to know the other photographers was also a special treat.

Lee Schilling, Fresno, CA  

It was a great week. Got me back on track which is what I was looking for. It exceeded expectations. I didn’t expect to go to so many great restaurants.

Allison Morgan, Savannah, GA  

The workshop enabled me to see light differently, capture gesture and understand how color can make a simple picture very strong.

Joe Amodei, Wilmington, DE  

Enjoyed most the variety of personalities – people and photos, and second but not least Jay’s insights. Thank you for a fabulous week! Made me want to return to New York soon.

Gail von Bergen-Ryan, London, United Kingdom  

Before the course I would rather have stood naked in a shop window for a day than take pictures of people in the street, by mid-week I was shooting strangers in the street, and by the end of the week I was even asking people for a picture, which for me is quite remarkable.

Jay is one of life’s inspirational people, he has the x factor that only a select few are born with and spending a week in the company of him was something I will cherish forever. Already I know I have significantly improved as a photographer and can only get better as I constantly review everything he taught me and told me during those five hectic days that went by far too fast.

If you’re going to do one workshop then this is the one to do. Learning about light, gesture, and color – and the quality of my images rather than the quality of my pixels is a lesson I will never forget.

Greg Owen, Lathom, United Kingdom  

I was inspired and energized by Jay’s passion, honesty and sense of humor. Even apart from his amazing body of work, this sheer enthusiasm justified my decision to take his course.

Leon Berger, Westount, Canada  

I gained tremendous insight from Jay as to what makes a good image – whether based on light, gesture, or color. And I will retain a very thoroughly imprinted assessment question. Jay’s enthusiasm is unbounded. And contagious.

John Hindmarsh, Bangkok, Thailand

June 2010


Words may not be able to express what we learned about the wonder of Light, Gesture, and Color, but certainly fall short of trying to capture the essence of this memorable experience with Jay. Not only does he share his wisdom, knowledge, and love of photography and art, but opens his home, heart, and family along the way. For me, the week was about seeing the moment around you …through your camera…and thus seeing more clearly without it… Capturing moments of unexpected, yet often poignant beauty…slowing down, watching life…perhaps even living more fully awake. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for this remarkable and calorically dense…delicious experience!

Holly Heine, San Juan Capistrano, CA  

‘Jay Maisel: The Real McCoy’ (trite but I cannot think of a better way to portray it at this moment) – I had absolutely no idea of my final takeaway of Jay Maisel when I entered this workshop. Jay’s vitality, energy, vibrancy, and cutting edge are remarkable. Truly a Renaissance man in his visually acute mind as demonstrated in his photographs and workshop. A man of well read and written words.

Jim McKinney, Evansville, IN  

I just loved the whole experience of eating, sleeping, and talking photography. I was in my element! I was nervous about the critiques from Jay, as a result of reading the testimonials, but at heart he is really just a big teddy bear! The format of looking and critiquing our own student work and Jay’s critique’s were a fabulous way to learn. I feel I now know what I have to do to improve my “looking and seeing”, and to take better photographs. Jay’s assistants were available to help with any technical questions I had and I so appreciate their willingness and time.

Anne Launcelott, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada  

Being basically an amateur photographer, I signed up for the workshop with great trepidation. I was afraid I was going to to be “out of my league” in many ways. Jay has structured a learning experience that is rich and rewarding for everyone who is open to growth, no matter your experience. Besides having the opportunity to see the work of a brilliant photographer, I feel like I was also able to get a peek inside his mind, and hear directly from him what goes on when he decides to take a picture, and how he looks at the picture afterwards. Jay is a philosopher, and artist, a comedian, a generous, down to earth, feeling person, a critic and so much more all rolled into one. I feel privileged that I was able to partake in this bounty. I know that with the guidance and criticism that I received this past week, I gained much in my effort to be a better photographer. I will never look through the viewfinder the same way, and most importantly for me is that I can now be a critic of my own work in ways I did not understand before. I also cannot understate the value of having other people in the workshop. We developed a strong comraderie very quickly and I certainly learned much through their work and analysis too. Every moment during this very full week was valuable for me in helping me become a better photographer.

Ken Kurzwell, Bedford, NY  

I signed up for Jay’s workshop because I wanted a workshop experience that was about creativity and art, not synch speed and f-stops. I got so much more. Also, while I love to shoot people, I hate to ask permission. It’s been kind of a stumbling block. I was hoping to overcome that anxiety and to improve my work in general.

I have heard Jay speak prior to the workshop and I was familiar with his Holy Trinity of image making—Light, Color and Gesture—but after a week, I find myself truly impacted by the concepts. I look differently, I see differently and I’m taking different pictures than I did the week before. I’m more patient and more willing to wait for the right moment to hit the shutter. My pictures are exponentially better than the week before. I even got a bit more comfortable asking a stranger for permission to take a picture. Turns out, New York City is the best place in the world to approach strangers. Jay’s workshop has impacted my photography more than any other I’ve taken.

Michelle Geoga, Hinsdale, IL  

It’s been a challenging week for me. The workshop changed the way I look at my camera. I used to focus on image quality a lot more than on quality of the content. I think that has changed for good and a lot of my gear that I used to consider essential might have become obsolete. Jay really is the most passionate teacher I ever experienced. Being close to such a unique personality was really an amazing experience. I would recommend everyone who is passionate about photography to attend his class. I not only learned a lot about photography, but also what it’s like to be passionate about the things you do in life.

