Workshop: Dawoud Bey: The Portrait in Context

Saturday, December 6, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Sunday, December 7, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Aperture Foundation
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor
New York, N.Y.

Dawoud Bey, DeMarco, South Shore High School, Chicago, 2003



In Dawoud Bey’s portraits, he depicts both individuals and communities. Through series such as Class Pictures, Character Project, and most recently, The Birmingham Project, Bey explores collective individuality while guiding viewers through social and historical spaces.

Join Bey for a workshop on how to create effective portraits within a community context. The workshop will begin at Aperture, with an introductory review of students’ portfolios. In addition to providing personalized feedback and tasks for improvement, Bey will present his own work and experiences as an artist. The discussion will present conceptual and practical strategies for making new work, followed by a full-day site visit to a church, school, community center, or shelter where students will work directly with subjects to photograph them in the context of their shared environment and community. Students should have a strong working knowledge of their cameras, as well as basic working knowledge of artificial lighting.

Topics for discussion will include:
• What is your interest in the subject(s)?
• What is it you want to say about your subject(s)?
• What is the relationship between the subject(s) and the space you photograph them in?
• How do you establish narrative in the photographic portrait?
• How to collaborate with and direct your subject(s)
• Location setup and lighting: what works and how to do it

Dawoud Bey (born in New York, 1953) began his career as a photographer in 1975 with a series of photographs called Harlem, USA, which was later exhibited in his first one-person exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979. He has since had numerous exhibitions worldwide at such institutions as the Art Institute of Chicago; Barbican Centre in London; Cleveland Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Detroit Institute of Arts; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; GA; National Portrait Gallery, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among many others. The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, organized a mid-career survey of his work, Dawoud Bey: Portraits 1975–1995, which then traveled to institutions throughout the United States and Europe. A major publication of the same title was also published in conjunction with that exhibition. Class Pictures was published by Aperture in 2007, and a traveling exhibition of this work toured to museums throughout the country from 2007 to 2011.

Tuition: $500 ($450 for currently enrolled photography students and Aperture members at the Dual/Friend level and above)

Register here

Register here

Contact with any questions.

Image: DeMarco, South Shore High School, Chicago, 2003

“I like when people look at this picture of me and be like, ‘Oh, he looks like he’ll do something bad like this.’ Some people might be like, ‘Oh, he looks like a bad kid,’ or . . . like, ‘I can picture him beatin’ up somebody or taking something from somebody,’ whereas that’s not me at all. I guess there is a certain look, ’cause I’ve experienced it before. Like, teachers in school, they’re like, ‘Oh, I thought you was a bad kid, but you’re all right,’ you know. ’Cause I like to prove people wrong so I can make me look better in the end. ’Cause as they get to know me, then they’ll see—like I said, I’m a funny person—and they’ll see I’m a funny person.”

Refund / Cancellation Policy for Aperture Workshop
All fees are non-refundable if you should choose to withdraw from a workshop less than one month prior to its start date unless we are able to fill your seat. In the event of a medical emergency, please provide a physician’s note stating the nature of the emergency, and Aperture will issue you a credit that can be applied to future workshops. Aperture reserves the right to cancel any workshop up to one week prior to the start date if the workshop is under-enrolled, in which case a full refund will be issued. A minimum of eight students is required to run a workshop.


Sign up for Aperture's weekly newsletter: