Parker J Pfister Photographer

Portraits of Alternative Thinking (Badlands)

A photographic workshop focusing on experimental portrait photography and

voice lessons for the photographer.

"Parker doesn't just change the way you shoot, he changes the way you think. About everything". -James C.

Interior, SD| May 8-12, 2023 | 5 days|4 nights | $3600| 10 seats

When I was a kid, every time a new copy of National Geographic’s signature yellow framed issue came in the mailbox, I’d study its glossy pages, wows or ohhhs escaping my lips. Everything was magic. The process, the subjects, the moments.

For years, I dreamt of becoming one of those photographers behind those images. I imagined myself traveling all over to witness the wonders of the world, to feel — and then document — the joys and pains of our multicultural world. Its life and its death. And not a single image altered, doctored or embellished.

In my mind, this purity was my target. I longed to become part of this world-changing, authentic tribe of artists.

But over time, with the pressures of career, money and the American way, I fell into wedding and portrait photography. And I did what most photographers do: I focused on amassing the best gear, acquiring the most renowned subject, showing up in the right place at the right time (luck), and, worst of all, always looking outwards to see what others were doing.

Photographers would look at my work and say, “Man, your lighting! Your Photoshop skills! Your technique!”

That’s when I realized I’d missed my target entirely.

My work had become slick.




One day, I couldn’t take it anymore. That afternoon, I tasked myself with a new project: to personify the wrenching pain I’d inflicted on myself from trying to become who I thought I was supposed to be.

From that day on, I gave myself absurd assignments, assignments that would most likely fail but would fuel my creative fire.

And fail I did, over and over. But I felt life in my images again, while simultaneously learning how not to do it.

After that, nobody else’s opinion mattered anymore. No awards, no contests, no accolades. These images were truly just for me, for me to learn about myself, my community, and my world. They were how I made order out of chaos. They became my interpreter of the world we live in.

And it worked. I started to feel a pride in my work that I’d never experienced before, not because my technique was perfect, but because I was doing work that felt vital, life-changing.

For the last three years, two of my images have been touring around the world in between Sebastiao Salgado, a prolific documentary photographer, and Steve McCurry, one of the most highly regarded National Geographic photographers in the world. Together our images have reached millions, creating a visceral experience of what climate change means to us and to our homelands.

I haven’t made any money from it. And I haven’t won any awards. But I’ve had the chance to speak to more than three million hearts, to help them feel the precious and precarious beauty of our world.

And, more important, it’s become my mission and my passion to teach others what I taught myself:

A great photograph is more than a pretty picture.

A great photograph begs more questions than answers.

A great photograph should not only be seen but deeply felt.

A great photograph has story running deep through its layers.

A great photograph is determined by YOU and therefore a great photograph can be created by YOU.

A great photograph changes the course of history. Whether it is your history, the history of one person or the history of the world.

This is your value. This is your task. This is your time.

Isn’t it time to make your photographs include a part of you? Isn’t it time to find your authentic self?

I will answer for you.

We need you.
The world needs to feel what you are hiding behind those photographic tricks.They are begging for depth. They are begging for connection. They are begging for the authentic you. We all want to feel what you see, NOT what you have already seen.
So, I invite you to join this workshop where Parker J Pfister will lead an expedition into your head, heart and gut in a surreal landscape with one common goal: to unlock your creative force and make imagery of your dreams.

This workshop is squarely directed at any photographer that is tired of making imagery that is defined as a pretty picture.

If you want more meaning from your images — and from yourself — step up. This is your time to rise.

This is your time to show the world something new...YOU.

This is your opportunity to find your unique voice.

You will leave knowing you are creative.

You will uncover the path to your why.

You will leave understanding your artistic translators.

You will leave understanding your own creative process.

You will leave able to self inspire.

This workshop IS NOT for those that want a vacation. Go on a cruise;-)

This workshop IS NOT for portfolio building. Go to another workshop;-)

An investment of $3600 includes your lodging, model fees, location fees, artisan breakfast, lunch and dinners.

*Your retainer of $1000 will reserve your space in this workshop. The balance of $2600 will be due 60 days prior to the workshop date.

This workshop will be limited to 10.

Both Film and Digital are welcome.

Models will be with us to personify your dreams.

More details . . .

You will be staying at an amazing guest ranch/working cattle ranch!! Fly into Rapid City, rent a car, and be there in an hour or so. Fly into Sioux Falls, rent a car and be there in 4.5 hours. Or make a road trip out of it and drive from where you are!

Monday is check in/ meet and greet, preview of the week and a welcome dinner. Show up around 4pm.

The rest of the week will be similar to below but will be custom created as we go and as the participants needs arise.

Tuesday is the heart and gut day. With my belief that the camera gets in the way of the photographer and the photographer gets in the way of the artist, you will set aside your camera to discover your unique purpose for pushing the shutter button.

Most of this day, you will be digging deep in your soul to uncover your dreams, creative process, and the path to your own why.

Continuing throughout the week, I will be helping you create an image of story. A story you will create through our process of deep self discovery.

Wednesday & Thursday are head heart and gut day! Up early clickin’ to get the good light. Afternoon reset/ breakout sessions, followed by evening light goodness. These days will be filled with the goodness of Tuesday’s heart explorations and you WILL see a difference in the work you create.

Friday morning we will gather for review. Farewell to your new tribe of courageous creatives at 12 noon.

About the instructor:

Parker Pfister is an artist, a teacher and a mentor. He creates stories using photography and film as his translators. He is an avant-garde director of photography and photographer based out of Asheville, NC, and traveling often. His capacity to not only navigate and embrace any given situation, but to own it and make it speak is what distinguishes him from others. Parker has been a creative process educator for 19 years and photographing for over 35 years. His work has shown in Paris, Mexico City, Rome, Bangkok, and, most recently, Bologna, Italy.

Sign up HERE!

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What past attendees are saying!

"When you know how to use the gear in your hands, but over time, the gears in your head have locked up. Parker J Pfister takes you apart piece by piece, before the workshop even begins, and rewires your brain so that the gears in your head work the gear in your hand in a whole new way!" Kim D.

"Parker reminded me that photography is an art form, not just a service I provide."
-Clare B.

"I have never been to a workshop where it was not about the instructor but it was truly about me. I have never had an experience before or since quite like it. I learned to embrace me and my own path and make peace with it in a way that it began to show up in my work like never before. It was life changing and career changing. It was the best gift I could have ever given myself." -Cindy S.

"This workshop was the catalyst in our business that propelled us in a direction that separated us from the rest of the photography crowd. Rather than Parker just teaching you how he does what he does or how he shoots the details and bride and groom, he teaches you how to shoot in a way that makes it completely you, and in doing so you find your voice and your work becomes a representation of your soul. This Workshop was the best money we have ever spent on our business and is one of the biggest reason our work stands out the way it does, ultimately leading to bookings and finding the right clients for us!" -Devin R.

All Images from previous Parker J workshops.