I had the pleasure this past spring to spend a week studying with Jay Maisel at his mansion/studio in Manhattan. Jay is considered to be one of the top 20 most influential photographers by Photo District News. He’s in good company with people like Avedon, Cartier-Bresson, Albert Watson, and more.
Jay’s advice to come well rested was fitting. Spending 5 more than full days learning from him, experiencing his work, practicing, and receiving his critique was amazing. His mansion studio drew me in warmly, and then became a comfortable, safe place to taste a lifetime of compelling art. Deeply experiencing the very heart and soul of a working photographer’s world changed my relationship to my photography, and rebooted my life in some ways.
Wood, steel, terrazzo, stained glass … everything with the patina of years of experience, the soul of the studio made it easy to let my guard down, and really hear what he had to say. In this place, anything but Jay’s complete honesty would feel wrong. I LOVED it when, presented with one of my images from the day before, he said “Ok … now you’re just yanking my chain”. He always seemed to know exactly how to be hard, compassionate, and humerous, and his love of the art form shows through.
Breaking bread with my class and our teacher was an important, and obviously well considered aspect of the week. The places we experienced were beautiful not only for their menus, but for their light and vibe also. These times were a chance to absorb a part of lower Manhattan history and culture in a way rarely experienced by so many visitors.
Jay and his team made me feel like this was my home. Each of them shared their knowledge and experience generously and genuinely. I will never forget.