(c) Margaret Steber 2020


MAGGIE STEBER: The Documentary Essay: Telling Your Story

Orientation Sunday, May 3th, 4:30pm – 5:30pm

Monday, May 4th – Thursday, May 7th, 9:00am – 4:00pm.

Friday, May 8th 9:00am – 11:00am

This documentary workshop is about storytelling. A story can be told in one photo or in many but it is defined by the photographer and how they engage with their subjects visually and personally. The workshop will emphasize how to discover, uncover, and reveal the essence of exchanges with people or whatever subject you choose. We will concentrate on themes and perspective as  well as aesthetic aspects to encourage your own visual voice.

Our own stories give shape to our individual photographic approaches. Documentary photographers interpret their subjects with a photographic vision that is unique to them as much as it is about the subjects. It’s all about engaging with your subjects, be they people or issues, which we will discuss and practice. Our aim is to help you develop a personal eye and create a refined and well thought-out approach to photographing, editing, and carrying projects forward to the next level.

A workshop like this is about trying something new or refining an approach. It’s a good time to take chances and try something you never tried before. That’s important for our growth as visual storytellers. You can photograph anything after discussion or continue to work on a project you have started. Everyone will work on a documentary project during the workshop.

How do you find a subject? It has a lot to do with the way you see or connect to places and people or what moves you. We all have a longing for new experiences and a workshop like this is the perfect place to practice and hone your work. The point is to discover how to tell documentary stories.

The workshop is designed to guide serious photographers, both professional and enthusiasts. I strongly suggest you do some research on Palm Springs before coming to find out what’s going on or to find ideas.

PLEASE NOTE:  Each participant should bring 10 to 12 images they have shot which they think represents their styles, interests and what they think is their best work. These should be on a USB stick or should you want to show prints, that’s fine but not required. We will have a quick review of the work.

We will review the work of photographers working in the documentary style including long-term projects and individual photographs that speak to a visual style.

FOR THOSE WHO REGISTER: I will send an inspiration list of work by a variety of photographers whose work represents a strong documentary style and variety of approaches.


Each participant should photograph a subject idea with the goal producing a set of images by the end of the workshop. Throughout the workshop critiques will take place, both in group and individually. Maggie will provide guidance and help you streamline each idea, provide research tips and create a coverage plan. Students participate in editing and review sessions, and group reviews of one another’s work. There will be one-on-one sessions to discuss personal projects and career work. The workshop will culminate with each photographer presenting their photographs to the class for feedback.


Advanced Enthusiasts, Professionals


Working knowledge of digital workflow and manual mode on your digital SLR or mirrorless camera. Participants must be able to download, select, and transfer images to their own jump drive for class each day.

PRICE: $2060

Includes daily registration for the days of the class, class transportation and a boxed lunch for each full day of the workshop.


Photographers should bring their laptops and be conversant with their hardware and software in order to facilitate downloading and projecting their work for critiques in class. Digital projectors with standard DVI / VGA cables will be provided. If you require DVI connectors and / or adapters, please bring one to class.

All Workshop Participants are invited to the Canon/Freestyle Digital Print Center at Korakia on Thursday, May 7th from 11:00am to 6:00pm to have an image of their choice printed out on a Canon Pro 2000 printer, using custom profiles and on their choice of several inkjet papers. 


Photographer Maggie Steber uses photography to explore the human experience. Her honors include a Guggenheim Foundation grant as well as grants from the Alicia Patterson Foundation, Ernst Haas Grant and the Knight Foundation. Her honors include the Leica Medal of Excellence, World Press Photo First Prize in Spot News, the Overseas Press Club, Pictures of the Year, and the Medal of Honor for Distinguished Service to Journalism from the University of Missouri. In particular she has focused on Haiti for 30 years. Aperture published some of that work in DANCING ON FIRE.

Steber is among eleven Women of Vision named by National Geographic Magazine. She was a Newsweek Magazine contract photographer and an Asst. Managing Editor of Photography and Features at The Miami Herald, overseeing projects that won a Pulitzer and were twice finalists for the award. Her work is included in the Library of Congress, the Guggenheim Foundation Collection and The Richter Library as well as private collections. Her work is exhibited internationally and is included in many private collections as well as the Library of Congress and the Richter Collection. She has worked in 70 countries.

“Throughout the workshop Maggie came across as a thought leader, very passionate about the Mystery Workshop, well organized, straight forward and extremely focused in all matters of our photography as students. She took her time with each one of us individually to provide feedback and expert guidance; She was demanding and asked for all to work hard. The group editing sessions were a great learning experience as she kept pushing us to liberate from our usual, to be able to “See the World in a Different Way”…Herzen