Presented by VII Interactive
Bookmaking Online Masterclass with Philip Blenkinsop & Daniel Schwartz

Project, Workshop in Online — May 19, 2020 until June 23, 2020

The Masterclass–which meets online–addresses the crit­i­cal peri­od between the last phase of a pho­to­graph­ic project and the moment when you decide to look for a pub­lish­er. In oth­er words, the peri­od when you need to exer­cise the author’s author­i­ty but still want to lis­ten to those with expe­ri­ence in mak­ing books. It aims to define a book that trans­mits the author’s nar­ra­tive to the view­er and is in itself an ade­quate three-dimensional rep­re­sen­ta­tion of con­tent and propo­si­tion.


Philip Blenkinsop and Daniel Schwartz


6 weeks

Class size


Apply until

May 15, 2020

Group pre­sen­ta­tion lan­guage: English (German/English are also pos­si­ble and French and Thai are man­age­able).



The work­shop address­es the crit­i­cal peri­od between the last phase of a pho­to­graph­ic project and the moment when you decide to look for a pub­lish­er. In oth­er words, the peri­od when you need to exer­cise the author’s author­i­ty but still want to lis­ten to those with expe­ri­ence in mak­ing books.

At times, this peri­od can be marked by men­tal exhaus­tion, self-doubt, and dis­ori­en­ta­tion — all of which, per se and in the realm of a book espe­cial­ly are not neg­a­tive emo­tions. Nothing you had envis­aged in the field seems to work when pro­ject­ed onto pages. The best images, or those which you deem to be the best, pre­vent you from see­ing the ones that mat­ter. Gaps yawn in the nar­ra­tive, and noth­ing is at hand to bridge them. You stare at your work and your work stares back at you. You are locked in a strug­gle that is nei­ther stale­mate nor armistice. What you need is a break­through, to see your work from the out­side — a per­spec­tive not always with­in reach.

Photographer, design­er, and edi­tor are dif­fer­ent call­ings, and as a pho­tog­ra­ph­er, one is not nec­es­sar­i­ly the best edi­tor of one’s own work. A myr­i­ad pho­tog­ra­phers wan­der the streets, with great work wait­ing to be pub­lished, how­ev­er, not every body of great pho­tographs makes a sem­i­nal book.

Consequently, with the end goal being the ‘pho­to book,’ we will, as our start­ing point for the work­shop, dis­cuss the most crit­i­cal issues —  i.e., the moti­va­tion for and the rai­son d’être of the book, its time­li­ness, func­tion, and audi­ence; the publisher’s role; the impact and lega­cy of the book.

Subsequently, the con­cep­tu­al, prac­ti­cal, and cre­ative ques­tions will be addressed — includ­ing the nar­ra­tive, page archi­tec­ture and design, for­mat­ting, lay­out, and typog­ra­phy. Finally, and because there are as many avenues toward a book as there are authors, the work­shop will address authen­tic­i­ty and author­ship.

The prac­ti­cal side of the work­shop is reserved for the maque­tte (or: dum­my) and its ‘making-of.’ Participants will work with exist­ing bod­ies of work or those close to com­ple­tion.

The work­shop aims to define a book that trans­mits the author’s nar­ra­tive to the view­er and is in itself an ade­quate three-dimensional rep­re­sen­ta­tion of con­tent and propo­si­tion.

For the full sched­ule of the course, please vis­it this page on VII Interactive.


Schwartz and Blenkinsop, fas­tid­i­ous book fetishists and friends since their first serendip­i­tous meet­ing on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City in 1993 are the embod­i­ment of Yin and Yang.

Numerous are the times their paths have over­lapped since, many times unwit­ting­ly so, as the two have criss­crossed their adopt­ed fron­tiers, Schwartz with his metic­u­lous­ly planned ‘expe­di­tions’ and Blenkinsop, (as Schwartz is fond of point­ing out) in the man­ner of a flâneur.

Indeed there are 180 degrees of sep­a­ra­tion between their approach­es and the images that result, and yet, as if by some small mir­a­cle, the visu­al lan­guage they share is of the same tongue and sen­ti­ments; their moti­va­tion, born of the same spore.

So it should come as no sur­prise to any­one, that as teach­ers they are as com­pli­men­ta­ry as bread and but­ter or gin and ton­ic.

It makes damn good sense and it makes for a won­der­ful­ly round­ed and anec­do­tal expe­ri­ence.


Philip Blenkinsop (England/Australia 1965)

In 1989, car­ry­ing two Leicas and a large card­board box full of film, Blenkinsop arrives in Asia.

He embraces its all-consuming chaos, the vio­lence and the beau­ty that lurks beneath, the armed strug­gles being waged on for­got­ten fronts, on dis­tant hill­tops and in the remote jun­gles of South-East Asia; From East Timor to Nepal.

