The Human Portrait Online Juried Exhibition DCP invites you to enter our juried competition, The Human Portrait, with photographs that illustrate the human connection. Cash prizes will be awarded and selections will be featured in a virtual exhibition on the DCP website. Submission deadline is November 29.

Creating Compelling Portraits

A portrait can be much more than a picture of someone's face. Expand your definition of portraiture with Jennifer Spelman of Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.
Upcoming Workshops

No workshops currently scheduled

True portraits are full of connection and evoke a sense of emotion. They are infused with life and breathe with character. To create an imaginative representation of another person is wonderfully rewarding. For this to successfully happen requires strong skills of observation and most importantly, a sensitivity to really seeing someone else.

A good portrait photographer can put any subject at ease while successfully navigating their camera. We will learn to use the tools of focus, depth of field and motion, not as technician but as a photographer finely crafting our vision of another person. We will challenge our use of available light and find creative ways to utilize it to set the emotion and mood of our image. Through careful composition we will establish not only the harmony of the frame but also convey a point of view and our relationship to the subject.

We’ll start our four days together looking at and discussing the most important classic and contemporary portraiture photographers like Yousef Karsh, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Cig Harvey and Frank Okenfels. We’ll explore other photographers who have helped redefine the definition of a portrait. Jennifer will also share her work and talk through the process of going from an idea to the execution of an image quickly and within a variety of locations and situations. Through demonstrations, challenging assignments and photographing one another we will develop the confidence and begin practicing photographing friends and family in our homes and friendly local subjects met within the city of Dallas.


Anyone who wants to tell the story of another person through portraits. You should already be familiar with your camera and comfortable shooting in Aperture Priority and Manual exposure modes.


  • We’ll learn to really see our subjects first, then develop and previsualize a unique portrait and finally translate that idea seamlessly into a dynamic image.
  • We’ll examine the technical practice of using light, background and camera settings for maximum effect.
  • We’ll tap into our creativity by learning to use notes of metaphor and mood and trusting our instincts.
  • And most importantly, we will learn to really engage with someone else. A relaxed and natural portrait will only occur after the photographer has the trust of their subject. This interaction is critical and becomes easier with practice and feedback.


This workshop will not cover studio or location lighting or image workflow. You should be comfortable with your camera’s operation and familiar enough with your editing software to allow import, selection and export of your images. If you need some technical preparation or a refresher then please take the DCP DSLR Evening ClassesBeginner Full Day WorkshopLightroom classes or equivalent training.


DSLR or Mirrorless Camera, Laptop and Editing Software. If you own a tripod, bounce reflectors or a diffuser bring them, but not required. There are no minimum requirements for camera style or model.

  • This 4 day workshop is held at Dallas Center for Photography from Thursday, July 26 to Sunday, July 29.
  • Early registration (extended through July 4 at 11:59pm) is $695. Late registration is $785.
  • See below for workshop schedule.
  • Jennifer will be delivering a talk on Thursday, July 26 from 7-9pm. Entry is included in workshop price and participation by workshop attendees is strongly encouraged.
  • Meals are not included in the cost of registration.
  • Minimum number required for workshop to make is 10. Maximum size is 14.
  • If you’re planning to travel to Dallas for this workshop please check the information in our general FAQ page.
  • TPS Members: The first 2 TPS members to register get a $75 discount to this workshop. Contact TPS Executive Director Sarah Sudhoff for your coupon code.

Workshop Schedule:

We’ll meet at DCP at 9am for classroom instruction and a review of Jennifer’s work. There will be a discussion on what makes a memorable portrait as well as a review of masters in portraiture. In the afternoon we’ll practice photographing one another on location with assignments.

We’ll return to the classroom at 9am where you’ll submit 8 images from the previous day for a group image critique. Jennifer will demonstrate quality and quantity of light and discuss creative self portraits. You’ll then head out to complete the day’s assignment on friends, family or the Dallas community.

Day 3: Saturday, July 28 – MOOD & METAPHOR, IDEAS, EXPRESSION
We’ll return to the classroom at 9am where you’ll submit 8 images from the previous day for a group image critique. There will be a discussion and slideshow on mood, metaphor and authentic creative ideas. You’ll spend the afternoon practicing these concepts on friends, family or receptive strangers.

The final day will start the same at 9am with the group image critique followed by a presentation on vision and portrait projects. After lunch Jennifer will wrap up lecture on business, model releases, printing books, shows and website.

This workshop has special terms and conditions that supplement and/or replace the general terms found elsewhere on the DCP website.

The early registration discount is in effect up to 30 days before the workshop date and ends June 26 at 11:59pm. Update: The discount has been extended through July 4 at 11:59pm. We must have a minimum of 10 participants by the early registration deadline for the workshop to make.

If you cancel more than 31 days before the workshop begins then we’ll refund any payments made less a $100 processing fee. If you cancel from 22 to 31 days before the start date of the workshop we will refund all money received to date minus a $200 cancellation penalty. If you cancel less than 21 days before the start date of the workshop you will forfeit 100% of the total workshop fee. If you can’t attend you are welcome to send someone in your place. In some cases we may be able to find a replacement for your empty seat if the workshop is already sold out in which case you will receive a partial refund minus the $200 cancellation fee.

Dallas Center for Photography reserves the right to cancel a workshop at any time for low enrollment or for other reasons and will promptly refund all payments made to date. In the event of a workshop cancellation, DCP and Spot Studio, Inc. are not responsible for reimbursement of non-refundable airline tickets, hotel reservations and other travel arrangements. If you’re coming from out of town we recommend that you purchase travel insurance.

Jennifer Spelman

Jennifer Spelman is a freelance editorial and documentary photographer based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is a fluid traveler and is equally at home in rural villages and cosmopolitan cities.

A sensitive photographer of people, she strives to create images with energy and insight. Her clients have included Village Science, Seven Squared Media, The Heart Gallery, What Moves You, Sanjhi, and Sustainable Santa Fe. Jennifer is a patient educator who has co-instructed with National Geographic Expeditions and taught workshops in Santa Fe, India, Mexico, and Cuba. She is thrilled to lead passionate photographers on ridiculously fun adventures around the world with the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.

View full bio