René Kissinger, Mainz, Germany

May 2010


There is a wonderful feeling of generosity and availability that comes from the way the week is set up. I appreciated the honest critiques, they were confirming and helpful. The experience of being in the great old bank building, of listening to Jay’s ideas, his philosophy of life told with humor, and the opportunity to look at his work of more than 50 years as a photographer was amazing. I have taken many workshops, but none of the others can match the flawless organization, the helpful, considerate and infinitely patient staff. When I returned home I immediately recommended this workshop to my son who is very interested in photography. “There is no other experience like it”, I told him. It will change your life.

Kelsey Mason, Oakville, Ontario, Canada  

This workshop was quite an experience for me. In it I was able to overcome my fear of photographing strangers. The experience was both exhilarating and exhausting simultaneously. Jay provided me with new tips that no one else had previously suggested to me that were extremely valuable.

Bill Broder, Los Angeles, CA  

The week with Jay was an amazing, inspiring, filling (both photographic and food-wise!) and rejuvenating experience. He opens his wonderful home to a group of strangers, shares his honest and thoughtful wisdom – all while generally being a great guy and wonderful teacher. This class certainly ISN’T about cameras, lenses and technology. It taught (and reminded) me of what is truly important to a great image and I feel my ability to actually ‘see’ grew by leaps and bounds over the week. Come to the class with an open mind and willingness to learn and you will walk away being glad you did it.

Steven Black, London, UK  

Part of describing what the workshop is, is describing what it’s not – it is not a techie fest; it is not a warm, fuzzy, ‘let me tell you what a great photographer you are’ week. It is a mental and physical challenge. It is a study in what makes a good photograph and the questions to ask yourself in order to create good photographs. The workshop is a group dynamic where you learn from other participants as well as Jay, while you are working on your own personal vision. For me it helped to have a goal in mind. Jay does ask at the beginning what you’re hoping to get out of the workshop. If you don’t tell him, he won’t be able to help you get there.

Deborah Kirsner, Edmonds, WA  

I really loved the workshop. Jay was really delightful to be with. It is always great to meet new people, each with their own story and talents. The space we worked in is iconic and thus added to the experience. Jay has a unique manner of sharing his wisdom. I appreciated his honesty, his critical eye and his philosophy of photography. It is life enhancing in some sense, life changing. You really come away learning to treasure being able to capture the moment.

Shelli Broder, Los Angeles, CA  

My week at the Bank far surpassed any expectations I had before attending. Jay is a patient, knowledgeable and passionate teacher who loves to share his work as much as he loves to create it. Although he shared a great deal of his work and process with us, this workshop isn’t about learning to imitate Jay’s technique. Instead, Jay gave us tools to use and thoughts to motivate us and sent us out into the world to discover our own way.

For me, there was no single moment of great revelation, but rather a steady realization that I was finally beginning to “see” the things around me. Although I have spent a lifetime looking at my surroundings, Jay showed me how to really see the extraordinary in the commonplace. Through Jay’s gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) prodding to find the “gesture” in every subject, I was able to create photographs that were more meaningful and interesting. This week was a threshold in my photography that now crossed, would be impossible to forget.

Ron Hickey, New York, NY  

I can’t imagine that anybody – irrespective of skill level – could leave this workshop without knowing loads more about how to take a photograph than they did at the beginning of the week. The 5 days you spend with Jay are transformative, energizing, and simply inspiring in terms of content, execution, and knowledge imparted – the latter being about life in general, and not only photography. While there is obviously no doubting Jay’s talent and skill as a photographer, the workshop is not simply about learning to take better photographs on a practical level. It’s Jay’s amazing personality, warmth, and complete willingness to open himself and his world up to you that makes this workshop a magical experience – and one that I suspect would be impossible for anyone else to duplicate. Thank you all for an absolutely wonderful week – I’m already looking forward to coming back for another.

Pia Vaccha, Amsterdam, Netherlands  

There’s a lot I could say. I made this note to myself midweek and I think it sums up my most important impression: Jay not only helped me see, he inspired me to want to see.

Mark Nachmias, Moorestown, NJ

April 2010


It was a practical class on how to take a worthwhile photo, rather than how to use supplemental equipment or an editing program. The lectures presented theory, and the shooting practice, and critiques helped me see light gesture and color around me, and encouraged me to compose more carefully in camera. I think I’ll be more likely to carry a camera at all times, and more open to photos around me. (We also ate very well…)

Janet Wamsley, Arlington, VA  

Being the least experienced member of the workshop had its advantages. I didn’t have a comfort zone I had to move out of; I had an ignorance zone that I was anxious to leave. I found Jay’s critiques masterful: honest, firm, straightforward, and constructive, with information I could take out the door and try to incorporate into that day’s shoot. Positive comments were there, also. I know that it was a real stretch for him to find something positive to say about my work, but he managed to do it and I appreciated his sensitivity.

The workshop flowed smoothly in a way that appeared effortless, but never could have happened without superb organization in the background. We didn’t have to concentrate on anything but the task at hand—learning to be better photographers. Who could have guessed that a thirteen-hour day would speed by so quickly? I told Jay that he certainly knew how to run a class workshop. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Dianna Barrett, Grand Rapids, MI  

Participating in Jayʼs workshop is a rare opportunity to not only focus on getting control of your image while you are shooting but be critiqued on how well you carry it out. Jay teaches the art of visual awareness. He focuses on making you conscious of what is in your frame. This is not a course for people who shoot everything and anything with the intention of doctoring it all in Photoshop.

Gayle Winn, Summit, NJ  

Jay’s love of the visual and his ability to communicate this to me both verbally and through his photos have given me a tremendous personal confidence boost. My aspirations have moved to a much higher level. His teaching has shown me that individual excellence is not only possible, but may indeed be personally achievable. I now know what directions to follow to make my photos the way I want them to be, and love photography more than ever.

