Native Arabic Speakers: Program for Narrative and Documentary Practice, Level 1 PNDP.1.005

From: September 29, 2023
To: December 22, 2023
Application deadline
Sunday 20th August 2023 23:59PM EDT
12 weeks
Class size
Scholarship eligibility
VII Academy will accept 10 participants who are native speakers of Arabic.
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I grew up knowing that my body is not mine; it is my families, and then my future husband. Thus it was my duty to protect it. "Chastity" is a word I kept hearing since I was born until the suitable groom arrives. I grew up with these ideas growing inside. Today I am not the same person. I am a 40 woman who travels and deals with men everywhere. ©Amira Mortada for VII Academy


Over a period of 12 weeks this tuition-free interdisciplinary seminar, led by Ali Arkady, will equip you with the necessary tools to produce photo essays suitable for publication in an editorial context.

During the seminar, you’ll explore how to develop a lasting career in visual storytelling, including conceiving, researching, and planning project ideas. You’ll be exposed to confronting ethical challenges as you navigate the moral maze of documenting the lives of others.

Problem-solving assignments will help you to unlock ways to work intuitively, intellectually and emotionally, so that your journalism becomes more instinctive, powerful and subtle.

Expect a transformative experience, where your current way of working will be challenged and refined through a series of lectures, group discussions and critiques, and assignments.

The first half of the course covers basic concepts to ensure a strong practical and theoretical foundation and concludes with a short photo essay. The second half advances to a higher level and includes business concepts relevant to freelance journalists, multimedia training, and presentation skills.


Each week will begin with a lecture on a relevant concept in photojournalism and documentary practice. This lecture will be given by the tutor or a guest with high-level experience in the topic being discussed.

After this lecture, the tutor will brief you on the assignment, due before the following week’s class. The assignments represent key subjects and approaches in narrative photojournalism and documentary photography.

During weekly feedback tutorials, you’ll present your work for discussion with tutors and other students. Everyone is expected to contribute to the critique of each student’s work. You will also be encouraged to work in pairs or small groups outside of the feedback tutorials to edit and critique each other’s work.

You will need to identify and research ideas for short and longer projects that should be local to you and allow for repeated access through the program. Find subjects that fascinate you and make sure that you can get access to. The deeper your connection to the subjects you photograph, the more effective your journalism will be.


This seminar will develop your ability to work on short photo essays in an editorial context. It will help you to:
* Respond professionally and creatively to photojournalistic briefs;
* Shoot single documentary pictures and picture stories or series;
* Edit your work;
* Work to a deadline;
* Professionally present yourself and your work to an editor;
* Develop the social skills needed to get access to people at work and leisure and get permission to photograph them;
* Understand the visual potential of ideas / situations you are researching;
* Produce short time-based media for clients.


Although some of the first half of the program’s topics and assignments may initially appear too basic to a more experienced photographers, our advanced alumni found that doing the assignments helped them to become more thoughtful practitioners.

Participants will be assessed at the halfway mark of the course and any who do not show commitment will be asked to leave.

Only participants who have completed Levels 1 and 2 with a passing grade may apply to attend Level 3, an intensive 4-week program held at VII Academy’s Alexandra Boulat Campus in Arles, France or Sarajevo, Bosnia.

Although Level 1 programs are offered in some cases in languages other than English, it is necessary to achieve at least a B1 level in English to attend Levels 2 and 3. Please refer to our English language resources for further information. 

Apply Now

Eligible applicants (see details at the top of the page) who wish to be considered for acceptance to this tuition-free program should complete the application form linked below. Please register for AwardForce, then select the name of this program.

Application deadline: August 20, 2023 at 2359 EST.


Ali Arkady, an Iraqi photojournalist, artist, and filmmaker, fled Iraq with his family in 2017 after documenting Iraqi armed forces committing war crimes. Despite this, Arkady continues his artistic and photographic work, focusing on human rights and social justice issues. His work includes photography, art, and documentary and fictional films, all aimed at raising awareness about global concerns. Currently, he is developing new projects centered on displacement, migration, and the struggles of refugees, utilizing his artistic talents and field experience to share compelling stories.