One on One Mentor



—with Adam Marelli 

Has your photography hit a rough patch?

Do you feel like you could be a better 

photographer, but you are just not sure 

what to change?  This One-on-One 

program was designed to give you a 

confidence, authority, and flexibility to 

progress to the next level.  


© Adam Marelli

Finding Our Way

Lets face it, we love photography but sometimes it can be immensely frustrating.  We spend hours on websites, forums, and galleries hunting for the solutions to our photographic problems.  Wouldn’t it be nice if every time you picked up your camera, you could know for certain that you were going to make good pictures?  I believe you can do just that.  There is no recipe for making a world famous photograph, but you can learn how to make consistently solid images.  This way, when the critical moment arrives, you know exactly where to position yourself, what to focus on, and how to shoot a scene.

Through the One on One course Marc was able to dedicate himself to improving his images and hit rate. The images have dramatically improved and given him a clearer vision of what he wants to shoot in the future. © Marc Erwin Babej

Your World View

The ONE on ONE Program is a school of photography instruction tailored to your specific interests and needs.  The lessons are formulated to cover your favorite artists and photographers.  Over the years, I encountered photographers who did not want to wait for workshops and wanted private instruction right at home.  This led to the creation of the One-on-One program that can be taught over Skype or if you are in New York City, at my studio or your home.

What can you expect…
The first question people always ask me about the One-on-One program is,

“How long will it take before I notice a difference?”  

The answer is simple, you will SEE differently after the first two hours.  Depending on how much time you can devote to the assignments, your pictures will look noticeably different after two sessions.  In ten sessions we can fully rearrange and enhance the way you take pictures.

The difference between this program and other photography schools is that my primary focus is improving how you see, not how to fix mistakes in Photoshop.  The best way to improve your image is to take command of the picture as it enters your camera.  Post production is helpful but it will never allow you to reach the next level.  The very best post production technicians I have come across in New York City, are not photographers.  There is a reason for this.  Vision is the responsibility of the photographer (thats YOU.)

Together, we will review your photographs and study the lessons of Master Artists and Photographers to give you a step by step approach to making better images.  This is a private tour through the magical (and I don’t use that word lightly) world of Art & Photography.

Marc wanted to improve his ability to take group portraits in remote settings. He grabbed this one in Burma recently. © Marc Erwin Babej

Examples of lessons

  • Crowded Compositions: Michelangelo’s lessons of composing groups of people
  • Full Frontal: Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and the frontal portrait
  • Show Up: Robert Capa on making history when there is poor light
  • The Working Man: Sebastião Salgado finding Aspective Views of People


© Adam Marelli

How does it work

The One-on-One’s are available weekly, bi-weekly or monthly depending on each of our availability.  If you have an assignment, a big trip, or a project in mind, we can fast track the lessons to send you off with all the tools you will need to meet success head on.  And photographers in Australia & Asia can take advantage of my early morning hours for sessions.  (I wake up at 4:30am, so the first slot available is 6:00am EST about 8:00pm in Sydney).

How do I sign up?
You can sign up via Paypal for one of the (4) options:

  • One hour review 195 USD
  • Single Session, (2) hours 390 USD
  • Five Sessions, (10) hours 1,755 (save 10%)
  • Ten Sessions, (20) hours 3,315 (save 15%)

Sign up today!

Contact us today to sign up:

Rammy knew that there were good pictures all around his native city of Bangkok, we just had to teach him how to see the lessons of design. © Rammy Narula


The key to improving your photography is practice.  Practice and repetition are not the same thing.  A world class athlete does not simply repeat a movement.  They break down the mechanics, slow down the speed, practice step by step components under the watchful eye of a coach, refine the technique in a training ground and then explode into the world.  During each session you will be given a new assignment to reinforce the principles and examples we discussed.  It is supremely helpful to have a teacher who can:

  • Identify your strengths (everyone has something they do well)
  • Spot your weaknesses (without the ego bruising)
  • Design exercises to fit your personal development (education, as it was intended)
  • Push you to exceed your expectations (you can make better pictures, even in your own back yard)

After working together Charles images became more moody and atmospheric. The most exciting part was that he was in total control of the feel of his images. © Charles Kalnins.


Students work have been featured in the following publications:

  • Editor’s Picks National Geographic
  • Der Spiegel
  • La Repubblica
  • Huffington Post
  • Rear Curtain
  • LFI Magazine
  • Doc! Photo Magazine
  • Camera Obscura
  • Shots Magazine
  • Prix de Paris
  • Lenswork
  • Leica Camera Blog
  • Art Photo Feature

Charles wanted to work on the portraits he enjoyed taking while traveling for work around South East Asia. © Charles Kalnins


Charles the Engineer
When Charles started with me, he had been photographing for a number of years.  His early work as an engineer took him through South East Asia and Indonesia.  The goal was to improve his environmental portraits because he felt like the images were at a plateau.   His regular travels to Asia presented the perfect opportunity to practice the lessons.  By focusing on composition, lighting, and subject position he was able to transform his portraiture and explore new ways of documenting his growing relationship with the people he meets along the way.


Cyrus the Barrister (thats the fancy British name for lawyers)
Street photography is Cyrus’s main passion.  Whether he is on the road or at home in London, he is fascinated by the developing scenes of everyday life.  After taking Jay Meisel’s Workshop (two times) we started working together.  My goal with Cyrus was to clean up compositions to make them more powerful and explain what to look for in a  moving scene.


Marc the Strategy Expert
Marc and his wife are both avid photographers who love to travel.  Between African Safaris and their new favorite spot Burma, Marc thought his images needed a push.  Since he wanted to photograph a variety of portraits, animals and cityscapes, we broke down the classes into sections.  Each of the lessons dealt with the topics so he could build on previous exercises.  The results speak for themselves.  He has been published in over twenty publications and is now represented by two galleries.  He can confidently make strong images where ever he travels and is continuing his exploration of what is possible.  (and against all estimations he switched from shooting almost all color, to all black and white).


Rammy, the self professed newbie
After only one year of photography Rammy joined the One on One program after we worked together in my Bangkok Workshop.  He goals were to become good enough at photography that he cold publish his work.  Even though he did not want to be a full time photographer, he wanted to prove to himself that he could cut it with professionals.  After a few sessions Rammy’s work was featured in National Geographic as Editors selections (twice!), he received a solo feature in Rear Curtain magazine and has gone on to garner attention on a number of websites across Southeast Asia and Europe.  All of that with no art school education or expensive tuition.  Just good old fashion hard work mixed with precise training were able to transform Rammy’s work.

Rammy wanted to get away from the “Mug Shot” which is so played out in street photography. His goal was to capture more atmospheric portraits, exactly as he found them. © Rammy Narula

20 ways your photography will change after ONE-on-ONE’s

  1. You start noticing visual relationships that you had never seen before.
  2. You walk around with one eye closed and the other squinted (watch for curbs.)
  3. You can now explain why you like a picture so much and why it works.
  4. Conversely, pictures that are not working are no longer a mystery.  The failures read immediately.
  5. Dominant directions will stand out all over the place.
  6. The camera will start to feel like a tool and not a precious piece of jewelry.
  7. Your lens fetish will finally be laid to rest, because lenses are only as good as the brain behind the camera.
  8. Color straight out of a camera looks like a box of crayons.
  9. You realize software designers never studied color theory (Sorry Adobe.)
  10. Museums will come alive as if you were on LSD.  There are more secrets buried in any major museum than one photographer could use in a lifetime.
  11. The Master Artists WERE much better than you thought.
  12. You will take less pictures, even in digital, because knowledge and restraint go hand in hand.
  13. Photographers you once admired seem boring and artist you never considered absolutely blow your mind.
  14. What popular photography books won’t teach you about composition and design.
  15. Cartier-Bresson interviews will finally make sense.
  16. You will see that Cezanne was a genius, Pollock was a hack.
  17. Originality, while not entirely impossible to achieve, is no longer the goal of photography.
  18. Understanding is more valuable than sensationalism.
  19. The distinction between a “Study” and a “Copy” becomes clear in your mind.
  20. You take your first GREAT picture.

A real turning point for Marc was when he started to observe light as the main subject. This was a coastal sunrise in Burma. © Marc Erwin Babej

The Studio

Since I opened my studio in 2010, it has been an immense pleasure working with so many wonderful photographers.  Our mutual love of the visual language brings a natural vitality to the photography experience.  One of the things I enjoy most about teaching this program is the excitement that photographers experience when the “lights go on.”

