Sarajevo Seminar For Documentary and Narrative Practice 2021

Core Programs, Seminar in Online — January 15, 2021 until October 15, 2021

The VII Academy is pleased to announce the sec­ond Sarajevo Seminar for Narrative and Documentary Practice 2021 ded­i­cat­ed to young pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­phers from Central and South Eastern Europe.


Dr Paul Lowe and Ziyah Gafic


3 week-long ses­sions over 9 months

Class size


Skill level

Professionals, Semi-Professionals, Advanced


The VII Academy will offer schol­ar­ships to 15 par­tic­i­pants from the fol­low­ing coun­tries: Turkey, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Poland, Moldova, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia - Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Albania.

Apply until

January 5, 2021

Languages: This pro­gram will be con­duct­ed in English.

Lukomir. ©Ziyah Gafic / VII
Lukomir. ©Ziyah Gafic / VII


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.

Over a peri­od of nine months, this inter­dis­ci­pli­nary sem­i­nar will be led by instruc­tors Dr. Paul Lowe and Ziyah Gafic and will be com­ple­ment­ed with a series of ses­sions by lead­ing jour­nal­ists, design­ers, writ­ers, edi­tors and pho­tog­ra­phers.

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 and moral chal­lenges as you nav­i­gate the moral maze of doc­u­ment­ing the lives of oth­ers. Developing a suc­cess­ful long-term busi­ness prac­tice is one of the pri­or­i­ties of the Sarajevo Seminar for Narrative and Documentary Practice, so that by the end, you’ll thrive as a suc­cess­ful prac­ti­tion­er in ever-shifting media land­scape.

You’ll also learn when and how to include ver­bal and text-based sto­ry­telling and mul­ti­me­dia as part of your visu­al work. 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.

The Sarajevo Seminar for Narrative and Documentary Practice is struc­tured as a com­bi­na­tion of three week­long on-line ses­sions spread through a nine-month peri­od with week­ly ses­sions in between main teach­ing blocks. It will be led by Ziyah Gafic, Dr Paul Lowe and an addi­tion­al six lec­tur­ers from around the world teach­ing in our vir­tu­al class­room, where par­tic­i­pants will be tutored by the course lead­ers and guest lec­tur­ers, and taught var­i­ous pho­to­graph­ic tech­niques and research skills as well as the his­to­ry of pho­to­jour­nal­ism and doc­u­men­tary prac­tice.


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 tutors 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.



Marko Risovic, Sarajevo Seminar Participant, 2019: “...I enrolled in the VII Academy, an inno­v­a­tive edu­ca­tion­al pro­gram estab­lished with the goal of pro­vid­ing addi­tion­al knowl­edge and sup­port to pho­tog­ra­phers from under­rep­re­sent­ed regions of the world. Together with a group of tal­ent­ed peo­ple from the Balkans, I honed my skills by lis­ten­ing to many promi­nent mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ty (who did not nec­es­sar­i­ly have a pho­to­graph­ic back­ground, but are promi­nent mem­bers of relat­ed and sup­port­ing disciplines–journalism, phi­los­o­phy or sci­ence), all under the baton of the two–Paul and Ziyah–all in the intrigu­ing mise-en-scène of Sarajevo’s mul­ti­cul­tur­al land­scapes. I think that this approach to trans­fer­ring knowl­edge and pro­vid­ing mod­ern edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams to peo­ple in envi­ron­ments like ours is valu­able, because often due to a com­plex set of fac­tors we do not have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to par­tic­i­pate in mod­ern prax­is in this way.

“I think the two of them are the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of lec­tur­ers; Paul with his long-honed career devel­oped in the direc­tion of aca­d­e­m­ic engage­ment and work­ing with young peo­ple (and who as the founder of the mas­ter’s pro­gram at the London College of Communications has a per­fect method­ol­o­gy and the­o­ret­i­cal approach to study­ing doc­u­men­tary pho­tog­ra­phy), and Ziyah as a con­tem­po­rary, very busy doc­u­men­tary pho­tog­ra­ph­er and thinker in the field of pho­tog­ra­phy. They appear as a duo that goes through the the­o­ret­i­cal and prac­ti­cal aspects of con­tem­po­rary visu­al art in a very har­mo­nized way. In addi­tion to new knowl­edge and ideas regard­ing my own devel­op­ment, this school also brought me acquain­tances with won­der­ful peo­ple from all over the world with whom I share the same pas­sion and dilem­mas.”

Last days of school

  • Milos and Marija, broth­er and sis­ter, are the last pupils of a school that, in the 70’s and 80’s, had hun­dreds of stu­dents from near­by vil­lages. Today, the two of them are the only ones left, and luck­i­ly they have each oth­er. Their youngest broth­er Drago will most prob­a­bly be the last kid in this once big and noisy school. He will start with his edu­ca­tion next school year, which means that four years from now, the school will close. Trnski Odorovci, Serbia, February 24, 2020. ©Marko Risovic for the VII Academy

  • Aleksa and Teodora Tasev, broth­er and sis­ter, are the last pupils in big vil­lage school in Rakita. This place has been men­tioned often in the media for the ded­i­ca­tion of its inhab­i­tants to pre­vent mini hydropow­er plants to be built on their clear rivers. Yet, the num­ber of inhab­i­tants is decreas­ing every year and when Aleksa fin­ish­es the fourth grade, the school will most prob­a­bly close. They are the last chil­dren in the vil­lage. Rakita, Serbia, February 25, 2020. ©Marko Risovic for the VII Academy

  • Tanja is the last pupil in lit­tle vil­lage school in Dragovita. After she fin­ish­es the fourth grade, the school will be aban­doned. Her teacher will prob­a­bly be job­less or she will be moved to some oth­er vil­lage school, one of the few still open in the val­ley of Jerma riv­er. Dragovita, Serbia, February 26, 2020. ©Marko Risovic for the VII Academy

  • An old aba­cus was left in an aban­doned school in the vil­lage of Petracinci in south­ern Serbia. This big school was open until 10 years ago, and in hap­py times it was home for hun­dreds of pupils from near­by vil­lages. Today, the school is in bad shape, left to decay. Petacinci, Serbia, February 26, 2020. ©Marko Risovic for the VII Academy

  • Jovana is the last pupil of ele­men­tary school in Nasuskovica. This sum­mer, when she fin­ish­es fourth grade, she will move to new school in Zvonce to con­tin­ue her edu­ca­tion. This school, used for over 30 years, will be emp­ty for­ev­er. Nasuskovica, Serbia, March 2, 2020. ©Marko Risovic for the VII Academy






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.

Scholarship appli­ca­tion dead­line: January 5, 2021.

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