Industry News

Victoria Will on the Importance of the Workshop Experience

April 14, 2016

By RF Staff

Victoria Will

Sponsored by Santa Fe Photographic Workshops

© Victoria Will

© Victoria Will

Though Victoria Will began her career as a photojournalist, she fell in love with storytelling through portraiture. The magic came in learning to light her subjects, a skill she couldn’t use in her journalistic work. After working for a newspaper for several years, her first real editorial assignment came in 2010: photographing President Clinton for Foreign Policy magazine. Since then, she’s continued to photograph celebrities and models for publications like Esquire, Sports Illustrated and Vogue, and brands including ESPN, Levi’s and Sony.

“Every time I pick up the camera it’s another way for me to see something,” Will says. “I’m becoming more fluent in that language.”

Will has developed her photographic literacy through both on-set experience and education, and she’s an advocate for Santa Fe Photographic Workshops in particular. “They’re always a little bit of an escape because you can leave your work environment and pick the brain of a photographer whose work you admire,” she says. She describes the classes as small and intimate, but intense. “It’s not a vacation,” she adds. “It’s concentrated, but that’s the beauty of it.”

© Victoria Will

© Victoria Will

This summer, Will is scheduled to teach Editorial Portraiture at Santa Fe Workshops from July 24 through July 29. It’s one of three new five-day courses being added to the summer lineup, in addition to Photographing Celebrities, taught by Allen Clark, and Illuminating Portraits, taught by Erika Larsen. Santa Fe will also offer two-week workshops for the first time.

Will plans to fold in the best aspects of past workshops she’s taken into the one she’s teaching this July. She’ll be there alongside her students as an industry resource and to help them troubleshoot both in and out of the classroom.

But Will isn’t interested in teaching only the technical side of photography. She’ll delve deeper into what it means to be a contemporary portrait photographer, how one can get their work out into the world, and most importantly: how to work with one’s subject.

© Victoria Will

© Victoria Will

“Portraiture is about what I’m bringing to the table and what my subject is bringing to the table—I don’t think of it as capturing the soul,” she says of the old adage. “What I’m teaching is how to have that connection. I think it’s a mistake to treat anyone differently. I approach the shoot exactly the same way—whether my neighbor or an A-list celebrity or a model,” she says. The workshop will also reveal how to be flexible and how to be able to make compelling portraits on the fly, when preconceived ideas don’t pan out.

One of the best aspects of the workshops, Will notes, are the relationships that she’s forged beyond the classroom. They are also beneficial to photographers of all backgrounds. “I don’t think you are ever too old or experienced to take a workshop,” she says. “There’s always room to learn. I would go to a workshop now—it would just have to be the right person whose brain I’d like to pick.”

To read more about the courses at Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, visit their brand-new website at