Unlike math or biology, which require hours of memorization, once you “See It,” the material is yours forever.  The fundamental way in which you view the world will open up.  When you are ready to dive head first into your own work, drop me a line and I would be happy to set up a session for you.  This is the best investment you can make in your photography because unlike your camera, you will never become obsolete technology.

Contact us here to sign up: 

Charles also wanted to work on natural light portraiture. He wanted to be able to find studio quality lighting anywhere in the world. © Charles Kalnins.


From Thailand:

“Before making great photographs, you need to learn how to see.  A workshop with Adam does just that.  Opening you up to a unique comparison between art and photography, you will learn to see the scenes and how to take photos that read like a beautiful painting.  The theories and concepts will be mind blowing for beginners and and may leave you totally dazed before you realize the way you see has totally changed and your photos that much more meaningful.”

Rammy Narula

From Canada:

“Photography started as something that wasn’t a serious hobby for me, but rather a way of passing time.  How could it be anything more? I grew up under the understanding that I wasn’t that talented in the visual arts as I didn’t possess the required “eye” to be successful and therefore couldn’t make works of art or appreciate the works of others.

One fateful day I was browsing the Internet one evening searching for photography sites to read when I stumbled across Adam’s site.  I started reading his great compositions series and was astounded by the structure, organization and geometry that the master’s works possessed under the surface.  I was so fascinated I ended staying up all night reading. At the end Of my marathon visit to his site I just had to reach out to Adam.  He had had ignited a fire of curiosity inside of me that needed quenching.  I decided to just take a chance and email him introducing myself, my story, and ask if he taught these concepts.  To my surprise he emailed back with one of the best responses I have ever received.  He was so humble and friendly I just knew he would be the right teacher. 

After our correspondence I started our 1 on 1 lessons without many expectations but much excitement. He had asked for 10 images to get an idea of my strengths and weaknesses.  I sent them over quite confidently only to get shredded in our first lesson.  Not in a negative discouraging way though.  Adam offers excellent critiques pointing your strengths and all the weaknesses.  he always makes sure to explain what you could have done to avoid the mistakes you made.  His biggest gift is his ability to inspire you to want to do better and fix your mistakes.

Each lesson is focused on a specific skill.  It starts with an explanation of the concept.  You then review how the skill is utilized in sculptures and paintings and discuss its effectiveness.  Only then does he move to emphasizing this concept in the works of master photographers.  The lesson ends with an assignment to work on the presented concept.

The lesson doesn’t end there though,  after the lesson is over and you are working on your assignment Adam always graciously makes himself available to review an image or two and provide direction and help steer you to success on the assignment.

I can tell you that my photography has improved leaps and bounds from my time working with Adam (I hope he would agree too :) ). That isn’t the only benefit though, I now have a much bigger appreciation for the visual arts as I have learned some of the language and concepts and can better understand the artists intentions in creating it.  The only warning I would give is lessons with Adam will make you stop frequenting the online photo forums as you will start to see all the poor composition choices made.”


Aaron Offord

From Australia:

The one on one sessions with Adam have been amazing!  My first lesson was in late April 2011, just over 2 years ago.  Adam started with reference books and programs for design, elements and the various root rectangles.  This has helped me immensely in seeing lines of different ratios and how they relate to pleasing designs.  Up to then, I had heard of the Phi ratio and thirds for composing, but I found without the added depth they did not work well for me. 

Adding the sophistication of the root rectangles, lines and curves, and the relationships gave a whole new of critiquing and “designing” my own shots while I had the subject and composition in my view finder.  This has changed the way I visualize compositions and take shots.  Many thanks to you, Adam!”

-Charles Kalnins

© Adam Marelli

From the US: 

“A couple of months ago I came across a wonderful lecture on B&H Photo lecture series, given by a classically trained draftsman, engineer and artist named Adam Marelli. It was an eye opener for me. It served as an excellent and powerful introduction into the world of classical art and how it relates with photography.  I was so impressed with Adam’s style of speaking and teaching, and with his background that I started scouring   I found out that aside from his worldwide workshops, Adam offers one on one live training via the web, through email and Skype.  I decided to take a little chance and splurge for a 2 hour session with him.

