This three-day workshop with Philip Blenkinsop and Daniel Schwartz in Sarajevo addresses the critical period between the end of a photographic project and the moment when a designer genius embarks on squeezing your images and vision into a book that will neither make you proud nor rich, or when an artist-turned-curator hijacks them to illustrate his agenda. In other words, the period when you need to exercise an author’s authority but still want to listen to those with experience in making books and exhibitions. Generally, it is a period marked by mental exhaustion, self-doubt, and disappointment. Nothing you had envisaged in the field seems to work on pages or walls. Your “best” images prevent you from seeing the true good ones, and there are gaps in the narrative which you are not able to bridge. You stare at your work and your work stares back at you. You are locked in a struggle that is neither stalemate nor armistice. What you need is a breakthrough! To see your work from the outside. But how to achieve this perspective? Moreover, not every great photographer is the best editor or curator of her/his own work.
Sometimes it is hoped that a book will make the author immortal, while exhibitions by nature are transient. Errors committed in a book can stick with you forever. Errors committed in an exhibition might challenge a reviewer, but you will survive.
Myriad photographers wander the streets with great work waiting to be published or exhibited. However, not every body of great photographs makes a lasting book or a seminal exhibition. Consequently, this workshop, while discussing the possibilities regarding the presentation of your work both on pages and in space, will ask critical questions:
- Why, in the first place, make a book or an exhibition?
- If you can choose, which should it be: a book or an exhibition?
- When should you think about a book or an exhibition?
- What are the motivation and raison d’être of a book or an exhibition?
- Will it be a book or an exhibition that flatters your ego or that makes an impact?
- Do you envisage a book or an exhibition before you set out to take the photographs?
- Or do you want to turn an existing body of work into a book or an exhibition simply because you want to move on?
- Who will publish the book? Who will host the exhibition?
- Who is your audience?
Once these fundamental questions have been answered and the urge for a book or an exhibition persists, there will be the practical and creative questions to be addressed including:
- Must there be a narrative and if so, what?
- What are the elements of a book dummy (maquette) and how do you create one?
- How do you conceive an exhibition? What are its components?
- For design and curation, do you look for outside expertise or do you go down the path of solitary confinement?
- Do you proceed precisely, like an architect, or wildly, like a drunk? At which point do you look for help?
Finally, there are as many avenues towards a book or an exhibition as there are authors. Hence, the ultimate question that the workshop will be dealing with concerns authenticity.
Participants are expected to bring existing bodies of work or work in progress, photocopies or prints of the images considered, flat plan sketches and drafts of book dummies or maquettes (a requirement), graphic materials like (cardboard, glue, ruler, etc.). During the workshop you will spend time moving pictures around on cardboard spreads on the desk and floor rather than by scrolling through InDesign files — and by studying and discussing selected books and exhibition catalogues.
“Philip, for the first time in my life, during your workshop I could say yes to Photography with my entire heart & soul” — Habiba Nowrose
“Philip’s words and images have opened my eyes.” — Fabio Bucciarelli, Robert Capa Gold Medal recipient
“Philip, you are an inspiration and you know how precious (and rare) it is to be around inspired, talented and genuine people. Thank you for taking the time to understand where I am today with photography and leading me to take the next step with thoughtful and implementable guidance. It has been a fascinating week upon which I believe I will build for the rest of my life.” — Patrick Firouzian
“Philip, a special thank you for putting me in a position to understand a lot of technical things, framing, shooting and use of the 35mm, but most of all, thanks for showing me the most important things you have, your human side, your motivation in teaching and last but not least to make me better understand the value of a word; one of those words that everyone uses and profers, but none or very few apply in life. Ethics. Thank you very much. For me this is the beginning of a new path. I’ll try to stay focussed and make use of your teachings. This is one of those life experiences that I will treasure.” — Roberto Bianconi
“I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed and appreciated your time with me last week. The editing session you did with Sara [Terry] was fantastic. I felt honored and happy that you put so much energy and thought into your deliberations. I learned so much over that time.” — Jonathan Dayman
“Thank you one more time for your advice and all your kindness. I enjoyed listening to you and I will remember it for a long time. I admire your work, I particularly like From Burma Road to Wall Street. You are a great photographer but above all great, sensitive human being.” — Malgorzata Hryniszyn
Terms & Conditions
Please read our Terms & Conditions and Cancellation Policy carefully before enrolling in a workshop.
Eligible applicants must be citizens and residents of the following countries: Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Albania, Greece, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia.
Applicants who wish to be considered for a VII Foundation grant to attend this workshop should complete the application here. Scholarship applications are now closed. Applicants will be notified by April 15, 2019.