Pictures from the Inside

WHERE DO YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS live on the continuum of “documentary” photography? Do you see the world through the lens of a photojournalist or as a visual artist who frames reality – but twists the moment more to your will, using the camera as a tool for amplifying your voice and projecting your personal vision? Most of us who practice documentary photography land somewhere between the two, demonstrating a bias toward the safer, more predictable storytelling approach.

Margaret Bourke-White and W. Eugene Smith were known for employing a highly objective style that made them famous as photojournalists for Life Magazine. Their aim was one of straightforward and accurate representation, with the implied intent of helping reform society. Compare those photographers to Robert Frank, Nan Goldin and Sally Mann, who imbue their photographs with aggressive personal agendas and potent points of views that are deeply idiosyncratic and often provocative. The distinction is striking, yet all are operating within the recognized “documentary” genre.

Pictures from the Inside is designed for both photographers whose work is conversant with the personal documentary approach, like Frank, Goldin, Mann, Lisette Model, William Klein and others, and those who wish to transition their work from relative objectivity to a more highly subjective, edgier documentary style.

We’ll discuss New Documents, an influential photography exhibition that took place at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1967. Curated by John Szarkowski, the exhibition propelled the personal documentary style into the mainstream, radically altering the definition of “documentary” and influencing generations of photographers since. In describing the work of Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander and Garry Winogrand, whose photographs were featured, Szarkowski wrote at the time:

“Their aim has been not to reform life but to know it.”

Using Szarkowski’s definition of personal documentary photography as a starting point, James Friedman will encourage participants to create new bodies of work using both traditional and/or unpredictable approaches to documentary photography, and to demonstrate an undeniable point of view inspired by soulful, heartfelt and deeply personal impulses. Any reform that takes place may be the exciting discoveries you make with your own documentary style.

Through his expert teaching, Jim Friedman changed how I saw the world but, more importantly, how I saw myself.

San Jose, CA

© James Friedman


As a group, we’ll examine different forms of documentary photography, graduating students at their own pace toward a more personally expressive style of documentation. We’ll also consider different eras of photography and how the definition of documentary has evolved, respecting the value delivered by every photographer willing to commit themselves to the investigative process.


  • An appreciation of documentary photography in its many creative manifestations
  • A willingness to embody proven strategies that may lead to the emergence of more potent imagery
  • The improved ability to adopt a distinct point to view in order to reveal the emotional heart of a situation or subject
  • Participation in a community of committed and accomplished photographers whose feedback and support could be highly beneficial for creative growth
  • An ability to speak more eloquently about your work and that of other participants by working toward a greater photographic fluency
  • The value of working within a safe and collaborative partnership with other participants to enhance each other’s personal work


Participants will be expected to be proficient in the technical knowledge of their camera and have a demonstrated ability to create successful analog or digital images. A willingness to participate actively and in a non-judgmental manner will contribute directly to the enjoyment of the workshop for everyone. For photographers unfamiliar to the instructor, a review of selected images and brief discussion regarding the prospective student’s goals for the class is required.

NOTE: This workshop meets online via Zoom. We encourage participants to install and test the software on your device prior to the workshop.

For more information, email

Pictures from the Inside

April 4 – May 23, 2023
Every Tuesday
7:00-9:00 p.m. EST
10 (max.) participants


JAMES FRIEDMAN is an acclaimed educator and one of the most talented and uncompromising photographic artists working today. His work has been exhibited internationally and has appeared in numerous books and prestigious critical publications. He is an Aaron Siskind Foundation Individual Photographer’s Fellow and recipient of the Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio. He is deeply committed to the growth and development of his students and their craft.

Click here to learn more about Jim’s career accomplishments and view images from his award-winning bodies of work.