David Duffin, DeWinton, Alberta, Canada  

The workshop was a unique and fantastic experience. Jay’s open, thoughtful, honest and focused commentary and feedback combined with his casual and relaxed presence set the tone for a week of interaction that would have been hard to find anywhere else. He brought us into his life, and shared with us his values, perceptions and practices asking only that we try some of his suggestions for the week to see if they made a difference. And, they did in many simple yet significant ways.

Paul Murray, Jamestown, RI  

Jayʼs advice to come well rested was fitting. Spending 5 more than full days learning from him, experiencing his work, practicing, and receiving his critique was amazing. His mansion studio drew me in warmly, and then became a comfortable, safe place to taste a lifetime of compelling art. Deeply experiencing the very heart and soul of a working photographerʼs world changed my relationship to my photography, and rebooted my life in some ways.

Wood, steel, terrazzo, stained glass … everything with the patina of years of experience, the soul of the studio made it easy to let my guard down, and really hear what he had to say. In this place, anything but Jayʼs complete honesty would feel wrong. I LOVED it when, presented with one of my images from the day before, he said “Ok … now youʼre just yanking my chain”. He always seemed to know exactly how to be hard, compassionate, and humorous, and his love of the art form shows through. Breaking bread with my class and our teacher was an important, and obviously well considered aspect of the week. The places we experienced were beautiful not only for their menus, but for their light and vibe also. These times were a chance to absorb a part of lower Manhattan history and culture in a way rarely experienced by so many visitors. Jay and his team made me feel like this was my home. Each of them shared their knowledge
and experience generously and genuinely. I will never forget.

Michael Reinhart, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada  

It’s a long 23-hour journey from Singapore just to attend a 5-day workshop with someone called Jay Maisel, whom I’d never even heard much of until 2009 – I thought it must be madness…. but after finishing the 5 days, I wish I’d attended his workshop 5 years ago. The most important thing in the workshop interactions was how to think about what you’re looking at through the lens. I can now recognize the ‘cornerstones’ placed before us about our photography – I came out more confident about myself behind that lens. It’s also a privilege to come up face to face with a legendary and accomplished artist like Jay.

Gul Chotrani, Sinapore  

Attending a Jay Maisel workshop can best be described as a solid week of non-stop attention to detail. It’s not about how much equipment you have, or if you have the latest and greatest of everything. It’s about what you do with what you’ve got. It’s about getting away from what you typically do when you “take pictures”, and redirects you to “try something that you haven’t done before”. It’s not about going to Antarctica to take pictures in a place that most people in the world will never see. It’s about seeing things around you that you’ve never seen before…perhaps because you weren’t looking, or because you just weren’t paying attention. Jay makes you “pay attention”, and that makes you a better photographer… I had a terrific time and appreciate all the help, guidance and honest feedback I was given.

George Blankenship, Foster City, CA  

To really get up to people and take pictures – this opened me up to others, caused me to look for compelling light or shadow, interesting compositions, on people and their circumstances.

Michael Richards, New York, NY

November 2009


His critiques are based on what is in front of him, not on a set of prejudices or dogma and therefore he is able to see the gap between what is and what could be and push one across the abyss. He does it with humor but there is always a push. Great stories. Insightful stories.

I wanted a challenge. I expected a difficult, uncomfortable week, outside my zone, but I wanted to come away working in colour. Well, I got all that and more. In addition to the ‘hard’ techniques passed on (very concrete, very applicable, very essential), he lifted away a piece of my conditioning, peeled it back and said, “See? It’s already in there, man.” He did this through question, exploration, and example. My life partner, the beautiful Ursula, also a photographer, is excited about the “shift” in my pictures and she says that I’m in a “better state of heart”. Don’t misunderstand me, Jay didn’t shine me or anyone else on – there isn’t any sunshine being blown anywhere here – he was rigorous. He helped me find a new set of eyes. Not his eyes, either. More like a new, expanded capacity for seeing with the eyes my mother gave me. In colour.

The week was a singularly transformative experience. Brilliant. Worth exponentially more than what you’ll pay if you put in the work. Beyond educational. This was inspiring.

Oh, New York City’s not a bad place to shoot either.

Shane Adams, Toronto, Canada  

I really appreciated the direct feedback from Jay and the group on my photos, I now have a much more critical eye of the entire frame. And of course the food, it was fantastic. The 1×1 conversations with Jay were also fantastic. Being immersed into Jay’s world for a week was incredible. The guest lectures were also very inspiring. The week resulted in a shift for me, both personally and professionally. It brought back my love and appreciation for all art, not just photography. I learned many new “skills” but more important was a new way of being, a new way of seeing the frame. This shift has been noticed by my family and friends when I returned home. “Art is about doing” has really stuck with me, thanks so much.

John Hall, San Jose, CA  

It is difficult to express what Jay’s workshop is about- it is about photography, but it is also about much more. Jay loves life, and makes yours better just by being near him for a while. I photograph sports and birds, not much into people shooting. I look at crowds and people differently now. I see more- the expressions, the interactions, the gestures. Did it make me a better photographer? I think so, but I will not know for sure for 6 months or so. Would I do it again- YES. I hope I have the chance.

Gary Chappel, Winter Haven, FL  

This class was transformative in many ways and I enjoyed everything. The complete and relentless immersion in photography altered my state of mind in the way that I think and live. Since the workshop with Jay, all of my thoughts have continued to be laced with photography in some way. My every sense has been heightened with an awareness of how my camera can convey what I see, feel, touch, smell and taste. It is overwhelming and exciting at the same time. I continue to digest what was shared in those 5 action-packed, all consuming days and evenings. Jay’s studio, the lectures, the endless quotations, the space, the critique sessions, the exposure to the best, the intensity, the food – it was over the top and is one of the best gifts I have ever received in my life… I am lucky.

