Bookmaking Online Masterclass with Philip Blenkinsop & Daniel Schwartz

From: May 19, 2020
To: June 23, 2020
6 weeks
Class size
Scholarship eligibility
Worldwide|Worldwide non-G20
Additional info

Group presentation language: English (German/English are also possible and French and Thai are manageable).

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The workshop addresses the critical period between the last phase of a photographic project and the moment when you decide to look for a publisher. In other words, the period when you need to exercise the author’s authority but still want to listen to those with experience in making books.

At times, this period can be marked by mental exhaustion, self-doubt, and disorientation — all of which, per se and in the realm of a book especially are not negative emotions. Nothing you had envisaged in the field seems to work when projected onto pages. The best images, or those which you deem to be the best, prevent you from seeing the ones that matter. Gaps yawn in the narrative, and nothing is at hand to bridge them. 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 — a perspective not always within reach.

Photographer, designer, and editor are different callings, and as a photographer, one is not necessarily the best editor of one’s own work. A myriad photographers wander the streets, with great work waiting to be published, however, not every body of great photographs makes a seminal book.

Consequently, with the end goal being the ‘photo book,’ we will, as our starting point for the workshop, discuss the most critical issues —  i.e., the motivation for and the raison d’être of the book, its timeliness, function, and audience; the publisher’s role; the impact and legacy of the book.

Subsequently, the conceptual, practical, and creative questions will be addressed — including the narrative, page architecture and design, formatting, layout, and typography. Finally, and because there are as many avenues toward a book as there are authors, the workshop will address authenticity and authorship.

The practical side of the workshop is reserved for the maquette (or: dummy) and its ‘making-of.’ Participants will work with existing bodies of work or those close to completion.

The workshop aims to define a book that transmits the author’s narrative to the viewer and is in itself an adequate three-dimensional representation of content and proposition.

For the full schedule of the course, please visit this page on VII Interactive.


Schwartz and Blenkinsop, fastidious book fetishists and friends since their first serendipitous meeting on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City in 1993 are the embodiment of Yin and Yang.

Numerous are the times their paths have overlapped since, many times unwittingly so, as the two have crisscrossed their adopted frontiers, Schwartz with his meticulously planned ‘expeditions’ and Blenkinsop, (as Schwartz is fond of pointing out) in the manner of a flâneur.

Indeed there are 180 degrees of separation between their approaches and the images that result, and yet, as if by some small miracle, the visual language they share is of the same tongue and sentiments; their motivation, born of the same spore.

So it should come as no surprise to anyone, that as teachers they are as complimentary as bread and butter or gin and tonic.

It makes damn good sense and it makes for a wonderfully rounded and anecdotal experience.


Philip Blenkinsop (England/Australia 1965)

In 1989, carrying two Leicas and a large cardboard box full of film, Blenkinsop arrives in Asia.

He embraces its all-consuming chaos, the violence and the beauty that lurks beneath, the armed struggles being waged on forgotten fronts, on distant hilltops and in the remote jungles of South-East Asia; From East Timor to Nepal.

His experiences define him and in time it becomes his world.

With this, comes proximity to the people he documents, empathising to the point of assimilating the injustices suffered.

“To photograph rage, I must feel that rage. To photograph loss, I must try to feel the weight of that loss as if it were my own to bear.”

“A man of guerrillas and of resistances”, (Herve Le Goff), and “one of the most essential photographers of his generation” (Christian Caujolle), Blenkinsop’s  uncompromising vision and commitment to the region has given birth to a contemporary body of work, at once remarkable and unparalleled.

A member of l’Agence VU from 1997 to 2007, Blenkinsop was one of the founding members of the prestigious Noor Photo Agency. He is an Honorary Fellow of Falmouth University in recognition of his services to photojournalism.

In 2009, acclaimed film director David Bradbury released his 70-minute documentary on Blenkinsop and his work entitled “My Asian Heart.”

Monographs include The Cars That Ate Bangkok, (White Lotus 1997) and Extreme Asie (Nathan/Delpire-Photopoche).

Major awards include the Felix H Man Prize for his work on the suppression of the Pro-Democracy Movement in Thailand, The Grand Prix Photo Jean-Louis Calderon for his reportage on ethnic cleansing in Borneo, The Nuit des Yeux d’Or, the Prix Scam ‘Roger Pic’ and Amnesty International’s Award for Investigative Journalism for his expose of the ‘Secret War in Laos’ and three-time recipient of the Visa d’Or for his work on Laos, the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami and the Great Sichuan Earthquake.

Blenkinsop sits on the advisory boards of the Program for Narrative and Documentary Practice at The Institute for Global Leadership, Tufts University, USA and Photo Kathmandu Festival in Nepal.

In 2018 he joined VII Photo Agency.

Daniel Schwartz (Switzerland 1955)

Schwartz studied Photography at the Zurich School of Art and Design [today ZHdK] (1977–1980).

From 1990 to 2005 he was a member of DU magazine’s editorial staff and a regular contributor of this prestigious Swiss cultural magazine (est. 1941).

In 1987/1988 Schwartz became the first foreigner and photographer to travel along all known sections of the Great Wall of China to be reached (The Great Wall of China, Thames & Hudson, 1990; rev. edition 2001).

His reportages in South and Southeast Asia’s deltas between 1991 and 1995 (Delta: The Perils, Profits and Politics of Water in South and Southeast Asia, Thames & Hudson, 1997) were an early photojournalistic investigation into the habitats endangered by the consequences of climate change and made him twice a finalist of the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography (1993 and 1995).

From 1996 to 2007 Central Asia, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, was the focus of the book Travelling through the Eye of History (Thames & Hudson, 2009).

In 2009 Schwartz returned to the subject of climate change and begun to document the global melt-down of glaciers. While the Fires Burn. A Glacier Odyssey (Thames & Hudson, 2017) leads from the relics of Holocene glaciation in Switzerland into the milieu of the Anthropocene, to collapsing glaciers on three continents.

The glacier project was featured in the film “Beyond the Obvious. Daniel Schwartz. Photographer” (2018) about the artist’s life and work.

As a photographer, Daniel Schwartz has had numerous solo exhibitions, from the Kunsthaus Zurich (1986) to the Photographers’ Gallery, London (1990), from the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2011) to the Grisons Museum of Fine Arts, Chur, Switzerland (2018).

Schwartz’s work has also featured in many group shows including at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, Arles (1988), the Fotomuseum Winterthur (1997), the Venice Art and Architecture Biennales (1993 and 2004) as well as at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2011).

In 2017 he joined VII Photo Agency.

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Eligible applicants who wish to be considered for a VII Academy scholarship should complete the application form linked below. Register with Award Force, select the category “VII Interactive” and then “Bookmaking Online Masterclass.”

Scholarship application deadline: May 15, 2020 at 2359EST

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For those who wish to guarantee themselves a spot, you can participate through a paid placement via the VII Interactive website.

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