Night Portraiture in Catskill

Skills Series Night Photography Workshop

Master the fundamentals of night portraiture with our expanded five-night workshop. Mash up night photography with classical portrait lighting to create dramatic long-exposure portraits. Level up your creativity and craft.

Workshop Gallery

photos © Matt Hill & Tim Cooper

Workshop Details

October 29-November 3, 2020

This is a 5-night, 6-day workshop. Your adventure begins on the morning of October 29 and ends after a final slideshow on the afternoon of November 3.

$2,450 + applicable taxes. Register below.

Skill level

This is an advanced workshop that combines night photography, portraiture and lighting techniques. See “What You Should Know” below for more details.

Class size

8, with 2 instructors — 4:1 ratio

Workshop Leaders

Register Now

  • Deposit of $500 is required to reserve your spot at the workshop.

  • Balance of $1,950 due on July 31, 2020.
    Pay balance here.

  • You may choose the “Pay in Full” ticket if you desire to pay all at once.

  • Last day for a cancellation request is July 30, 2020 (see cancellation and refund policy).

  • The workshop fee does not include transportation to and from Catskill, lodging or food.


The Workshop Experience

Making portraits at night is complicated. But Matt and Tim will break it down into simple, repeatable steps. By the end, you will be confident that you can approach any night scene and say to yourself, “Yeah, I can make a gorgeous/creative/fantastic portrait right here.” 

The workshop will take place both in studio and on location. When we begin, you will be practicing how to combine all the steps you’ve learned about night photography with basic portrait techniques. Then we’ll turn up the heat and add on the lighting, motion blur, ghosting and proper lighting ratios. You won’t believe what you can achieve in six days.

Our locations may include historic areas in the Hudson Valley and the Catskill region, including:

  • sculpture gardens

  • castles

  • famous viewpoints

  • water views of lakes and rivers

  • forests

  • mountains

There will be one male and one female model for you to work with three of the five workshop nights. It’s important to know how lighting each differently can affect the emotional qualities of the portraits, and we’ll share techniques for that too.

What You Should Know

Participants must be confident and experienced with their night photography skills—i.e., they must know their cameras well, and be comfortable shooting RAW in manual mode with a DSLR or high-end mirrorless camera.

  • Attendees must have taken at least one prior NPAN Passport Series workshop or equivalent elsewhere.

  • You must know how to focus, compose and expose at night, as we will not be teaching basic night photography.

If you feel like you qualify for most but not all of the above, we strongly recommend signing up for private tutoring with Matt or Tim prior to the workshop so you have the best possible experience upon arrival.

What You Will Learn

We want you to really stretch on this workshop. You should be ready to truly get outside your comfort zone. Experiment. Work fast, and learn to embrace the variables. Turns mistakes into successes. And focus on forging a bond with your models--not to take a picture, but to create a story together.


  • posing

  • blocking & positioning

  • portrait lighting techniques

  • choosing the right light sources

  • using the right light shapers for effective and creative lighting 

  • lighting ratios

  • portraits with star points and star trails

  • getting artistic with light painting and light writing with portrait subjects

Matt and Tim will teach their methods for properly planning and managing all light sources, determining exposure, and deliberately adding time dilation and a little chaos to make night portraits.

Night photography experience is absolutely necessary. People with extensive experience shooting at night will still find this class challenging, stimulating and inspiring. There will be a portfolio review, as well as specific challenges and goals.

If you also have experience photographing people, it’s a big bonus. It’s not required, but it certainly will help you achieve results faster.

While in the field, the instructors will demonstrate their own techniques and will work with participants one-on-one to make sure everyone gets the most out of the workshop. 

During classroom sessions, there will be presentations by the instructors, but we will focus on developing your images and sharing everyone’s work and ideas with each other. Each day will have a review of the previous night’s work.

The workshop is limited to eight participants. This will allow each participant ample time with both the models and instructors.

Night & Light Conditions


If you are interested in sharing a car rental, let us know and we will try to connect you with someone in the group. We wholeheartedly encourage carpooling!

You can also travel by train via Amtrak to Hudson, New York, and take a cab 12 miles to Catskill Village. Or there are bus lines from Port Authority in New York City to Catskill.

Nearby Airports:

  • Albany International Airport (ALB) — 45 minutes

  • Stewart International Airport (SWF) — 1.25 hours

  • All major NYC airports—Newark (EWR), LaGuardia (LGA) and JFK — 2 to 3 hours (by car)


Food & Lodging

There is no official workshop hotel. Upon registration, however, you will be sent a list of nearby lodging options.

If you are interested in sharing lodging (including some of the fantastic whole-house Airbnb locations in the area), let us know and we will try to connect you with someone like-minded in the group.

Catskill has many food options. We encourage eating two meals per day—a good breakfast and a great late lunch. When on the night shoots, you may wish to bring snack food or a sandwich and plenty of water.

You are responsible for arranging and paying for your own meals and accommodations.


Expect daytime highs in the 60s F, lows in the 40s.

Catskill weather can be unpredictable. We’ll update you as the workshop gets closer.

Recommended Attire

Comfortable, dark clothing and layers. Shorts and short-sleeve shirts for daytime, light pants and long-sleeve shirts for night. A sweatshirt and medium-weight jacket will likely be useful, and a base layer might not be a waste of packing space. Layers are good. Comfortable and protective shoes are recommended for getting around.


No vigorous activity will be required during the workshop, but please consider your physical abilities prior to registering. There won’t be any long hikes, but there will be trails and boardwalks involved, and you should be comfortable carrying your own equipment over uneven ground in the dark.

Please read our FAQs section for more information about skill and gear requirements, and other information that pertains to all our workshops.

If you have questions, please contact us—we're happy to talk it over with you.


Overcoming ...

I found ways to set up the shoot for success while leaving some portions wide open for chance, luck and inspiration.
— Matt

How do I overcome the fear that I cannot do it?

One day I asked myself, “What if I combined the two things I love making the most—night photography and cut paper art?” The answer came immediately. “Dress people in paper and make crazy, surreal long-exposure portraits of them. And yes, they will be naked under that paper.”

And so Night Paper was born. Now, for the rest of the story …

I was terrified to start the project. I had more questions than answers. And I was primarily a landscape/urban photographer at the time.

  • Who was I to undertake such an ambitious project?

  • How do I make sure I get a good exposure of the model and the background?

  • Who would say yes to such an insane idea?

  • Will they think I am a creep?

The questions beleaguered me. I put off starting the project for over four years.

But one day I started. I said to myself, “You know a lot about portrait lighting, silly. And you’re making images you really love at night. So what if you haven’t made a paper outfit? (Or any fashion, for that matter?)”

And it worked. I was so happy that I kept on shooting. I dreamed up even more complicated lighting schemes, developed new ways to show the passage of time. I even studied how to make it a part of the portraits without making it an overwhelming part. I found ways to set up the shoot for success while leaving some portions wide open for chance, luck and inspiration. I built a collaborative spirit with my models, assistants and my wife (who helps me on every Night Paper shoot).

And it keeps on working, getting better as I hone my craft. And it makes me very happy.

I’m delighted to package all the lessons I’ve learned while making my artistic vision come to life, and share them with you. And hopefully, I can help you identify and define the start of your own vision of what night portraiture can be. Join us, and let’s find out together.

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