Liz Hale, Kentfield, CA  

I developed my ability to see and sense the world around me at an astonishing pace during this mind-boggling week. Jay facilitated the workshop brilliantly by providing a wholesome diet comprising equal measures of inspiration, challenge and unambiguous critique. I enjoyed the total immersion format, with participants sharing all meals from breakfast to dinner. This bonded the group and created a unique learning environment, which allowed me to develop faster and further than I could ever do alone. Jay elegantly managed to get the whole group to participate actively in the critique sessions and the total amount of engaged and useful feedback I received during this week was beyond anything I have ever experienced before. I constantly stumble upon something I haven’t really seen before and, as Jay made me aware, having a camera with me just makes it so much easier to photograph it.

Morten Mikkelsen, Leighton Buzzard Bucks, UK  

I really felt welcome at Jay’s place – I left with a warm feeling about the whole week and that was due both to Jay and Jamie’s relaxed and friendly approach to learning and working and also to the cooperative vibe brought by the other participants. I became more discerning about my own work. I improved as a photographer and was well fed in the process. It was a good week.

Brian Scott, Brooklyn, NY  

I wasn’t sure what to expect upon arriving at the bank that first day of class. What I found was a warm, welcoming environment, a great teacher, a well-oiled machine and eight other people who share my absolute love for the beautiful world of photography. All in all, this was the best weeklong experience of my life. What an honor and experience to hang out with and learn from one of the world’s best photographers and also other great photographers to whom he introduced us. Jay makes himself transparent as a teacher and a photographer while showing us through his own example to open up and see the world through a child’s eye is a priceless experience. I would recommend this week to anyone who truly loves photography and wants to better themselves as a photographer.

Stephanie Tomey, Charlotte, NC  

‘Jay is God,’ I heard someone say. Actually, Jay is more interesting. Jay’s photographs are in some sense a transparency of who he is. His 79 year-old mind is restless to find patterns in light, objects, color and always, always gesture. Jay teaches to strive for clarity of thought and intention in our images and by inference our lives. Your images must interest and impress you first and foremost. The judgment of others is less important. He teaches by aphorisms and small vignettes. He teaches as he, and the rest of class gently critique your and his images. No, Jay is not God, he is a mensch.

Mark Franklin, Manlius, NY

October 2009


The bank [Jay’s building] with all of its’ legend and lore; and the non-stop, never ending exhortation to shoot, shoot, shoot. Shoot without thought to aftermath or consequence; shoot life, unfettered, in a place that fairly bristles with it; shoot and show and take the lessons of that showing immediately back on the street with you and shoot again. That is Jay’s commandment. Go out there and be filled up. Get your eyes out of the computer and in the camera, for that is where the muscle and bone of photography really is. I re-connected with very simple picture taking during the workshop. The reverb for me? I will once again start carrying a camera—all the time.

Joe McNally, New York, NY  

Beyond the thorough workshop schedule, Jay offered candid insights from 50 years of living and breathing pro photography. The mix of the two has shaped and advanced my photographic mind more than I ever expected. Fear, exhilaration, terror, realization, self-doubt, insight and triumph were the emotions i felt every single day – it was great.

Hugo Sharp, Sydney, Australia  

What can I say that others haven’t already? Jay makes you feel welcome instantly and just hanging out with him, his wealth of skill, anecdotes, and attitude towards life are inspiring. It’s a complete, immersive, mind-altering, luxurious experience that will make anybody a better photographer. Make no mistake, you will work for it, Jay will push you, but you’ll love every minute.

Martin Chung, Richmond B.C., Canada  

A couple of my friends asked me what the workshop was like. My answer was, and still is: challenging, inspirational and transformational. Jay’s ability to shape performance puts most other teachers I’ve experienced to shame. The well-planned and executed delivery of his philosophy mixed with examples of his work provided the guidance each of us needed to step up our game and become better photographers. Guest speakers peppered the week with great images, stories and their own unique perspective. The shoot and critique sessions were filled with constructive criticism and plenty of examples of how the shot could have been improved…just what each of us needed to make changes in how we approached and captured images. By Friday, we could all see a significant improvement in our work.

Christine Johnson, Playa Del Rey, CA  

Jay may be one of the most important colour photographers in American history but he has another (possibly greater) gift – the ability to teach. My own photography changed beyond recognition. Rather than spending a couple of thousand dollars on a new camera lens or body, if you really want to be a better photographer sign up for this course. It will change how you view and take photographs forever. It was a magical week, one I will never forget. I will go again.

Cyrus Katrak, London, UK  

Jay’s sharp and creative mind opened my eyes to a myriad of things I wasn’t seeing before when looking through the viewfinder. He may have given me the key I was looking for to unlock my creativity. His insights and quotes are invaluable.

Juan Jose Reyes, Fort Lauderdale, FL

September 2009


Life changing experience. Any class put forward with such little information about content has to be special. This lack of detail promises an instructor with extraordinary depth, skill, and insight. Someone who tailors classes so a multitude of doors are opened for each individual. An instructor who opened himself, his heart, and his family to a group of strangers. If you’re ready for a paradigm shift, you’ve come to the right place.

Jim Mantock, Richardson, TX  

The workshop was an incredible emersion into the world of Jay Maisel. He’s part photographer instructor, part philosopher, part photographic genius, part self-described schmuck (ask him to see “the camera with no lens”). I especially enjoyed his frequent reminders to escape the boundaries of linear thinking and envied his continuing ability to view and engage the natural world with a childlike wonder. The growth I experienced as a result of the class goes beyond the camera and touches my personal life.

