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Photography Star Greg Gorman Holds Day-Long Master Class at PDS

Last week, renowned photographer and artist Greg Gorman held a phenomenal, all-day master class at PDS for Upper School photography students in Thatcher Cook's and Eileen Hohmuth-Lemonick's classes. Among Gorman's extensive body of award-winning photographic images are portraits of Hollywood icons and celebrities Elton John, David Bowie, Andy Warhol, Michael Jackson, Grace Jones, Bette Davis, Brigitte Nielson, Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio, to name a few.

The California-based photography superstar, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013 from the Professional Photographers of America, and who has published nine books, came to Princeton Day School at Cook's invitation, thanks to a mutual friend and fellow photographer who connected them.

Gorman is revered among photographers and those who follow the profession for his inventive and dramatic use of light and his ability to reveal the essence of his subjects. And for a full day at PDS, his themes were lighting and drawing out one's subject. In a series of working sessions both in the photography studio and the Arts atrium, Gorman shared specific strategies and tactics about how to see and work with light in different settings, how to assess, position and communicate with the subject, and how to combine these elements to create revealing portraits. For the first half of the workshop, Gorman photographed students and explained his lighting techniques. In the afternoon, the students had to apply their learning and instruct Gorman how to light the subjects before he took the photos. 

“That artists of Gorman's caliber are visiting PDS is a testament to the quality of Eileen and Thatcher's phenomenal program,” noted Upper School history teacher Sam Hunt. Hunt, along with Head of School Paul Stellato (below), was among many faculty and students who had their portraits taken by Gorman. 

"Students clearly came away with newfound understanding that will stay with them for a lifetime," Cook observed. "It was such a privilege to have Greg Gorman share his rare expertise with us." 

“He taught many of us that the key to a good portrait is the connection between the photographer and the subject," Jordan Young '21 shared. "This is done by communicating your ideas through them, then working together to get an outcome that is mutually adored,” he added.

Chloe Knerr ‘22 said, “It was really interesting how Greg Gorman made such a big effort to connect with the subject and how he was able to make them feel much more comfortable by doing so. This was crucial in producing a good portrait because it made the image more personal and emotional.” 

Hohmuth-Lemonick, a photography teacher at PDS since 1969, beloved mentor of generations of PDS photography students, and gifted professional photographer, was thrilled that her students were able to have such intimate and extensive instruction from an artist of this caliber.

“Greg's a most generous man, as well as a great teacher in the studio," Eileen explained. "He's photographed countless celebrities, yet he gave all of himself to our students at PDS for an entire day and even made a portrait of each of them. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she declared.

Young couldn't agree more. “The workshop held by Greg Gorman was a very rewarding and captivating experience. His inspiring and passionate energy carried throughout the entire day. I am confident that I will never forget this experience and that every new skill I learned will improve my photography further,” he reflected.

The highly-regarded photography program at PDS has helped train and inspire many professional photographers for more than half a century, thanks to Hohmuth-Lemonick (who can be spotted second from far left, above) and, in more recent years, to the highly talented Cook (above, left foreground), who has taken on the bulk of the program. Greg Gorman's all-day master class has likely tipped the scales even more for some of the School's current students whose passion for photography Cook and Hohmuth-Lemonick have helped cultivate.

For his part, Gorman clearly came away with good feelings about the master class sessions; he plans to hold another weekend workshop at PDS in the near future! Meanwhile, for your viewing pleasure, many portraits from the master class are currently on display in the School's theater lobby. And more behind-the-scenes photos of the sessions in action are below:


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