Rick Sands: Breaking the Light Barrier

Wednesday, August 23 – Sunday, August 27, 2017
11:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., all days

Aperture Foundation
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor
New York

Gregory Crewdson, Untitled, 2004; from the series Beneath the Roses


I always call him “the genius of light.” He puts all of the lighting scenes together. He thinks differently than everyone else I know. He just responds to light. It’s remarkable.
—Gregory Crewdson on Rick Sands

Join master illuminator Rick Sands for “Breaking the Light Barrier,” a five-day workshop for photographers who would like to improve their understanding of lighting—from conceptualization through execution. For nearly twenty years, Sands has created elaborate lighting for the narrative photographs of artist Gregory Crewdson. The class will cover varied philosophies of lighting technique, working under a wide range of conditions (day and night interior), and studying separation through use of contrast via luminosity and chroma. The class will also cover practical aspects like scheduling and budgetary concerns.
        Over the course of five days, “Breaking the Light Barrier” will cover contextual light, interior lighting, exterior lighting, and project flow as separate units of study. Each unit will be comprised of conceptual overview, study of examples, equipment demonstration, training exercises, and experimentation. Students will be asked to complete daily assignments, in and out of class. Additional concepts reviewed will include motivation of light, the study of ambient light, light plots, the importance of time-of-day, the set environment and its effect on lighting.
        Participants will then form teams to produce projects employing the techniques covered by the curriculum using stand-ins as models. The main objective of the class is to create and extend a lighting vernacular that allows you to design and execute diverse projects. Participants will gain comfort and confidence, enabling them to work adeptly throughout the lighting design process.

To read more about the workshop and to see work made by previous workshop participants, check out the Aperture Blog.

Rick Sands is a film technician whose roots are in cinema production. His portfolio includes over forty theatrically released motion pictures with directors such as Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola, forty-seven television movies, and countless one-hour television episodes. His work in advertising has won him several ADDY awards. Through his unique collaboration with Gregory Crewdson, Sands’s lighting has been featured in many books and several international exhibitions.


  • walk away with a clear understanding of different lighting techniques including contextual light, interior lighting, and exterior lighting
  • understand how to use various lighting and photography equipment
  • Conceptualize and create unique lighting situations

Materials to bring:

  • DSLR camera with manual control and a tripod, or comparable equipment.
  • Laptop with a photo-processing program is also recommended but not necessary.


Currently enrolled students and Aperture Members at the $250 level and above will receive a 10% discount, please contact education@aperture.org to receive the code.

Tuition for this five-day workshop is $950 and includes light refreshments for all days. Lunch will not be provided.



If you would like to be put on the workshop waitlist, please contact education@aperture.org.



Please refer to all information provided regarding individual workshop details and requirements. Registration in any workshop will constitute your agreement to the terms and conditions outlined.

Aperture workshops are intended for adults 18 years or older.

If the workshop includes lunch, attendees are asked to notify Aperture at the time of registration regarding any special dietary requirements. Please contact us at education@aperture.org.

If participants choose to purchase Aperture publications during the workshop they will receive a 20% discount. Aperture Members of all levels will receive a 30% discount.



Aperture reserves the right to take photographs or videos during the operation of any educational course or part thereof, and to use the resulting photographs and videos for promotional purposes.
        By booking a workshop with Aperture Foundation, participants agree to allow their likenesses to be used for promotional purposes and in media; participants who prefer that their likenesses not be used are asked to identify themselves to Aperture staff.



Aperture workshops must be paid for in advance by credit card, cash, or debit card. All fees are non-refundable if you should choose to withdraw from a workshop less than one month prior to its start date, unless we are able to fill your seat. In the event of a medical emergency, please provide a physician’s note stating the nature of the emergency, and Aperture will issue you a credit that can be applied to future workshops. Aperture reserves the right to cancel any workshop up to one week prior to the start date, in which case a full refund will be issued. A minimum of eight students is required to run a workshop.



Please act responsibly when using any equipment provided by Aperture or when in the presence of books, prints etc. belonging to other participants or the instructor(s). We recommend that refreshments be kept at a safe distance from all such objects.

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