Peter Bromley, Nova Scotia, Canada  

I am going through workshop withdrawals – The week was both exhilarating and exhausting, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Jay packed the days and evenings with his knowledge, his insights and his wonderful stories. Every day we were visually saturated with beautiful images of Light, Gesture and Color. He’s brutally honest when he critiques your work and encourages others in the group to do so also. So when he tells you your work is a “glorious failure”, you actually feel quite honored. You’re glad you experimented instead of taking “the safe” picture. He inspires you to want to go out and shoot, to look at things in a new way. After the workshop, you can never go back to the way you used to ‘see.’

Sue Ganz, Pacific Palisades, CA  

Jay’s workshop is an immersion program. It is five non-stop days of stimuli and growth. He is very personable, very opinionated, very funny, a natural born teacher and much, much more. The depth of knowledge and experience is amazing. His warmth is infectious. The shooting and critiques were very helpful to see how my work progressed through the week. I liked Jay’s presentations and style but also liked that he brought in other guest speakers/photographers for contrast. The meals were great. Great food. Great discussions and great time to capture more images.

Rick Yates, Omaha, NE  

I entered the workshop with uncertainty and left with confidence. Jay has a magical way of critiquing and encouraging at the same time. He gave me a newfound confidence in my approach to photography. I began to pay attention to why…what and how I photograph. I learned the importance of the relationship between light, gesture, and color. I studied the content…the edges of the frame…the angle…but most importantly I shot from the heart. It is finally clear to me why it is so difficult to come up with a class description. It was a view thru the lens into the heart and soul, and work of Jay Maisel. It was life changing and did not disappoint in any way!

Dede Pickering, Bay Head, NY  

A perfect balance of shooting, critique, lectures, and camaraderie. Jay has an ability to impart information in a casual manner much like a family discussion rather than a classroom lecture. This created a learning environment that was unique and extremely enjoyable. Being in “The Bank” and seeing Jay’s archive and collections was a truly awesome experience.

Jeff Slutsky, New York, NY

June 2009


I wanted objective criticism – received that and much, much more. Jay is a remarkable humanist who happens to be an extraordinary photographer and teacher. He exudes generosity and shares his experiences and techniques without reservation. The week was peppered with wonderful surprises and the outstanding meals perfectly complemented the form and content of the workshop.

Jim Lewis, Flagstaff, AZ  

I got so much more than I expected. I am a better and more aware photographer, and had one of the best weeks of my life.

Anne-Marie Pietersma, Chino, CA  

The main thing I learned was to exercise more rigor when shooting, and not to allow myself to be sloppy or lazy. I know this will improve my future work. My desires to get some straight criticism were well fulfilled. In addition, the workshop experience was an excellent opportunity to get to know the working life of an outstanding professional, and to get to know the neighborhood charms of New York.

Alida Latham, Seattle, WA  

Real learning takes place when there is a change in behavior. Jay’s message has been in my mind every day since the workshop. I have been carrying a camera with me all the time (well — almost), and looking for light, gesture, and color. It’s been a lot of fun, as was the workshop. The balance of class, critiques, shooting, computer time, guest speakers and gourmet meals made each day fly by. I was looking for inspiration and found it.

Marge Robinson, Torrance, CA  

Renewing my friendship with Jay that began 30 years ago and being able to share the way he sees the world with my daughter, Anne-Marie — PRICELESS

Ron Pietersma, Chino, CA  

This is my second time in Jay’s class. Clearly, he makes an impression on me as a ‘learner’. He pushes, investigates and invites a reaction. He makes honest comments with the added benefit of humor. I think the essence of it is Jay’s obvious love for teaching and interacting with others. He brings a wealth of experience and care to his students.

Louise Field, Salt Point, NY  

This is my second time in Jay’s class. Clearly, he makes an impression on me as a ‘learner’. He pushes, investigates and invites a reaction. He makes honest comments with the added benefit of humor. I think the essence of it is Jay’s obvious love for teaching and interacting with others. He brings a wealth of experience and care to his students.

Louise Field, Salt Point, NY  

While Jay lives up to his reputation for being a tough critic, he does so with compassion and humor. He also engages each participant in the critiquing process, demanding that you examine your own work, as well as that of others, with a critical eye. I wanted to “push” my creativity – that was accomplished during the week through the process of becoming a better self-editor.

Polly Crongeyer, Pensacola, FL  

The workshop exceeded my expectations in every way. In short: I learned to see the world differently. This workshop isn’t about jazzing up images in postproduction – it is about capturing better images to start with. It is about learning to see light, gesture, and color. It is about overcoming obstacles that hold you back, enjoying yourself and being open to surprise. The week went by very quickly with great lessons on life and photography, great food and lots of humor.

Martin Renters, Ontario, Canada

May 2009


This workshop was a lifetime retreat which will have great impact on the rest of my life. Jay creates the warmth of a family starting from the first day and everybody in the group contributes to the experience. It’s worth every penny and second spent. I got so much back.

Izi Kohen, Istanbul, Turkey  

The critiques and comments Jay did about our images will greatly help me improve the quality of my images. Hearing his philosophy about photography and personal experiences will not only greatly improve my photography, but also I’m sure a little bit of my life.

Yves Perrault, Sait-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Canada  

I am now a better and more confident photographer. The other people in the workshop were fantastic and I plan to keep in touch with everyone. The workshop was packed full with shooting, reviews, discussion, excellent guest speakers, and good food. Jay made himself completely transparent, sharing insights, experiences, and suggestions.

Victor Glass, Bedminster, NJ  

I enjoyed every minute of it, the flow and schedule was perfect. The special guest we had the honor of meeting were fantastic and it will take me a few weeks to finish absorbing this wonderful workshop. By far the best I have taken.