His expe­ri­ences define him and in time it becomes his world.

With this, comes prox­im­i­ty to the peo­ple he doc­u­ments, empathis­ing to the point of assim­i­lat­ing the injus­tices suf­fered.

“To pho­to­graph rage, I must feel that rage. To pho­to­graph loss, I must try to feel the weight of that loss as if it were my own to bear.”

“A man of guer­ril­las and of resis­tances”, (Herve Le Goff), and “one of the most essen­tial pho­tog­ra­phers of his gen­er­a­tion” (Christian Caujolle), Blenkinsop’s  uncom­pro­mis­ing vision and com­mit­ment to the region has giv­en birth to a con­tem­po­rary body of work, at once remark­able and unpar­al­leled.

A mem­ber of l’Agence VU from 1997 to 2007, Blenkinsop was one of the found­ing mem­bers of the pres­ti­gious Noor Photo Agency. He is an Honorary Fellow of Falmouth University in recog­ni­tion of his ser­vices to pho­to­jour­nal­ism.

In 2009, acclaimed film direc­tor David Bradbury released his 70-minute doc­u­men­tary on Blenkinsop and his work enti­tled “My Asian Heart.”

Monographs include The Cars That Ate Bangkok, (White Lotus 1997) and Extreme Asie (Nathan/Delpire-Photopoche).

Major awards include the Felix H Man Prize for his work on the sup­pres­sion of the Pro-Democracy Movement in Thailand, The Grand Prix Photo Jean-Louis Calderon for his reportage on eth­nic cleans­ing in Borneo, The Nuit des Yeux d’Or, the Prix Scam ‘Roger Pic’ and Amnesty International’s Award for Investigative Journalism for his expose of the ‘Secret War in Laos’ and three-time recip­i­ent of the Visa d’Or for his work on Laos, the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami and the Great Sichuan Earthquake.

Blenkinsop sits on the advi­so­ry boards of the Program for Narrative and Documentary Practice at The Institute for Global Leadership, Tufts University, USA and Photo Kathmandu Festival in Nepal.

In 2018 he joined VII Photo Agency.

Daniel Schwartz (Switzerland 1955)

Schwartz stud­ied Photography at the Zurich School of Art and Design [today ZHdK] (1977–1980).

From 1990 to 2005 he was a mem­ber of DU magazine’s edi­to­r­i­al staff and a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor of this pres­ti­gious Swiss cul­tur­al mag­a­zine (est. 1941).

In 1987/1988 Schwartz became the first for­eign­er and pho­tog­ra­ph­er to trav­el along all known sec­tions of the Great Wall of China to be reached (The Great Wall of China, Thames & Hudson, 1990; rev. edi­tion 2001).

His reportages in South and Southeast Asia’s deltas between 1991 and 1995 (Delta: The Perils, Profits and Politics of Water in South and Southeast Asia, Thames & Hudson, 1997) were an ear­ly pho­to­jour­nal­is­tic inves­ti­ga­tion into the habi­tats endan­gered by the con­se­quences of cli­mate change and made him twice a final­ist of the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography (1993 and 1995).

From 1996 to 2007 Central Asia, includ­ing Afghanistan and Pakistan, was the focus of the book Travelling through the Eye of History (Thames & Hudson, 2009).

In 2009 Schwartz returned to the sub­ject of cli­mate change and begun to doc­u­ment the glob­al melt-down of glac­i­ers. While the Fires Burn. A Glacier Odyssey (Thames & Hudson, 2017) leads from the relics of Holocene glacia­tion in Switzerland into the milieu of the Anthropocene, to col­laps­ing glac­i­ers on three con­ti­nents.

The glac­i­er project was fea­tured in the film “Beyond the Obvious. Daniel Schwartz. Photographer” (2018) about the artist’s life and work.

As a pho­tog­ra­ph­er, Daniel Schwartz has had numer­ous solo exhi­bi­tions, from the Kunsthaus Zurich (1986) to the Photographers’ Gallery, London (1990), from the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2011) to the Grisons Museum of Fine Arts, Chur, Switzerland (2018).

Schwartz’s work has also fea­tured in many group shows includ­ing at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, Arles (1988), the Fotomuseum Winterthur (1997), the Venice Art and Architecture Biennales (1993 and 2004) as well as at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2011).

In 2017 he joined VII Photo Agency.

Apply Now


Eligible appli­cants who wish to be con­sid­ered for a VII Academy schol­ar­ship should com­plete the appli­ca­tion form linked below. Register with Award Force, select the cat­e­go­ry “VII Interactive” and then “Bookmaking Online Masterclass.”

Scholarship appli­ca­tion dead­line: May 15, 2020 at 2359EST

Enroll now

For those who wish to guar­an­tee them­selves a spot, you can par­tic­i­pate through a paid place­ment via the VII Interactive web­site.

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