I can tell you that I was not disappointed. Artistically and photographically speaking my money was well spent. I also feel like I’ve made a friend in Adam. 

So what was it like ?  We coordinated on a time,exchanged Skype IDs and Adam called me. I sat in my home office and spoke with Adam as if he were in the room with me. Even better in a way, because he was also able to present slides to display on my screen, email me photo examples and other materials while we were conversing.  The modern day classroom in all it’s glory <grin>.

What about content ?  Well there was plenty of that. Adam has been taught in the time honored way of Master and Apprentice, with artistic concepts, truths, guides and shortcuts being handed down verbally from Teacher to Student. Let me tell you, Adam is not stingy with the information he passes on to his students !  But this was in no one way a canned or structured lesson plan. It was tailored in the moment to me !

Before the session  Adam scoured my website and accessed my skills and growth. He showed up with examples of my work to use  as a jump off point.  He had immediate suggestions for me on how to improve the artistic content of my images. They were spot on point !

After an enjoyable 2 hours together, not only did I come away with plenty of food for thought and notes, I had a folder full of examples of works that were used as examples and I had a mission. I was given homework to do that was meant to help me put into practice what was shown to me.  I think I learned as much or more from that one session with Adam than I’ve learned in the last 5 years of shooting and reading web, books and forums. 

Will I be taking more lessons from Adam ? You bet I will.  Do I want desperately to go on one of his Workshops ? Oh yeah! 

Sorry this was a bit long winded of an testimonial, but feel lucky, I could say a lot more. Adam is the real deal. Get to know him a little and I’m sure you’ll agree.”

–Flyod Wellershaus

From Germany: 

“I approached Adam to tutor me after reaching a point in my photography where I was technically very adept, but artistically immature.  My images were well exposed, sharp, correct DoF, well lit – but somehow they just didn’t excite or engage the viewer.  Something was missing, but what? Design.

Adam has an engaging, motivating personality which is only surpassed by his deep knowledge on the subject.  Our Skype sessions (I’m EU based) have been like chatting to a friend about my images, a very knowledgeable, supportive and guiding friend.  Adam doesn’t couch the knowledge in mystique and secrecy, he presents it unambiguously – then allows you to work it into your images at your own pace.  It changes the way you view things through the viewfinder.

I would, and do, heartily recommend either the one-on-one sessions with Adam, or alternatively one of his regular workshops around the world.”

-Duncan Bell

Marc travelled on safari annually and never felt like he got the right picture. But after a few months of One on One, he returned to Africa for his most successful shoot to date. The animal and ariel shots were featured in a number of publications. © Marc Erwin Babej

From Venezuela:

“I always felt that my pictures were lacking something, they were missing a “wow” factor; it’s hard to explain, but except a few ones, I was not satisfied with my pictures. It was not the technical aspects, I had learned those many years ago. I ventured into reading composition books written by photographers, but they left me in the same place, they provided me basic information, but they all followed a similar pattern, disconnected chapters about lines, colors, shapes, etc. that did not provide me a comprehensive and reasoned approached to composition. About this time is when I found Adam through his website. Immediately I became very curious about his approach to composition, his articles were inspiring and made a lot of sense, but I felt I needed more to satisfy my curiosity.

This is when I decided to start one-on-one lessons with him. We have been working together for 9 months now. Meeting sometimes in person when I travel to New York or over Skype when I am not there. We even had one-day workshop in the fall to walk in New York after Sandy taking pictures of the street scene.

It has been a wonderful experience, right from the start his approach made total sense; composition in photography should start from the lessons of classical painting; why waste centuries of learning in an art that was the precursor of photography in many ways. His teaching has been an eye-opener for me and my photography has substantially improved. I am learning how to see, I am framing carefully, choosing better backgrounds and I am stating to see geometry all around me! He has given me the tools to study and understand the composition of great photographers and even of the great painters; it is all there, we just have to learn to see it. Learning from Adam wonderful experience that has given me a new dimension to photography and has given me a lifelong challenge to enjoy.”

-Gonzalo Rodriguez Matos

Together we worked on anatomy and lighting lessons that transformed his portraits. By applying these simple techniques we were able to watch each series successfully evolve. © Charles Kalnins


Who Joins?

