PNDP.1.014. Central and South America: Program for Narrative and Documentary Practice, Level 1

From: September 20, 2024 @ 10:00 EST
To: December 13, 2024 @ 23:59 EST
Application deadline
Monday 19th August 2024 23:59PM EDT
12 weeks
Class size
Scholarship eligibility
VII Academy will accept 10 participants who are citizens and residents of or refugees from Central and South America, as well as Mexico and Puerto Rico.
Additional info

This Level 1 course will be taught in Spanish

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A man who has been arbitrarily detained says goodbye to his son before entering the prison. "You take care of yourself, son," he tells him. ©Francisco Rubio for VII Academy


This tuition-free seminar, led by Leonard Carrato, will, over a period of 12 weeks, equip you with the necessary skills to produce photo essays suitable for publication in an editorial context.

The first half of the course covers basic concepts to ensure a strong practical and theoretical foundation and includes assignments to build a short photo essay. The second half advances to a higher level and includes business concepts for freelance journalists, multimedia training, and presentation skills. This material will be presented through a combination of lectures, group discussions, critiques and assignments. 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 ethical challenges as you navigate how to document the lives and stories of others. Problem-solving assignments will help you to unlock ways to work intellectually and emotionally so that your journalism becomes more powerful and subtle.


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

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

During weekly feedback sessions, you’ll present your work for discussion with the seminar leader and other students. Everyone is expected to contribute to the conversation. You will also be encouraged to work together outside of these sessions to edit and critique each other’s work.

You will be asked 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. The deeper your connection to the subjects you photograph, the more effective your journalism will be.


You can expect to spend at least six hours a week in Zoom classes/meetings and completing assignments. The online classes must be attended in person, and you are expected to participate. Some assignments may take much more time than others. This course is intended to help those for whom education in visual journalism is necessary to progress their career. It is not a resumé builder. 

Please do not apply for the course if you are currently enrolled in another education program.


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;
* Make single documentary pictures and picture stories or series;
* Produce short time-based media for clients;
* Edit your materials;
* Work to a deadline;
* Present yourself and your work professionally to an editor;
* Develop the skills needed to get access and permission to photograph people in different settings
* Understand the visual potential of ideas/situations you are researching;
* Enhance your ethical literacy


Although the topics and assignments in the first half of the course may initially appear basic to more experienced photographers, our advanced alumni have found that completing the assignments helped them to become more thoughtful practitioners.

Level 1 courses are the beginning of VII Academy’s educational pathway. To be considered for Level 2 courses, participants must obtain a passing grade in Level 1 to progress. Students who miss more than two classes will not receive a passing grade and will not be considered for Level 2. 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.

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


Chosen participants will be invited by email to register about two weeks before the class begins. Applicants who are not selected to attend will be notified once the class is full; this may be only a week before the class begins.

Tutors will hold the class at times according to their own schedule, and will accommodate participants’ schedules when possible. If you have a set work schedule, we invite you to let us know as early as possible.

Apply Now

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

Application deadline: August 19, 2024 at 2359 EST


Born in Minas Gerais, Brazil, in 1983, Leonardo Carrato threw himself into a photographic journey in 2012. Leo is based in Rio de Janeiro and works as a photographer and filmmaker.