Venice: Costumes and Masks, Portraits and City Life

With John McDermott

February 27th (evening) – March 3rd, 2019 (mid day)


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

“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. The workshop gave me the final boost to visit Venice during Carnival. 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, Geneva


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


“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, Bavaria


“My dear John, Every time I photograph a face or a portrait I have to think of you!” – writes Guido Kettner, to John


“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, Bavaria


“It is always a pleasure to learn something from you and to „work“ with you.” – Peter Lutz, Bavaria



We will meet Wednesday night Feb. 27th 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


Wednesday February 27th (evening) until Sunday March 3rd, 2019 (mid day)

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


Meeting Point:

Hotel Serenissima 7 Minute walk from St. Marcus Square (



We have blocked several rooms for our workshop group at the Hotel Serenissima

There are only a few actual single rooms available, the other rooms are doubles which can be booked as a single.
Single room is €98,- incl. breakfast  |  Double room for single use is €130  |  Double room for 2 people €150 (for the room) – all incl. breakfast

Send me an email ( if you like me to reserve you a room at this hotel or you contact them directly and tell them you are with the Photogroup Claudia Brose.


IF/Academy-Passion for Photography


If you like to register for this Masterclass Workshop with John McDermott in Venice, February 27 – March 3, 2019,

please SEND AN EMAIL to

Thank you!

Claudia BroseVenice engl 2019