My Experience as a student of Maggie Steber

7M5A1351BW© Herzen Cortes 2015


Recently I participated in Maggie Steber’s Mystery Photo Workshop in Miami as part of the Miami Street Photography Festival, a 5-day event sponsored and organized by Leica and Leica Akademie.


In my 8 years producing photo workshops I have been to many workshops and have known many photographers, I can say that this workshop was quite unique from its conception. It was not a workshop about creating great imagery or about creating a story, it was about unleashing our creativity to produce a body of work that would convey Mystery as a message, whatever that meant for each individual student (the mystery of love, the mystery of Christmas, create a murder story, be dark or wild…), or however each one of us interpreted Mystery. The only rule was that there were no rules, you could break them all!


Maggie, who was accompanied by Tom Smith from Leica Akademie, has taught this same workshop in the past. She has her own “Secret Garden” as she calls it (see:, where she gives free reign to her creativity. Maggie’s Secret Garden is a body of work created by her to be liberating for herself in many ways, and far from the public opinion.

7M5A1195BW© Herzen Cortes 2015

Throughout the workshop Maggie came across as a thoughtful leader, very passionate about the Mystery Workshop, well organized, straight forward and extremely focused in all matters of our photography as students. She took her time with each one of us individually to provide feedback and expert guidance; She was demanding and asked for all to work hard. The group editing sessions were a great learning experience as she kept pushing us to liberate from our usual, to be able to “See the World in a Different Way”.

The workshop was a thrilling experience. Amid the renown Art Basel Festival, exploring the city, the people and the possibilities during that week was really amazing and inspiring, every corner was full of possibilities but then again… it was not about simply creating beautiful pictures or portraying what anyone else could see… it was about creating imagery with Mystery written all over it… needless to say, many times I felt a bit frustrated, but encouraged by the possibilities Maggie had pushed me to discover.


7M5A0965BW© Herzen Cortes 2015


The workshop and the Miami Street Photo Festival concluded on a Saturday evening with lectures by Maggie and David Alan Harvey at the Miami History Museum in Downtown and the exhibition of the work of all students (Maggie’s and David’s).

We are honored to have Maggie amongst our Xperts for 2016. She will be leading our February Oaxaca workshop: Daring to See the World in a New Way and I am certain that she will be an exemplary instructor for intermediate and advanced photographers alike. She certainly has the character, the experience, the eye, the focus and the ability to mentor her students and to push them to liberate and to become much stronger photographers and to learn to see the world in a different way…. I certainly did and enjoyed it along the way!

7M5A1236BW© Herzen Cortes 2015

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