Louisa Michelin, Boca Raton, FL  

You will be able to better identify what you like about your own and others’ images, and why. You’ll also be surprised what you can learn from others in the class – they will make you want to explore different aspects of photography. During the week, you will start seeing that art is everywhere if you’re walking slow enough, and that the best images can happen while you were making other plans. Each day brings something new, and even going out for lunch is surprising. After the class, you won’t be able to look through the camera the same way anymore, and you’ll be re-invigorated to see what you’ll be able to shoot next.

Jared Greeno, Redwood City, CA  

I liked the relaxing atmosphere in ‘The Bank’ and the laidback way Jay held his lectures. I am also very satisfied with how you organized each day.

Ola Fiske, Stavanger, Norway  

A week with Jay is a total immersion program. This week found us walking, talking, shooting, eating and sleeping photography. By the middle of the week, my other life was far behind and I was living photography. The variety of exposure, the pace of the class, and Jay’s candid yet compassionate comments made for 14 hour days that were never tiring or boring, rather they were stimulating and invigorating. I discovered parts of New York that I didn’t know existed and I discovered braveness in myself too. I miss being there now.

Kimberley Harmon, Kentfield, CA  

Curiosity, Courage, and Conviction. Of the three I came with the first, gained the second and left with the third, thanks to the inspirational workshop.

John Gussenhoven, Naples, FL

April 2009


Five days with Jay Maisel is the most intense offering in the photography world. We walked almost every inch of lower Manhattan, learned the history of the commercial photo business, met some of the most well known and influential people who define photography today, and pushed our personal boundaries to make better images. The critique sessions after each shoot were worth the price alone. Oh yeah, the food. We dined at some of the best restaurants in the best food city in the world. But the centerpiece is Jay and his world. And if you get the chance, it’s a world you’ll never forget.

Glenn Usdin (Repeat Offender: April ’08 & ’09), Lancaster, PA  

If you are a professional photographer, like myself, and have a successful career and no complaints about how things are going, don’t be afraid to admit you might be able to learn something new. To quote Bob Dylan; “He who’s not busy being born is busy dying.” Get it?

George Diebold, Hawaii  

Jay has innumerable amusing stories and anecdotes about the photo industry. He also has a great sense of humor. He is direct, critical, and highly colorful linguistically, but he is never pejorative; his comments always push one to become a better photographer. The slide shows, portfolio reviews, rounds of discussion and criticism, the opportunity to shoot in New York’s neighborhoods, the fantastic meals, the camaraderie of the group, and the hospitality of Jay and his family all made for a wonderfully full and rewarding week that flew by. The workshop helped me to open up to others, definitely to get better photos, and have more fun in the process.

Jerry Itzkoff, Pittsburgh, PA  

It was a great week and I’m so glad I made the leap. To anyone considering the class, I recommend coming with an open mind and open eyes. Let yourself be challenged. The time I spent in NYC during Jay’s workshop was some of the most fun I’ve ever had shooting. The whole experience – meeting the other participants, photographing on the city streets, the critiques and discussion, looking at Jay’s work, spending time in the bank building, and all the terrific meals – it is something I will value and carry with me as I continue to practice and grow as a photographer. I am looking more, seeing more, and shooting more.

Janet Little, Crownsville, MD  

I wanted to be around a great photographer and get feedback and direction from the group as well. So I got what I wanted and added about 5 lbs of weight too.

Cornelius Mateo, Faber, VA  

I first took a workshop with Jay in 1987 – since then I’ve attended many different workshops – some were good, and some were not so good, but his NYC class is the only one in which we were totally immersed in photography all day. Jay was by far the best instructor I have encountered. His ability to see and communicate how we should all look when creating images is truly wonderful.

Paul Dougan, Salt Lake City, UT  

Jay’s workshop enabled me to expand my photography in a direction that before this week was really foreign. The ability to photograph people, and look for and capture gesture has made my photographs better.

Vincent Mistretta, New Canaan, CT  

Expect to be filled with knowledge, insight, stories, humor, food, conversation, fun, friendship, shooting and more food. Many aspects of my shooting have greatly improved over the week, including how I do my self-critiquing and editing.

Scott Hawkins, Afghanistan

March 2009


It is not about histograms or LCD’s but about “seeing”. I discovered that all technical prowess is useless unless the image is there. Spending an intensive week with Jay reinforced the fact that it is the individual, not the camera or computer that makes an image great.

Jed Best, New York, NY  

Jay has an amazing passion for photography and everything in the world around him. Seeing the world through his eyes for a week was a humbling and inspiring experience.

Jack Diamond, Gaithersburg, MD  

The constant flow of lectures, taking pictures, and critiques was very inspiring and well worth the trip from Germany. I enjoyed every second of this week, filled with colorful impressions of Jay’s work and that will be a great source of creative help during upcoming jobs. personal life of one of the world’s best photographers. I will never forget this experience.

Joachim Albercht, Billerbeck, Germany

December 2008


Jay brought a legendary portfolio and lifetime of experience into the critique sessions, which were honest, encouraging, and respectful – there was a genuine commitment to helping everyone evolve as artists.

Kevin Burke, Boston, MA  

The workshop helped me get back on track and re-assess what kind of photos I’d like to take, make and how I do that. The week was way too intense for things to sink into my being in such a short time — but I fully expect them to sink in eventually. Nevertheless some of those aha-effects and ‘pearls’ already have had an effect and are flying constantly around in my head every time I see a photo, be it mine or someone else’s.

Andreas Bobak, Zurich, Switzerland  

Spending a week with Jay in his home was an invaluable experience. What a treat to be with someone who has had (and still is) a fabulous life and gets so much joy from almost everything he does. Jay is very open, and freely shares his thoughts and experiences with the group. Every day was organized very well, restaurant choices were superb. Arrive well rested, and be prepared to learn and talk about photography for five days.

