Gregory Halpern: Documentary Sur/Realism

"What’s interesting to me about the world is its chaos and contradictions, the way opposites can be so beautiful in relation to each other"

Gregory Halpern leads our latest on-demand class. Featuring a curriculum of 16 lessons, this class unpacks his approach to portraiture, the power of editing and sequencing in building photographic narratives, and shares insights into how his celebrated projects and photobooks – including A, ZZYZX and Omaha Sketchbook – were created. Follow Halpern as he creates new work in and around his native Buffalo, NY, focusing on his attempts to create compelling portraits of strangers met via Craigslist and encountered along the way. Halpern shares his end-to-end process, from pressing the shutter and creating contact sheets to his approach to editing and sequencing, giving his honest reflections on the successes and the failures. This class offers a host of valuable advice that can be applied to your photographic practice, from thought-provoking discussions on the genre of documentary photography, to playful exercises on the relationships between images when presented in a sequence.

GIVE AS A GIFT Add to cart - $99

What you'll learn

Creative Development

Halpern shares his journey in photography, revealing how his voice as an artist evolved from his first major project to the work he is making today.

Photographing Strangers

Understand some of the methods used by Halpern to find photographic subjects, and see how he navigates real-world portrait scenarios.

Intuition and Play

Halpern speaks about his intuitive approach and how he incorporates playfulness into his artistic practice.

Halpern’s Process

See the photographer in action as he makes new work, demonstrating his working process from creating contact sheets to making a selection through editing.

Narrative and Sequencing

Halpern shares insights on shaping narrative through sequencing, and how this works within photobooks, his favourite format for viewing images.


Learn about the photobooks that inspired Halpern and how the photographer edits and creates his own publications.


On Location


Discovering Photography


About your tutor

Born in Buffalo, New York, Gregory Halpern is known for his intuitively rich colour photography that draws attention to harsh social realities as well as the unerring strangeness of everyday life. His work is rooted in both the real and the sublime and this approach has led him to photograph life in post-industrial towns of the American Rust Belt, the people and places of Los Angeles and the uniquely unifying experience of a total solar eclipse.

Halpern has published five books of photographs and is the editor, along with Jason Fulford, of The Photographer’s Playbook: Over 250 Assignments and Ideas (Aperture, 2014). He holds a BA in History and Literature from Harvard University and an MFA from California College of the Arts. Halpern was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2014 and teaches photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Image by Thor Karlsen

16 Lessons

Covering Halpern’s early career, following him on-location as he makes new work, and deep-dives into editing, sequencing and photobooks.

5+ Hours

In-depth lessons and case studies totaling more than five hours of high-quality video content.

24/7 Access

No deadlines, no time-limits. Enjoy the content at your own pace, available online 24/7.


Are subtitles available and in which languages?

This course currently comes with English subtitles only. We are looking to add subtitles in the future.

How long is this course?

This course contains 16 lessons and has a runtime of over five hours.

What is included?

As well as the video lessons, you also get downloadable workbooks with lesson summaries, reading lists, and bonus material.

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