Venice: Costumes and Masks, Portraits and City Life

With John McDermott

February 7th (evening) – February 11th, 2018 (mid day)

All pictures © John McDermott


Experience with international photographer John McDermott a special, traditional season in Venice: The Carnival of Venice. Every year, people passionate about the Venetian Carnival celebrate the festival in their elaborate, wonderful, colorful, lavish, glittering, at times crazy, costumes and masks. Venetian masks are a centuries-old tradition of Venice, as is the whole Carnival of Venice festival. You will photograph the people in their costumes and masks, producing creative portraits.

Venice alleys, historic sites, canals and bridges provide a wonderful backdrop for portraits with breathtaking costumes and masks. During the night the streets are empty and offer mystic scenes. In the early morning hours passionate participants of the Venetian Carnival pose for portraitures at the waterfront and on the famous Piazza San Marco. We also take advantage of the vivid street-life and impressive architecture, capturing the life in Venice during its most famous season.

John McDermott is, among other, known for his portraiture photography. Together with him you will practice people photography, portraits and life in Venice. How do you approach people and make them feel confortable taking their picture? How do you incorporate the environment (or not)? John is a professional photographer since forty years with experience from all over the world. He speaks fluent Italian which had opened some hidden doors in the past and will offer you access to people, places and situations you might not think of while walking the streets of Venice.

While on the move on the streets, we will use the Profoto A1 flash that allows for quick usage to enhance portraits or other situations you want to capture in better light.

Late afternoons participants can work on their pictures and we discuss them and give feedback and advice for the next day. In the evenings we enjoy dinner together.

John McDermott: „The prospect of photographing Venice can be both exhilarating and intimidating. Exhilarating because it is truly a unique and beautiful place, with amazing light and moods and lots of interesting daily life. Intimidating because it is one of the most photographed places on earth so there is a lot of great, and not so great, photography already available.

My advice to anyone headed to Venice, but especially to those who will be attending or are still thinking about attending, our IF/Academy Masterclass, is to look at everything you can before you go. Inform yourself. Check out the greatest Venice pictures by masters like Ernst Haas and Gianni Berengo Gardin(google berengo gardin venice photos). Go to the Magnum website and search for the best Venice images by that agency’s roster of great photographers, such as Elliott Erwitt and Bruno Barbey. Then even look at the paintings of Canaletto, who captured the magical light and moods of Venice with brush and oil paint in a time before photography existed!

All this should be informative and inspirational. Then, put it all aside. Go to Venice, see it with your own eyes and show the world what YOU see, show everyone YOUR unique take on Venice. Every photographer who has ever gone to Venice has faced the same problem: how do I do something which is good but which isn’t a repetition of a cliché, something which hasn’t been done and seen before? It’s actually easy. Just go to Venice, and then let yourself go. Free your vision. You will do something unique, because Venice is an ever-changing tableaux of light and shadow, mood and activity, every day is different, every photographer is different. Go, look, listen and do your best. You will succeed. In Venice it’s very difficult to fail.“


Carnival of Venice is first documented in the 11th century and it became official in the Renaissance period. It became very famous in the 18th century but under the rule oft he Holy Roman Emporor it was outlawed in 1797 and the use of masks became forbidden. After a long absence the Carnival returned in 1979, when the Italian government and cultural institutions decided to bring back the history and culture of Venice.

About John McDermott

John McDermott is an American-born photographer with dual nationality (Ireland/USA) working internationally, most often in Europe or the USA. His earlier brief „careers“ as soccer player, Navy officer and journalist eventually gave way to a passion for photographing sports, industry, the urban landscape and human interaction.

John is internationally recognized for both his portrait work and his sports photography. He has photographed CEO’s of major corporations, authors, artists and athletes, as well as everyday working people, for a long list of corporate and editorial clients who have sent him to more than forty countries, ten Olympic games and eight FIFA World Cups. He has photographed the greatest players in soccer history, from George Best, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff and Pelé to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo or made portraits of David Beckham, Steffi Graf, Steve Jobs, Queen Elizabeth or Run DMC. His clients have told him he has an eye for clean, graphic composition and great light, and a knack for catching the right moments.

John McDermott divides his time between northern Italy, Germany and San Francisco. He is fluent in Italian and has working knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese. His clients include adidas, Apple, American Express, Canon, Eastman Kodak, Focus, GEO, FIFA, International Paper, Goldman Sachs, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Time, US Airways and the Wall Street Journal.

What people say about John McDermott

“John as an instructor is out of this world!” – Sven Bernert, participant 2015, 2016


“Although I own expensive equipment, my photos never reached the level I was dreaming of. Within two days training executed by outstanding professional photographer John McDermott I learned more than in years before. It was a pleasure “to be learning by doing” from this wonderful team and to have a good time with an inspiring group of ambitious trainees.”  Stephan Holzner, participant  2016


“My dear John, Every time I photograph a face or a portrait I have to think of you!” – writes Guido Kettner, to John, a participant of John’s People Photography Masterclass.


“John has an amazing talent to pull people into the story, the scene, the photograph. It is impressive how he interacts with people and how much attention he pays to each individual he is interacting with, may it be the participant of a workshop or the subject of the photograph. I not only learned a lot about photography but also about myself.” Hansjörg Künzel, participant 2015


“It is always a pleasure to learn something from you and to „work“ with you.” – Peter Lutz, participant of several Masterclasses with John McDermott.



We will meet Wednesday night Feb. 7th for introduction, explanations and preparations at the Hotel Serenissima. (

Sometimes we will photograph early in the morning (6.30am) and perhaps some night photographing.



Price: EURO 1.050,-


Minimum participants: 6
Maximum participants: 8

Deadline for registration:  February 15th, 2018

Wednesday February 7th (evening) until Sunday 11. February 11th, 2018 (mid day)

Not included in the price:
Lodging, meals, travel cost.


Meeting Point:

Hotel Serenissima near St. Marcus Square (


Lodging Suggestions:

Hotel Serenissima

Antica Casa Coppa

Hotel Bonvecchiati

Hotel la Fenice et des Artistes

Hotel Canaletto




IF/Academy-Passion for Photography


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Claudia BroseVenice 2018