The Life That Remains: Photographing America’s Rural Spaces

From: June 15, 2019 @ 00:00 EDT
To: June 21, 2019 @ 23:59 EDT
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Instructor: Danny Wilcox Frazier
Locations: Mexico, Missouri
Cost: Free to Scholarship Recipients
Duration: 7 Days
Class size: 8
Skill level: Advanced Amateurs & Professionals
Scholarships: Yes


The VII Foundation invites photographers with strong connections and commitment to rural issues, both in and outside of the United States, to join Danny Wilcox Frazier for a documentary workshop in small-town America. The weeklong program is tuition-free and funded by the VII Foundation and VII Academy to support photographers from low-income communities as well as those working on issues about underrepresented populations. The workshop is limited to eight photographers.

The workshop will take place in Mexico, Missouri (pop. 11,500). Mexico, like many cities in the Midwest, is a town built on a small industry that no longer exists there. Two brick manufacturers employed several thousand workers, but now, long after both businesses closed, the community is economically depressed. Over 22% of the population lives below the poverty line, along with nearly 29% of children and 70% of mixed-race residents. The workshop will not shy away from the struggles many residents in Mexico face, but will also emphasize the perseverance and strength that the town’s residents have long shown. Small-town America is full of life, a perspective often lost in oversimplified views from the outside.

This is an intense, immersive shooting workshop that will push participants beyond current skills in both shooting and editing. You’ll produce an in-depth photo essay over the course of the week. The thrust of the workshop will be to help you bring a unique personal voice to your project, and take home a new way of seeing not only your own work but also the world of documentary photography. Danny will lead you through the necessary and rigorous steps of research, pre-planning, building relationships, ethical issues, and visual approaches. The experience will instill strong technical skills to transform photographs from single images into photographic series. The workshop will also teach the fundamentals of visual literacy and how to use photography as a tool for social justice.  


Semi-professional and professional photographers who have shown a strong commitment to photojournalism and can demonstrate a focus on rural issues are welcome to apply (please include a portfolio of such work in your application where you asked to provide photographs).

Apply for Scholarship


Day 1:

8am-12pm: Introduction to workshop and confirmation of project approach

12 pm to dark: shooting begins

8pm: instructor presentations

Day 2-6:

Shooting begins at sunrise (morning shoots daily)

10am – 2pm: editing and one-on-one critiques

2pm – dark: Field Work

8pm – 11:30pm: Group critiques

*Group critiques are required nightly unless shooting

Day 7:

8am – 4pm: editing and sequencing session, and preparation for public screening

7pm: Public screening followed by Q&A with participants


  • Flights: St. Louis Lambert International Airport, Kansas City International Airport, Columbia Regional Airport, Des Moines (Iowa) International Airport
  • Cars: All participants must have a personal vehicle or rental car.
  • Hotels: There are low-priced hotels in Mexico, MO as well as a couple of B&B’s.