Venice – when it’s quiet.

Venice how it works, moves and lives – and how it creates art. Portrait of a city and its people.

A workshop masterclass with John McDermott

June 9th (evening) – 13th (mid day) 2021

– we adapt the timing according to the travel possibilties (Covid rules) between Italy and other countries –

Travel Photography | Street Photography | People Photography

- This workshop is in English -

Have you ever been to Venice, Italy? What kind of image do you have in your mind when you picture yourself in Venice? Are you navigating the narrow alleys and the many little bridges crowded with tourists? Or do you see yourself almost alone between those amazing historic walls, sometimes slipping in and out of the fog and shadows, surprised by so many different colors and details? Is there still a time when Venice is quiet? Well….this crazy time has shed a new light on our normally crowded cities in the world….

How about experiencing a Venice with less hustle and bustle and peace and quiet, a Venice of mystical black-and-white imagery and colorful facades illuminated by a soft spring sun or evening light diffused by fog and mist? There can be a Venice…you recognize from classic films.

Discover a Venice that doesn’t conform to the postcard stereotype in the company of the renowned professional photographer John McDermott who provides the participants with unexpected access to interesting locations, valuable tips on how to approach people on the street for taking a quick portrait and who will help you to refine your personal vision.

John McDermott’s Input for YOUR Venice

Cinematographic approach

“You learn to eliminate, as opposed to adding,” Gordon Willis said of his time making documentaries. “Not many people understand that.”[ Willis, who was the cinematographer on the three Godfather films, All the President’s Men, Annie Hall, Manhattan and many others, once stated: “I’m a mimimalist. I see things in simple ways … It’s human nature to define complexity as better. Well, it’s not.” I have always had a similar philosophy, with my photography, and also with my lighting and post-production techniques. It’s a cliché, but less is, in the end, very often more.


Willis also said: “It’s hard to believe, but a lot of directors have no visual sense. They only have a storytelling sense. If a director is smart, he’ll give me the elbow room to paint”. I love those clients who trust me enough to “give me room to paint”.


I have always studied the work of great photographers. But I have also always paid close attention to, and learned a lot from, the work of cinematographers and filmmakers I admire. I have in mind people like Willis, of course, but also Stanley Kubrick(Barry Lyndon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr. Strangelove), Vittorio Storaro(1900, Apocalypse Now, Reds, The Last Emperor), Roger Deakins(Fargo, Kundun, A Beautiful Mind, Skyfall), Freddie Young(Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Ryan’s Daughter) and more recently Earnest Dickerson(Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Treme, The Wire, Bosch). They all influence the way I see, the way I frame a picture and the way I use light and shadow, and especially color.

What makes this Venice workshop special?

With American photographer John McDermott you will have a professional photographer at your side sharing with you his decades long international experience in portraiture and documentary photography for international media companies and corporations. John is fluent in Italian which has helped him to open doors to many local spots and opportunities.

I am glad that I booked a masterclass with the internationally renowned photographer John McDermott, organized by the IF/Academy, which I knew from their Summer Academy in Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy. John speaks Italian fluently and has a talent to “break the ice”, something that is hard to learn and impossible to copy. But that’s why I like to travel with a guide, in particular when there is a language barrier. Thus, opportunities arise that otherwise will be kept behind closed doors.” – Stephan Russenschuck

People in Venice. People Photography.

Among other things, John is known for his portrait and people photography. With him, participants will photograph street life, gondoliers and working people, as well as a person in carnival costume and mask. We will practice people photography, day and night, in the side streets, arcades and mystical corners of Venice.

How do you approach people and motivate them to be photographed? We will work mainly with available light, sometimes augmented by a small electronic flash, to create portraits “on the fly.

Every day our pictures will be reviewed and discussed, and participants will receive feedback. In the evenings we will enjoy a great Venetian dinner together.

Why go to Venice with the IF/Academy?

At the IF/Academy we are all about community, learning and working together with top photographers. Our job is to help you SEE and improve your perception. Through our instructors we want to help our participants to do their best, so they discover and become aware of the skills and knowledge they already exist inside of them.

Everything was just right. John impresses with very precise feedback, which helps you to grow. He always comes up with ideas and solutions and he approaches the people in such an open way that it resulted in special opportunities for us. Judging by the result: I learned a lot, improved a lot and I returned home with many good pictures and filled with motivation and inspiration.” – Oliver Horlebein.

Photography trains our situational awareness and our attention to details – and that’s what the IF/Academy is about. The camera and photography are wonderful tools to train our conscious perception for our surroundings and for ourselves. In order to practice just that, the city of Venice offers a lot: she demands all your senses, and your SEEing of the seemingly endless details is trained on every corner, piazza or bridge. The photographer John McDermott emphasizes again and again “situational awareness” when taking photos, which is just as important in everyday life. Venice and photography are two components that challenge our situational awareness in an exciting way.

The term Masterclass is appropriate. Everything is on a high level and this creates an ideal atmosphere for improving your photography. John explains everything in a clear and comprehensible way. The workshop masterclass was very well prepared by you guys.” ­– Bernd Beykirch.

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. Perhaps his most prestigious portrait assignment was the adidas 60th anniversary commemorative book for which he was chosen to do all North American portrait photography, including such figures as David Beckham, Rod Laver, Steffi Graf, Edwin Moses, Nadia Comaneci, Run DMC and Ian Thorpe.

John McDermott is known for problem-solving and for bringing a strong sense of design and authenticity to a diverse range of subjects. John became a regular contributor to Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, Time Magazine and Focus(Germany). He is a veteran of ten Olympic Games and eight soccer World Cups, shooting for Newsweek, Kodak and FIFA and has photographed the greatest players in soccer history, from George Best, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff and Pelé to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

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.


Website John McDermott

What participants say about John

“The Venice masterclass with John resulted in a high learning effect within a short period of time. The tasks were adapted to the level of the workshop participants and included several surprise experiences. The feedback was very goal oriented. The organization was perfect and we it was a great group to be with.” – Bernd Beykirch


“I am glad that I booked a masterclass with the internationally renowned photographer John McDermott, organized by the IF/Academy, which I knew from their Summer Academy in Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy. John speaks Italian fluently and has a talent to “break the ice”, something that is hard to learn and impossible to copy. But that’s why I like to travel with a guide, in particular when there is a language barrier. Thus, opportunities arise that otherwise will be kept behind closed doors.” – Stephan Russenschuck


“John as an instructor is out of this world!” – Sven Bernert


“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


We meet Wednesday evening for meet & greet, introduction, explanations and preparation at Hotel Al Codega. Afterwards we enjoy dinner together in a well chosen restaurant.


Sometimes we will photograph early in the mornings, sometimes late in the evenings.


During the day the participants photograph under the guidance of John with assignments and assistance by him.


In the evening we get together for dinner in selected (non-touristic) restaurants to enjoy each other’s company, talk photography (or not), share the experience of the day and/or ask John more questions.


The workshop is in English



Price: EURO 1250,-

(Lodging not included)


Number of participants: 6

NOT included in the price is:
Lodging, Meals, Travel



We are blocking rooms in the hotel Al Codega, close to St. Marcus Square.

Rooms for single use cost EURO 90,-

Room for double use – room cost Euro 105,-

Please let me know if you like us to put your name on one of the rooms – you can pay upon arrival.


NOTE: This Workshop is in English

IF/Academy-Passion for Photography


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