David Matthews, Villanova, PA  

Jay is hugely engaging and entertaining speaker. At times uproariously funny, he is encouraging but he also demands the best that you can give. Sloppy composition, poor rendering and general carelessness are immediately exposed. The week flew by – and now, with the benefit of hindsight, I remember it fondly, as a week of concentration, application, stress, laughter, dedication and ……. food! I wish I could conjure up some witty or pithy epithet to sum up the week – it is almost impossible to summarize such a diverse and stimulating adventure so readily. Perhaps it is suffice to say that I would recommend it unreservedly and would do it again without hesitation.

Valda Bailey, Buxted E. Sussex, UK  

Jay’s heartfelt and honest critique and his insistence on some basic concepts alone would have made this great. But then, on top of that, you’ll get terrific food, a perfect organization, a phenomenal insight into the creative and personal life of one of the world’s best photographers. I will never forget this experience.

Frank Nürnberger, Kleinmachnow bei Berlin, Germany

November 2008


Think extraordinarily gifted and accomplished photographer, think humorous eccentric, think deliciously irascible, think senior with a large dose of child, think serious educator, think quintessential New York City experience and you have begun to characterized a Jay Maisel Workshop. It is true that the gate fee is high and, from a distance, immersing oneself in a workshop from nine in the morning until ten at night for five days may seem like a photographic Batan Death March. However, the fee is for value well received and the time spent all too fleeting. Jay teaches something very precious⎯how to develop an attitude, which frees a photographer to capture what the untutored eye would ordinarily miss, and the more formally trained eye would likely convert to the mundane. Jay liberates the photographer within you you may be hiding, whether you are a professional or otherwise. The experience is filled with learning, laughing and a large dose of delicious New York City ethnic food that is varied and unending. I highly recommend your participation.

Mel Bergstein, New York, NY  

The Bank, food, special guests and city made this workshop great – but hanging out for five intense days with Jay was unforgettable. My take away was his doctrine: I learned to go out empty and respond to the world around me, to be open to mystery and to celebrate the beauty of life – and most important to see much more (with and without the camera).

Michael Lax, Laurel Hollow, NY  

The workshop pushed me out of my comfort zone. Jay does a great job opening your mind to the variety things. The critiques are tough, but fair. Meals are taken as a group and are varied, but always enjoyable. The guest lecturers in my session were great. Lastly, I made some good friends in the class, who I expect to stay in touch with in the future.

Rob Grien, New York, NY  

The whole workshop experience was amazing. First and foremost is the experience and philosophy imparted by Jay to be open and flexible and get it right in the camera. He is a unique individual, and I feel I am a better person as well as a better photographer after the workshop. Touring his building provided a better understanding of his never ending search to be more creative throughout his photographic life. I learned a lot from my workshop mates as well – The critique sessions were extremely helpful.

Fred Littooy, Chicago, IL  

A great experience and immersion into a style of photography that opens up the skill of seeing and refines the purpose of making a picture. There are many workshops that focus on technical, Photoshop, digital, lighting and posing, but there are few — if any other — which deliver Jay’s message. I’m glad I went, and I’m a better photographer today.

John Wark, Pueblo, CO  

The week with Jay at the bank was a lifetime experience. Jay’s honest comments of my work where objective and helpful, and being able to see so much of his work gave me real insight. The workshop exceeded my expectations.

Thomas Winter, Palm City, FL

September 2008


I really enjoyed the total immersion in photography over the course of the week. Loved, loved, loved the restaurants!

Pam Busby, Milwaukee, WI  

I liked it all, the insights Jay shared with us, the reviews…I liked the fact that is was a full week. There is a lot of information that has to sink in.

Sander Klaassen, Terneuzen, Netherlands  

The workshop was far more than I’d hoped for. The fact that it was a small group certainly helped. Structure without being structured was a definite plus. The possibility and indeed the expectation of discovery was palpable. The common goal for all present of seeing more acutely and learning to execute that heightened vision more efficiently made for an experience of peers rather than competitors. Jay’s approach of incisive analysis of our images but tempered by the disclaimer of personal opinion made his criticism helpful and welcome; the gentle chiding of a parent, if you will, almost lovingly delivered. Jay’s accessibility was amazing! The overwhelming impression I had during and after the workshop was that I had experienced great kindness and generosity. That I was both valued and respected as a unique person and also photographer was important and welcome. I left Jay’s workshop feeling validated, energized, and ready for more of whatever comes next. Would I recommend this workshop to others? Absolutely and without reservation!

Chuck Pefley, Seattle, WA  

Liked having my work critiqued, and seeing others work praised or pulled apart. I keep trying to think of something to complain about but I cannot come up with anything, it was a wonderful experience – and I can always find something to piss and moan about but not last week.

David Salmanowitz, Bangkok, Thailand  

The workshop was very well organized and executed, with each segment flowing from one to the next. More than anything, what made it special was the degree to which Jay committed himself to us, even though he’s run so many workshops over the years, that one can’t see how this could possibly be fresh for him. He really dedicated himself to making the entire week a success. This was an expensive workshop, but worth the cost. I know my photography will improve and I take from the week a great experience I will remember.

Jeff Mandell, Beverly Hills, CA  

The atmosphere and interaction was warm, congenial, and productive. The level of organization is amazing. Clearly, every detail was considered. From finding our personal ‘flashdrive’ attached to our name, to setting up our ‘territory’ on the available workspace, to the endless supplies of food, you guys left no stone unturned. Each day had a smooth flow. I look forward to repeating the experience in the not-too-distant future. Your commitment to making sure that everyone benefited was evident throughout.

