The Soul of a Portrait


The Soul of a Portrait


A Portrait Photography Master Class

A six-day workshop on elegant portraiture. Len is joined by, Cleveland, Ohio’s (USA) Herb Ascherman. Herb has been a professional portraitist for 40 years, working with the fine art of handmade platinum prints.


Six days of classroom sessions, shoots, feedback and printing your work. Workshop starts Sunday lunch time and finishes Friday afternoon.

Held at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. 


23rd - 28th April 2017

"I must say, White on White was the best workshop I have attended ever (and I have done many)."

- Mary-Lou 


Photograph Copyright © Herb Asherman

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Herb Ascherman

Herb Ascherman




Mid-day start on Sunday 23rd April 2017

Finish Friday 28th April 2017 at 5 pm

Do you want to shoot stunning fine art or professional portraits but don’t feel confident?  Would you like to learn more about photographing people? 


Herbert Ascherman Jr. has been creating fine art and professional portraiture for more than 40 years, specialising in black and white and the resurgent art of platinum photography.

Internationally recognised for his photographs of people in creative, commercial, and social settings, Herb´s work has been exhibited and commercially published throughout the US, Europe, Japan and India.

If modern gadgets have made everyone a photographer, they have also accentuated the artistry of Cleveland’s Herbert Ascherman Jr. A black-and-white portraiture specialist whose career has spanned four decades, Ascherman favours platinum printing, the 140-year-old process by which a negative of the image is placed on platinum-coated paper and exposed to ultraviolet light. You don’t find that at the Walgreens photo lab, and talents like Ascherman are equally rare.

Join us for a unique portrait photography workshop experience. Two master portrait photographers will teach the workshop.

Len has asked Herb Ascherman to be our guide, to hold you hand and take you on a journey to being a better portrait photographer. 

Herb is an experienced teacher with many years of professional experience. He demonstrates a sensitive and caring nature ideal as a nurturing educator. He is a professional photographer with a lifetime of shoots behind him. Len believes this combination will shine, and with gentle facilitation the attending photographers will grow immensely. 

This is a hands on week. You can expect to be pushed. You can expect photographic exercises. Lots of portrait shoots. Amazing experiences. The opportunity to observe master portrait photographers working. One nude shoot is included.

Copyright © Herb Ascherman

Herb and Len both believe that portraiture is more than just posing and lighting your subjects well. We believe that the soul of a portrait requires deeper reflection and observation. Great composition. Building rapport and understanding of your sitters.

Len will work alongside Herb, teaching and supporting you learn. Len will offer support with technical difficulties with lighting, posing, cameras and post processing. As well as offer his own portraiture methods & techniques.



23rd - 28th April 2017





1/55 Waratah Street

Katoomba, Australia


188 Katoomba Street

Katoomba, Australia



12 pm start on Sunday

5 pm finish on Friday



This workshop is suitable for all photographers (from advanced beginner, through intermediate to advanced or working professionals) who are interested in developing their portrait photography. If you're a beginner we recommend you do one of our basic camera handling workshops before attending this one.


Photograph Copyright © Herb Ascherman


I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for joining me at Katoomba in April.

I know it is hard to evaluate a program based on a catalogue description, so I thought I would take a minute to introduce myself and discuss my plans for our get together.

I have worked as a portrait and fine art photographer since 1975. My professional and creative interests have given me the opportunity to photograph three sitting US presidents, hundreds of authors, artists and creatives. I was the portrait photographer to the Cleveland Orchestra for 20 years. I recently calculated that I have taken over nine thousand black and white portraits (on film)  in my career, working in 40states and 34 countries. 

As far as background and formal education, I have a couple of Masters degrees, several years of public school teaching andyears of college teaching experience. My postgraduate education instilled in me the desire and requisiteskills to teach myself, and the need and necessity of continuing my education. I am entirely self-taught as an artist. My teachers are the two thousand books on photography in my personal library (of which close to nine hundred are signed by the photographers).

I hope with this broad background, I can draw on my skills to provide you with a mutually worthwhile experience. 

The famous American fashion photographer Richard Avedon’s quotation has become a by-word of the cult of portraiture:

“ A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he is being photographed and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he is wearing or how he looks.”


I believe in the Art of Conversation. Our first meeting will be spent discussing a variety of topics including, but certainly not limited to: The Zen of Quality. The Relevance of Historical Photography in Contemporary Society. Defining Portraiture. The Portrait Sitter’s Perspective. Ambient and Artificial Lighting. What Poses Work and Why. What Poses Don’t Work and Why. Photographing the Nude. Model Etiquette. Model Releases. Books on Photography. And more. 

The foundation of our experience is the fact that we are both photographer and subject every time we snap the shutter. In my capacity of Team Leader I have proposed three different experiences that I think would be useful to enhancing your portrait skills:

One: Whether you are behind or in front of the camera, the awareness of the process of taking the portrait inevitably alters the picture being taken. All of us take pictures; few of us enjoy the process as a sitter. Our first exercise will be to explore the ramifications of that experienceusing each other as subjects. Each of you will be asked to take a portrait of each of the participants. If there are 6 of us, we will each take six portraits the first day we are together. I want to you get the feel of both taking and posing for pictures. I want you to develop your people skills of interaction and communication. I want you to actively enlist the aid of your sitter in constructing an image in which your subject is a necessary element in the composition of the environment you choose to photograph.

