Native Arabic Speakers: Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Seminar, Level 1

Core Programs, Seminar in Online — December 4, 2020 until February 26, 2021

Join Ali Arkady in this 12-week Level 1 Seminar pro­gram that has been specif­i­cal­ly adapt­ed to work­ing in a COVID-19 envi­ron­ment. It will equip you with the nec­es­sary method­olog­i­cal and prac­ti­cal tools for the research and pro­duc­tion of pho­to essays suit­able for pub­li­ca­tion in an edi­to­r­i­al con­text. You’ll progress from the shoot­ing of sin­gle pic­tures to the con­struc­tion of short jour­nal­is­ti­cal­ly dri­ven pho­to essays, explor­ing the rel­e­vant tech­ni­cal, aes­thet­ic and jour­nal­is­tic aspects. The sem­i­nar will also address issues of ideas gen­er­a­tion, research, cap­tion writ­ing, and pic­ture edit­ing. At the end, you’ll pro­duce an extend­ed, in depth body of pho­to­jour­nal­is­tic or doc­u­men­tary work that explores a sto­ry in detail.


Ali Arkady


Weekly ses­sions over 12 weeks

Class size


Skill level

All levels


The VII Academy will offer schol­ar­ships to 10 native Arabic speak­ers who are cit­i­zens as well as res­i­dents of–or refugees from–majority world coun­tries.

Apply until

November 22, 2020

An Iraqi air force helicopter strikes a target in Fallujah, Iraq on May 29, 2016. ©Ali Arkady / VII
An Iraqi air force heli­copter strikes a tar­get in Fallujah, Iraq on May 29, 2016. ©Ali Arkady / VII
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The VII Academy is tak­ing all its cours­es online for the fore­see­able future. We will resume res­i­den­tial cours­es at our cam­pus­es in Sarajevo and Arles when the envi­ron­ment is safe to do so. Access to our long term res­i­den­tial cours­es will be pri­ori­tised for stu­dents who have passed through Level 1 and 2 of our online sem­i­nars.

Over a peri­od of 12 weeks, this inter­dis­ci­pli­nary sem­i­nar will be led by pho­tog­ra­ph­er Ali Arkady and will be com­ple­ment­ed with a series of pre­sen­ta­tions by lead­ing indus­try pro­fes­sion­als.

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

Problem-solving pho­to assign­ments will help you to unlock ways to work intu­itive­ly, intel­lec­tu­al­ly and emo­tion­al­ly, so that your pho­tog­ra­phy 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 one-on-one ses­sions, group ses­sions, and online live webi­nar lec­tures.


Each week will com­mence 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 week­ly assign­ment that you will have to work on. The assign­ments will rep­re­sent key sub­jects and approach­es in nar­ra­tive pho­to­jour­nal­ism and doc­u­men­tary pho­tog­ra­phy.

During the week, you will work indi­vid­u­al­ly to pro­duce pho­tographs with­in week­ly dead­lines.

At the end of the week, dur­ing the week­ly feed­back tuto­ri­als, you will present your work for dis­cus­sion with tutors and oth­er stu­dents. Each group mem­ber will learn from the feed­backs for each student’s body of work. Everyone is expect­ed to con­tribute to the dis­cus­sion about 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.

The first weeks are tight­ly struc­tured with reg­u­lar assign­ments and feed­backs on your work. In the sec­ond half of the pro­gram, you will begin to shoot short pho­to essays of a few images, build­ing up towards a longer essay then a final extend­ed project to be pho­tographed and sub­mit­ted at the end of the pro­gram.

You will need to iden­ti­fy and research ideas for these short and longer projects that should be local to you and allow for repeat­ed access through the pro­gram. Find sub­jects that real­ly fas­ci­nate you and make sure that you can get access to. The more engross­ing you find the sub­jects you pho­to­graph, the bet­ter your pic­tures 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.


The tutor will adapt the pro­gram to the var­i­ous COVID-19 lock­down sit­u­a­tions that the par­tic­i­pants are going through in their respec­tive coun­tries and com­mu­ni­ties.
Not know­ing at this time who our stu­dents are, where they live, what their cur­rent sit­u­a­tion is nor how their respec­tive sit­u­a­tions will evolve over the com­ing weeks and months, we have thought of var­i­ous assign­ments and essays that can be devel­oped in full con­sign­ment as well as in less rigid lock­down sit­u­a­tions. Whatever the briefs, they will enable you to fin­ish the sem­i­nar with the method­olog­i­cal and prac­ti­cal tools that we’ve promised to bring you.



AliArkady_BW pic - Copy

Ali Arkady

Apply Now


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

Although the Seminar will be con­duct­ed in Arabic, our appli­ca­tion is in English. Please do the best you can and we will con­tact you to clar­i­fy any points if nec­es­sary. If you can­not com­plete the appli­ca­tion in English, please con­tact Ali direct­ly at [email protected] and cc [email protected] with your con­cerns.

Scholarship appli­ca­tion dead­line: November 22, 2020.

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