South and Southeast Asia: Program for Narrative and Documentary Practice, Level 1

From: June 16, 2023
To: September 22, 2023
Application deadline
Friday 19th May 2023 23:59PM EDT
12 weeks
Class size
Scholarship eligibility
VII Academy will accept 10 participants who are citizens and residents of the following countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Borneo, Cambodia, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam. *Refugees from and within the region are also welcome to apply.
Additional info

Module 1: June 16 – July 21, 2023

Module 2: August 18 –  September 22, 2023

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Over a period of 12 weeks, this tuition-free interdisciplinary seminar, divided into two modules, will be led by Philip Blenkinsop. It 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 unlock ways to work intuitively, intellectually, and emotionally, so 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 Level 1 Seminar is split into two six-week modules. The first module covers basic concepts to ensure a strong practical and theoretical foundation and concludes with a short photo essay. The second module 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 photographer 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 Module 1’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.

Only those who achieve an A or B grade for Module 1 will be able to proceed to Module 2. Participants may only miss one class (excused in advance) and still proceed to Module 2. If an A or B grade is not achieved, in many cases it is possible to retake a module at a later date in order to improve.

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.

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.


Philip is known for his lifetime commitment to photographing Asia where he lived for 27 years and where he continues to work. He is a highly regarded educator and mentor to photographers from the region.