The Photographer’s Eye

with Thomas Alleman

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Course Description

The Photographer’s Eye is an online workshop about what photographs look like, and why they look that way. It is concerned with photographic style and with photographic tradition, with the sense of possibilities that a photographer today takes to their work. This workshop led by photographer Thomas Alleman takes its name and inspiration from John Szarkowski’s 1964 exhibition at MOMA and an Aperture book published in 1996. The Photographer’s Eye is an indispensable introduction to the visual language of photography. In it, Szarkowski describes the five intrinsic focuses of the photographic medium: the thing itself, the detail, the frame, time, and vantage point. More than half a century later, these characteristics remain implicit touchstones in photography.

From this classical approach to the photographic medium, Thomas brings a contemporary perspective aimed at all photographers who aspire to make unique images of objects, people, and places in the real world. That photographer might find their pictures on a busy city street or in an empty alley, at a family reunion, or a tour of the Taj Mahal. Through lectures and discussions, exercises and assignments, this workshop educates a photographer about the process they are initiating when they press the shutter release button.

As three-dimensional reality passes through the camera’s lens and shutter, it’s altered; as a two-dimensional print or file, it’s bounded by edges and corners that further reshape it. Those obstacles need to be understood, overcome, even exploited. If we want to communicate our experience, we need to have a strong sense of what a viewer might encounter in that image, and what they won’t. Which parts of your experience simply don’t translate? What aspects of your experience are especially suited to presentation as a photograph?

In short, the goal in this workshop is to guide you towards an awareness of what the camera sees, or doesn’t, and how and what the photograph can reveal. Armed with this awareness, our photographs become more alive in the moment and in the field. The photographic process presents opportunities and options, and it’s up us to take full advantage of the gift of a photographer’s eye.

Additional Information

Amateurs, Advanced Amateurs
What You Should Know:

Working knowledge of digital workflow and manual mode on your digital SLR or mirrorless camera. Participants must be able to download and select images using image editing software for class sessions.


View Withdrawal and Transfer Policies for online programs.

For the convenience of participants, recordings of each class session are posted privately for one month after the end of each session. Santa Fe Workshops takes the recordings down after one month to protect the intellectual property of our instructors.

Beyond the Basics, Creative Vision, Fine Art
Thomas Alleman

Thomas Alleman was born and raised in Detroit and graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in English Literature. From that point onward he dedicated his attentions to photography. During a fifteen-year newspaper career, Tom was a frequent winner of distinctions from the National Press Photographer’s Association, as well as being named California Newspaper Photographer of the Year in 1995 and Los Angeles Newspaper Photographer of the Year in 1996. As a magazine freelancer, Tom’s pictures have been published regularly in Time, People, Business Week, Barrons, Smithsonian, and National Geographic Traveler.

Tom exhibited Social Studies, a series of street photographs, widely in Southern California. Sunshine & Noir, a book-length collection of black-and-white urban landscapes made in the neighborhoods of Los Angeles, had its solo debut at the Afterimage Gallery in Dallas in 2006. Subsequent solo exhibitions opened around the world, and most recently The Nature of the Beast debuted at the 515 Gallery in Los Angeles in 2021.

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