Photo by Ziyah Gafic / VII

VII Summer School of Storytelling

July 6, 2018 – July 12, 2018

Instructors: Paul Lowe, Ziyah Gafic

This intensive weeklong workshop taught by Ziyah Gafic and Paul Lowe explores how to develop and refine a distinctive personal visual style and vision. It focuses on planning long-term projects, and how to conceive, research and fund them. It also focuses on developing one’s own individual personal visual style. Paul and Ziyah push the students hard to find what is truly their own unique photographic identity. They learn to conceptualize long-term projects, and how to work through the challenges that come with long-term work, including creative blocks and funding. They also learn when and how to include verbal storytelling as part of their visual work. During the workshop, there were problem-solving photo assignments to help unlock ways to work intuitively and emotionally, so that photography becomes more an act of creativity and less a matter of technology and intellect. The workshop includes two field trips, to Lukomir and Srebrenica, where participants experience shooting on location.

VII photographers left a lasting mark in the history of photojournalism with the work they produced during the war in Bosnia, making some of the most iconic images of 20th century during the conflict and its aftermath. Both tutors have lived and worked in Bosnia over the last 25 years, and between them have documented the war and post-war situation in depth from a range of perspectives.

Students and instructor Paul Lowe in Lukomir. Photo by Sulejman Bijedic

Bosnia is an emerging state still coping with the long term effects of devastating civil war that raged thru the country from 1992-1995. Despite the Dayton peace agreement signed in 1995 that guaranteed return of refugees and restitution of private property, ethnic tensions remain high and the international community remains a strong factor in maintaining a somewhat dysfunctional state. Although hardly visible the country remains divided along the ethnic lines. Bosnia is located in Southeastern Europe and its capital, Sarajevo is easily reachable from Western Europe or the USA.

Bosnia today offers unique insight in what civil war does to a secular, prosperous country.

The workshop includes field trips around the city of Sarajevo, and to the remote mountain village of Lukomir and to the annual commemoration of the victims of the 1995 genocidal massacre at Srebrenica.

The work of the two workshop grant recipients is exhibited below.

Marko Risovic

Marko was attracted to photographic exploration of reality in his early youth. After years of experimenting, he discovered narrative power of photography as a language of socially engaged communication. For six years, he was working as a photojournalist in different media outlets in Serbia. Later, he switched his interest to long-term projects about various aspects of social reality. World Press Photo organization selected him to participate in the Masterclass for young photographers from southeastern Europe in 2010. Marko’s work was published in different regional and international magazines and web editions, and presented in over fifty exhibitions.

Marko was born in 1981 in Belgrade, Serbia. He is regular contributor to National Geographic Serbia magazine, occasional contributor to The New York Times and member of Association of Serbian Applied artists and Designers. Marko established Serbian photo collective Kamerades together with 5 other photographers in 2011. His photographs were published and exhibited in the magazines and exhibitions in Serbia and beyond. He is an avid Instagrammer and cat lover. At the moment, his two children have the greatest influence on his view of the world.


Instagram: @markorisovic

“Sarajevo VII Masterclass was an overall great experience! Paul and Ziyah are great mentors and they managed to get the best out of each participant. We were a very diverse group, with photographers on different career paths and with different skill levels, but the workshop was prepared and balanced in a way that anyone could participate and make at least one step higher towards his own progress. Practical work in the field, both in beautiful and isolated village of Lukomir and in Potocari Memorial Center near Srebrenica, was very useful because it was putting participants into the real situation where they needed to produce meaningful work in a short period of time (and in case of Srebrenica in emotionally and ethically challenging environment), prepare it and present it in front of the others. This is a simulation of real life situation for any working photojournalist and it was a good training for people who are not used to it. Lectures were interesting and well structured. Paul and Ziyah are very skillful with words and they have a lot of knowledge from within the industry, which they are always willing to share. Additionally, the fact that we became very coherent and friendly group of people after relatively short period of time and despite all the differences in age or skill, in beautiful surrounding of Sarajevo town, contributed to a very positive impression about this workshop. I can highly recommend it to anyone who wants to improve himself in terms of his/hers documentary work, despite current career level.”

Marko Risovic

Sulejman Bijedic

Sulejman Bijedić (b. 1988) is a documentary photographer born in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He lives in Italy, where he came as a child when his family fled the conflict in Bosnia in 1993.

His interests focus mainly on how habits and culture define people of a nation, through the observation of individuals that with their motivations and choices are crafting their own reality in adverse political and economic circumstances.

In 2016 he went back to Bosnia and Herzegovina with the idea to explore and report up-close what the brutal war of the 90’s left behind. His journey in Bosnia culminates in the work “Odavle samo u harem – In memoriam Abdulah Boskailo”.

His work has been published by LensCulture, National Geographic, Open Society Foundations and 6Mois.

“Ziyah was of fundamental importance for my photographic training.

It was thanks to his guidelines that one of my projects took shape. Starting from my basic idea, Ziyah has been of great help identifying clearly what would have been the various phases of the work.

Subsequently, through several editing sessions, all the images were analyzed with care until the essence that I wanted to give to my work emerged.

In the end, the project received several awards and was recently published in National Geographic.

I recommend Ziyah to anyone who wants to approach photography from a more meaningful and professional point of view.

Sulejman Bijedic