Photography Atelier is a unique portfolio-building course for emerging to advanced photographers.  In addition to guidance and support in the creation of a body of work, the class prepares artists to market, exhibit and present their work to professionals.

In the Atelier, students may choose to photograph with digital media or film; use SLRs, plastic cameras, cell phones, and other methods for image capture and select from the range of options for image presentation.  Instruction in the Atelier includes slide presentations and discussions which consider contemporary trends in photography as well as the history of photography.  Assignments are designed to encourage experimentation in both subject matter and approach. Supportive group critiques help each participant create strong images as well as edit and sequence their work to produce cohesive portfolios. In addition, final formats such as photobooks, mixed and multi-media works and installations are encouraged.  Student work from each class appears in exhibition and on the Photography Atelier website:

The Atelier is designed to accommodate repeat enrollment as well as one time participants.  First presented by Holly Smith Pedlosky at Radcliffe Seminars in 1997 and taught by Holly and Karen Davis over the past fifteen years,  the Atelier is very happy to find itself at home at the Griffin Museum of Photography. Karen, Meg Birnbaum, course assistant, and Paula Tognarelli, Executive Director of the Griffin, each first encountered the Atelier as students in the class.

Instructor: Karen Davis

Karen Davis is a photographer, teacher and gallerist. She has taught photo-based and word-image courses at the Griffin Museum of Photography, the Seminar for the Arts Series, Art Institute of Boston/Lesley University, Lesley Seminars, Radcliffe Seminars, Tufts University and Suffolk University.

Her work is featured at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA),and the Boston Drawing Project/Caroll and Sons Gallery and in the collections of the Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW) at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, the Lishui Museum of Photography (China) and the Houghton Rare Books Library, Harvard University.

In 2009 she received the Artists Fellowship Award from the CPW and exhibited at the Lishui International Photography Festival, China, and the Bromfield Gallery, Boston, MA. In 2008 her series, “The McCann Family,” was exhibited at the Griffin Museum of Photography, and her book, “The McCann Family,” published by blurb, was selected as a “Staff Pick.”

Karen has been an invited reviewer of portfolios for the Griffin/PRC Portfolio Reviews, Critical Mass/Photolucida and FotoFest in Houston. She and her husband, Mark Orton, are co-directors of the Davis Orton Gallery in Hudson, NY.

Davis is co-director of the Davis Orton Gallery, Hudson NY.

Course Assistant: Meg Birnbaum

Meg Birnbaum is a fine art photographer and graphic designer. She has assisted Karen in the Photography Atelier for five years and adds immeasurably to the class. In 2009 they co-taught a class in how to make your own photography book online. She also taught illustration at Montserrat College of Visual Arts.

Meg has photographs in the permanent collection of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Texas) and the Lishui Museum of Photography (Lishui, China). She has had solo exhibitions in Kobe, Japan, Lishui, China, Hudson, New York and Boston, Massachusetts. In 2009 she was nominated for the Santa Fe Prize for Photography. Her work has been exhibited in many group show around the United States.


Laura Wolfe

Alan Strassman

Christy Stadelmaier

Ellen Toby Slotnick

Dianne Schaefer

Alice Shafer

Andrea Rosenthal

Linda Rogers

Richard Perry

Jane Paradise

Trelawney Goodell

Anne Diamond McNevin

Diane Davies

Nan Collins

Bob Avakian


Karen Davis

Course Assistant

Meg Birnbaum



Griffin Museum