We will review your portraits in a critique session that evening and compare (and contrast) your experiences and imagery. 

I will introduce the activities of the day to follow:

Two will be spent honing your skills on the unsuspecting. Attired in PV t-shirts identifying us as PV photo participants, we will venture into Milford, a marvellous little tourist town over the PA line from PV. We will arrive early, have coffee in my favourite coffee shop, and then spread out throughout the town. You will have the assignment of approaching strangers on the street and in the shops, introducing yourself, and convincing them that they should allow you to do a formal/informal/candid portrait then and there in the open. AND, in exchange for the promise of sending them a copy of the photo, you will obtain a signed model release from each of your subjects. MAKE SURE you bring business cards with you.

We will review your portraits in a critique session that evening and compare (and contrast) your experiences and imagery.

I will introduce the activities of the day to follow:

Three: Ah, the bugs of summer! Well covered with anti-mosquito spray, we will venture into the woods and meadows of Peters Valley and photograph our subjects in the nude. No, we won’t be nude; the subjects we will be photographing will be nude. Our hosts have graciously arranged for both a male and female model (or two) to join us for several hours in the early dawn, far from the prying eyes of birdwatchers, casual strollers and the Authprities, who have a natural dislike for anything out of the natural social order of things. You will work with each model, then work with the combination of the two models all the while incorporating elements of the natural environment of PV as you find it.

We will review your portraits in a critique session that evening and compare (and contrast) your experiences and imagery.

Richard Avedon again:

“A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as accuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the Truth.”

I look forward to the truthfulness of your imagery.

And yes, all formats are welcome. Use whatever medium you prefer. Be comfortable. Do your best work.

I look foreword to an interesting several days together.

Herb Ascherman




By Car

This is the easiest way to get to Len's Studio.  There is plenty of free parking nearby.


By Public Transport

Catch a train from Central station to Katoomba and stroll down the hill in a couple of minutes to our studio. The train trip from Central station takes about 2 hours.


By Plane

Catch a plane to Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney. From here you can catch the airport train to Central Railway Station and then the Blue Mountains train to Katoomba. 




10 photographers

Minimum 4 bookings is required for this workshop to proceed.



  • Camera (film & digital cameras welcome)
  • A variety of lenses (50mm or 85mm or 135mm recommended - or 28-105mm & 70 - 200mm zooms), Len shoots with a 50mm & 135mm primes
  • Tripod
  • 16 prints or digital files of your portraiture photographs for Herb & Len to critique
  • Your laptop or pad and processing software



  • Shoots will be mostly natural light, indoors and outdoors depending on the weather.
  • All six lunches lunches
  • Morning and afternoon tea (snacks and drinks)
  • Photographic prints of your work from the week
  • Herb & Len will provide constructive critiques of your work
  • Photographic tuition and mentoring



There are many varied accommodation venues in Katoomba, from caravan parks and camp grounds, through back packers, and B&B's to amazing exclusive hotels.  All within a short walking distance from our Waratah Street Studio.  Here are some convenient suggestions to suit any budget.

OUR RECOMMENDATION (the closest & consistently gets the best feedback from other clients)

Katoomba Town Centre Motel

Book directly with them and save 10% on your booking when you tell them you are a Len's School client - We will provide a discount voucher while you are here.

Click here to visit their website or phone  +61 2 4782 1266

CLOSEST ACCOMMODATION (within easy walking distance - maximum five minutes walk):

ACCOMMODATION A LITTLE FURTHER (moderate walking distance 10 - 20 minutes)

If you would like more advice about accommodation, please contact Len for a personal recommendation.

Shoot with professional models and create stunning images under the careful guidance of Len Metcalf



  • Transport to and from the venue
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfasts or Dinners (we will go out for dinner as a group one or two evenings which will be an extra cost)



Click here to read Len's testimonials.




NB: Full payment is required 8 weeks prior to the workshop.

Click here to see full Terms and Conditions




“You’ve got to live right, too. It’s the way you live that predisposes you to avoid the traps and see the right facts. You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy – make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally. That’s the way all the experts do it. The making of a painting or the tuning of a motorcycle is not separate from the rest of your existence. If you’re a sloppy thinker the six days a week you aren’t working on your machine, what trap avoidances, what gimmicks, can make you all of a sudden sharp on the seventh? It all goes together.

Photograph Copyright © Herb Ascherman

But, if you’re a sloppy thinker six days a week and you really try to be sharp on the seventh, then maybe the next six days aren’t going to be as sloppy as the preceding six. What I’m trying to come up with…I guess, is a shortcut to living right.

The real cycle you’re working on is the cycle called yourself. The machine that appears to be ‘out there’ and the person that appears to be ‘in here’ are not two separate things.

They grow toward Quality or fall away from Quality together.”

- Robert Pirsig

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance; An Inquiry into Values


Substitute the word photograph for motorcycle and you have a perfect formula for the Zen of Right Living: the state in which you can create, produce and appreciate Right Photographs.

All photographs above Copyright © Herb Ascherman


Photographs Copyright © Len Metcalf