Louise Field, Salt Point, NY  

What a treat to spend five days totally immersed in the world of Jay Maisel. His photography is amazingly diverse and inspiring. His home/studio/gallery/archives and magical fifth floor left me nearly speechless. I appreciated his no-BS critiques and “order” to stop doing what I was good at and move on to new photographic territory. The importance of rigorous editing (98% of my images will be crap, so get over it and keep shooting) and admonishment to always carry a camera are just two of many lessons or tips that have already sunk in. Did I mention I had a lot of fun?

Char Davies, Burien, WA  

For me this week was a dive in to the deep end of the pool and a test if I would be able to swim. I (think I) survived. I learned more in this week then in the two years at the Foto Academie in Amsterdam. Not all was about photography itself, but for example about people, art, color, seeing and New York. I really enjoyed it.

Maarten Boerma, Amsterdam, Netherlands  

I have expanded and refined my vision, feel more open and confident about showing my work, and in a strange way don’t take myself so seriously … in translation I am more relaxed about the entire process and looking to have more fun. Strangely enough I think this has come from Jay’s relaxed talking and his enjoyment of photography. I look forward to seeing how this wonderful experience will impact my work. Thank you!

Louise Porter, Barbados/West Conshohocken, PA

July 2008


The total immersion in photography and creativity was very powerful. The pure teaching from Jay, and the intimacy of the group was very successful. The food, it goes without saying, was fabulous!

Nancy Farese, Kentfield, CA  

It was a life-changing and mind-blowing experience. I feel truly blessed to have had this opportunity to get to know Jay through his personal tours of his work, his home, his neighborhood, his lovely wife and talented and interesting friends, and his restaurant choices. The breadth and depth of what Jay has to share are impossible to describe and overwhelming to discover. I enjoyed all aspects of the week. I especially appreciated Jay’s insistence on my shooting people since I have shied away from doing so throughout my many years of creating photographs…or more aptly, studies… with my cameras. I want to compliment you on how beautifully the workshop was planned and executed, allowing things to unfold in a way that continued to interest, demand, inform, surprise and delight. I suspect that for me the long-term benefits will extend beyond the confines of my photographs.

Gary Dorothy, Palm Springs, CA  

I enjoyed the image review the most! This gave me both positive and negative feedback which is necessary for effective learning. I have come back from this experience both energized and haunted! Energized by what I have seen and learned, and haunted by what I need to do to improve my photography. It helped me to visualize what I was unable to in the past and I will always hear Jay’s voice in the back of my head helping me along the way. I could not have asked for more.

Howard Ignatius, San Jose, CA  

Full day including meals, small group, open house for us from bottom to top made me feel very much at home. How come neither Jay nor Jamie (Jay’s assistant) ever seemed stressed?

Birgit Neiser, Warngau, Germany  

I really enjoyed the course, especially the relaxed environment of Jay’s home. Jay’s wealth of information was so well conveyed, it really inspired me to become more active in my pursuit of beautiful images.

Chris Opel, Neideruzwil, Switzerland

April 2008


My week at The Bank was the most amazing photography workshop in which I have had the pleasure to participate. I loved the fine art side of you, something I did not expect. The work you showed us was incredible, and touring the Bank blew me away, especially the sculptural quality of everything you have collected. It gave me a new way to look at your work and, subsequently, a new appreciation for what I am trying to do with the camera. It was fascinating to hear other photographers who have excelled in their field give us their time with presentations and intimate conversations about their own work. In 30+ years as a professional photographer this has been the most influential act of change in my career. My advice to a future workshop participant: arrive rested, this deal ain’t for sissies.

Fran Doggrell, Ulmer, SC

December 2007


I really liked your attention to our 10 meal opportunities. Well done. Good variety; great food; nice camaraderie…the first time I really took time to look around and shoot thoughtfully…I liked the critique sessions, especially mine…Loved the tour of your building and especially seeing your home and shooting from the fabled roof on the last evening.

Lenny Lind, San Francisco, CA  

I had a great time at the workshop and I got more out of it then I hoped to. I got my money’s worth in the first day, the other four days were a bonus! I will forever think of my career in terms of pre- Jay Maisel Workshop and post- Jay Maisel Workshop. I feel it will be reflected in my work in the months and years to come.

Vincent Knaus, Springfield, VA  

Staying in one’s comfort zone does not improve us. The workshop taught and inspired me to see with fresh eyes…it changed my editing process… helped me see light in a better way and taught me to let the action unfold in front of my eyes. I don’t have a pre-conveyed notion of a good image any more.

Al Vinjamur, New York, NY  

It was an eye opener…Absorbing this stream of visuals and commentary was a task well worth the effort…it’s given me a new way to think about what I am shooting and why I believe someone would care to see it…The workshop message rests in learning, no, relearning how to see and coming to grips with why you feel someone else should pay attention…seeing how everyday situations can become art.

Sam Leindhart, Pittsburgh, PA  

I loved that we were talking photography from 8:30am until 10pm every day and that Jay welcomed us into his home. It really taught me how to approach street photography (something I wasn’t comfortable with) and made me realize why some of my shots where not as effective as I’d like them to be.

Ben Willmore, Lyons, CO  

Loved the class and would do it again…Jay was available for any question. I left feeling more certain about the type of photos I want to take and the things that interest me in photography. He exploded my ideas of what to look for…Loved the restaurants! I really got a feel for the diversity of New York City from the restaurants Jay chose. I would not change a thing! The tour of the Bank building and cocktails with Jays wife at their home, were the highlights of my week…They both made you feel like old friends getting caught up after many years.

Jeff Johnson, Bend, OR
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