Pacific Digital Storytellers


September 12-December 5, 2022

12 weeks
Class size
Scholarship eligibility
Applicants must be an artist of Pacific Islands heritage, resident and based in New Zealand with experience in photography–full eligibility rules are found on the page linked by the "Apply Now!" button below and at the bottom of this page.
Mr & Mrs Ieremia share a moment to enjoy Sunday morning before leaving for church. ©Soteria Ieremia


VII Academy has partnered with Creative New Zealand to provide a program for ten Pasifika creatives from Aotearoa and Te Moana-Nui-a-Kiva. Over a period of 12 weeks, this interdisciplinary Level 1 seminar will be led by VII photographer Christopher Morris, who will be supported by Pacific photographer Raymond Sagapolutele. Lectures 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 online group sessions and live webinar lectures.

This programme aligns with the Pacific Arts Strategy 2018-2023, specifically the Tagata Pou, which looks to ensure Pasifika artists and arts practitioners are resourced to develop their practice and deliver outstanding work, and the Moana Pou – ensuring that Pacific arts are further enriched across Oceania and the globe.


Each week will commence with a lecture on a relevant concept in photojournalism and documentary practice. 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’ll work individually to produce photographs within weekly deadlines.

During the weekly feedback tutorials, you will present your work for discussion with tutors and other students. Each group member will learn from the feedback for each student’s body of work. Everyone is expected to contribute to the discussion. 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 feedback on your work. In the second half of the program, you will begin to shoot short photo essays of a few images, building up to a longer essay and 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.

Apply Now!

Pacific creatives are invited to submit an expression of interest by 5pm New Zealand Standard Time, Thursday, 26 August 2022 by filling out the form linked below. 


  • Applicants must be an artist of Pacific Islands heritage, resident and based in New Zealand with experience in photography.
  • Applicants must be New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.
  • Applicants who are in current default of any Creative New Zealand funding will not be eligible to apply.
  • Applicants must be able to meet on Zoom for a minimum of 4 hours per week for the duration of the 12-week program.
  • Shortlisted applicants must be available to attend a panel talanoa with team members on 1 September
  • Applicants must be able to meet in New Zealand Standard Time (NZST)
  • Program will be delivered in English.


Christopher Morris

Raymond Sagapolutele