My students range in age from 19 to 70.  Its never too early to begin or too late to start.

Do I need Skype?

Yes.  The download is free and it allows us to screen share during lessons.

How do I sign up?

You can sign up via email at

  • One hour review 195 USD
  • Single Session, (2) hours 390
  • Five Sessions, (10) hours 1,755 (save 10%)
  • Ten Sessions, (20) hours 3,315 (save 15%)

How long do I need to schedule in advance?

This is a one man school, so I ask that people contact me at least two weeks before they would like to have a session.

What if I need to cancel?

If we have a class scheduled, please cancel 48 hours in advance for a full refund or to select another date.

Can you help me with my camera?

Yes, if you have questions about how to operate your camera or find that pictures are soft or out of focus (especially for rangefinder users) we can fix this.

Do you speak any languages besides english?

Yes, I am learning Italian, but I am not good enough to teach in anything other than english.

Does it matter what photography I want to make?

No, it does not matter if you are into street, landscape, portraits, nudes, architecture…and the list goes on.  The Principles of Design, which I teach, apply to all types of image making and will be useful to any scenario.

Is there anything I can do, in advance, to get the most out of the One on One’s?

If you have not seen Myron Barnstone’s “DRAWING DVD’s” I highly recommend them.  While they are not a mandatory requirement, they are an excellent resource for any photographer.  And for people who want to work in color, his COLOR COURSE is the single best resource for color theory I have ever found.

Contact me here to sign up: 

© Adam Marelli


 Posted by at 2:28 am

  8 Responses to “One on One Mentor”

  1. Are these reviews etc in NYC? In person? I live in Bayonne, NJ and am frequently in Manhattan on business. i shoot mainly medium format using Carl Zeiss Jena lenses and the Pentacon Six system. For 35mm, I second another blogger in touting the beauty of the Yashica Electro 35 lens. Your comments concerning passion in art echo my own thoughts, expressed a little differently. My emotional background is classical music. Thinking of how Beethoven can make one jump out of their seat and challenge the Heavens lead me to another conceit on this: Art is Controlled Passion.

  2. Hi Adam,
    I just read your piece about photographing strangers and here is my struggle: I would never let someone take a picture of me, so I project that on them. if I wouldn’t be willing, then how can I ask someone else to be?
    I travel every week all over the country, so many opportunities!
    At 51 I want to communicate differently, I don’t know how to approach my position differently, so I maybe could approach them, the subject differently?

    I would love your insights..


    • Hi Rebecca,

      Thank you for the question…before we get too deep into things, why would you never allow someone you did not know to take your picture?

      Aside from photographing people around the world for the last 10 years, I always allow them to take pictures of me, if they want to. It is a fair trade. Is there some reason why you are not open to that idea?

      Based on your answer I can give you more specific feedback.


      • Hi Rebecca,

        it sounds like you answered your own question, which is both emotional and psychological, not so much photographic. But
        it is no less valid. I bet a lot of people ask themselves the same things.

        Do you ask people to do things we would not do ourselves? My guess is that if you want to connect and find a way to do it
        that is relatively comfortable for you, good things will come out of it. We are social creatures by design. It is usually
        events or circumstance that make us close down to other people. Hopefully you can build that back up again.

        I’ve always enjoyed the quote by Teddy Roosevelt:
        It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

        Good luck with it!


        • Adam,
          You nailed it, thank you for the beautiful quote, I appreciate your time and response.

  3. Hey Adam,
    Great and fair question.
    I am at a place in life where I feel extremely vulnerable and very private, so I think I am projecting that on others, perhaps misplaced:)
    I know this because there have been times when I would not have minded my photo being taken, in fact I may have wanted it.
    The struggle is I am feeling so compelled to connect with people through pictures. My job takes me everywhere around the country, so many people I meet, and I want to tell the stories.

    So that’s my answer, and it helped just hearing your approach, fair trade, that’s true, that was helpful.
    I really appreciate you responding, thank you!

  4. Adam

    I think it’s time. I’m life-long learner. This course work sounds challenging and engaging. Artistic development is my goal. I’m intrigued by compositional breakdown especially it’s application in a fast paced shooting environment (street). Been work on my garage studio and environmental portraits. Need more.

    Can I please have more details?


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