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VII Interactive: Spiritual Connection to Photography Workshop with John Stanmeyer

June 1, 2020 - June 26, 2020


Day 14 Through Windows
Rain drops. Not from heavy rain. All day drizzling slightly, on the roof, against windows, letting me know it was there. Inside, I was a little stir crazy on this fourteenth day, and walked about the home, Elfriede the Great Dane never leaving my side. First was my bedroom to see what Frida had earlier been chewing, remembering one of these days I need to order replacement blinds for all windows. Wandering downstairs, I’m still not certain which lamp I found in Istanbul earlier this year will replace the shadeless one hanging forever. The cracks on the walls at the top of the staircase hadn’t changed in forever either…I’ve given up on EJ the wall guy ever finishing. Walking outside later with Elfriede, all the falling apart beauty of the home became covered in screen-colored raindrops. I love when it rains.

This workshop is now sold out. If you would like to be added to the waitlist, please email workshops@viiphoto.com.

Instructor: John Stanmeyer
Price:$1,000 Special Introductory Price of $700
Location: Online


In this time of confined existence, it is a most astonishing moment to self-reflect and dive deep within ourselves, within the small world we inhabit–our home or within 100 meters where we exist. There are endless stories to tell. During this restricted lifestyle, a universe of possibilities we often are not able to feel, to see, we become better photographers. It presents us with the opportunity to become more deeply connected storytellers for when the world reopens.

Every place and space has a story, even the walls around us and the ground beneath our feet. During this time of confinement, our stories become that of how we live, where we live, and what we feel–things that we are often too distracted to see. Who are your neighbors, and how do you interact at a distance? What do you see outside your window–an unsafe world where you cannot venture, or a myriad of exciting possibilities for the future?

Day 21 Through Windows
Life is different today. I’m still in the beautifulest peace I’ve ever experienced. Excited by the slightest change of light and sound. My fingers have greater sensation than before, and I could feel the wind this afternoon while being indoors. Elfriede the Great Dane felt these too, maybe more. How animals can sense the coming of an earthquake, well before it happens. Frida often stood listening, this time through the first floor backyard window, just below an upstairs window she stood at on Day Sixteen. Frida’s not familiar with the old Tibetan cabinet that for four months has been in another room. By a lamp my mother once used, nor a book kindly given recently by my National Geographic colleague, Babak Tafreshi. Above her is a toy horse my daughter gave for my birthday last month, or was it from Christmas? Can’t remember. And that’s where Elfriede stood. Maybe sensing what I am feeling is different. How what we are experiencing is altering further our perceptions of life, ourselves and the future. There’s a plate tectonic shift occurring. Not from our earth. From with inside us.


Each session will begin at 12 PM EST (GMT-5) and will run 2-3 hours. There will also be email correspondence with John throughout the week.

Week 1

During the first session, John gives a presentation and lecture, followed by Q&A with the group. In the second session, each participant will present two stories of his/her work (20 images per story) for discussion and critique. While in the quarantine period, participants will be asked to create a story within their home or within a 100-meter perimeter of their home (if not in an apartment). Interaction with people outside the household will be strongly discouraged in keeping self-quarantining measures.

Week 2

Each student will present two stories of his/her work (20 images per story) for discussion and critique. Group discussion will include topics like selling stories through traditional and non-traditional publishing channels.

Week 3

Students will continue to present new edits of and updates to their stories for in-depth discussion on the creation and curation of these stories until completion.

Week 4

Students will continue to present new edits of and updates to their stories for in-depth discussion on the creation and curation of these stories until completion.



About the Instructor

John Stanmeyer is an award-winning photojournalist, Emmy nominated filmmaker and field recordist dedicated to social and political issues that define our times.

Over the last decade, John has worked nearly exclusively with National Geographic magazine, producing over 15 stories for the magazine resulting in 10 covers. Between 1998 and 2008, John was a contract photographer for Time magazine, during which time he photographed hundreds of stories for the magazine including the war in Afghanistan, the fight for independence in East Timor, the fall of Suharto in Indonesia, and other significant world news events. His years with Time resulted in 18 covers of the magazine.

In 2001, Stanmeyer co-found with six of the world’s leading photojournalists the VII Photo Agency. By 2005, VII was listed in third position in American Photo’s “100 Most Important People in Photography.” Stanmeyer is an Emeritus member with his historic archive of war and social commentary at VII.

He is the recipient of numerous honors, including the prestigious Robert Capa award (Overseas Press Club), POYi Magazine Photographer of the Year, and numerous World Press Photo, Picture of the Year and NPPA awards. In 2008, his National Geographic cover story on global malaria received the National Magazine Award. In 2012, he was nominated for an Emmy with the documentary film series, Starved for Attention, and in 2014 was the recipient of the World Press Photo award for his photograph from Djibouti titled Signal.

John has published a number of books including Island of the Spirits, a journalistic/anthropologic look at Balinese culture documented during the five years he lived on the island.

A photographer, lecturer and educator, Stanmeyer lives in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. When not on the road, he can be found at his gallery and coffeehouse in West Stockbridge, MA.


“John Stanmeyer is the standard to which I now hold all a teachers. I’ve attended three workshops led by John over the past years and each time I come away with a greater understanding not just of my ability to form stories visually, but also in the way these pieces fit into the bigger world. John is incredibly understanding and patient, truly looking to see what personally motivates each individual. He has the ability to read his students and push them in a way that works best for them – something that is truly only found in great teachers. He cares about being a guiding presence for the inquisitive soul, but also respects each person’s individual drive, abilities and vision. The fact that I learn both about myself as well as the stories I’ve photographed speaks volumes for the workshop experience with John, and I am truly grateful for his guidance that has completely changed the course of my photography career.” — Schmoo Theune

“I have attended John Stanmeyer’s workshops now three times. I go back, because I love the intensity and focus that John asks from his participants. It’s an amazing opportunity to find and tell a story where you have the experience of John to help guide you through all the many pieces of visual story telling. From assigning you the right fixer, to helping with composition and editing, John is skilled at pushing you to do more and better, until in the end, you leave with something strong and powerful. His workshops always deliver an end product beyond what I imagined I could ever create. John also turns his participants into family. The workshop environment he creates, binds us together in a deep appreciation for each other’s work and our need to visually tell stories. This combination of hard work, a great product, and nurturing community is a special formula not to be missed.” — Brenda Bancel

“I was skeptical when John told me how transformative previous workshops had been for participants, several of whom were returning for a second or third time by joining us in Yogyakarta, but he was absolutely right in a way I couldn’t have imagined. John had suggested I work on a story about the waria, the Muslim transgender community in Indonesia, given my legal background and interest in global human rights issues. I was up for the adventure and soon found myself following along as my trans friends busked under a bridge, danced in a nunnery and gossiped while putting on makeup. Throughout the course of the workshop, John helped me look beyond my own limiting beliefs through both practical and theoretical feedback on visual storytelling. I pushed myself as a photographer and expanded as a human.”  — Amisha Patel

“Attending a Photographic workshop mentored by John is not just a photographic workshop. Yes he will lecture about keeping lines straight, filling the frame and exposure. But what he is really helping you to understand is the relationship with the subject you are photographing. We all bring a piece of the puzzle to the images we create and he pushes you to understand that vision. Every trip with John helps me be a better photographer, both with technical expertise and passion for the story I want to share. I have seen him work with all levels of photographers and we all offer something to the story and he nurtures that vision. I have had four such adventures with John over the years and look forward to many more.” — Dave Weathers


June 1, 2020
June 26, 2020
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