Long time friends and collaborators and co-founders of VII, Ron Haviv and Gary Knight met in Bosnia in the early 1990’s where they were photographing the war in the former Yugoslavia and have been close friends ever since.
Both photographers produced some of the most important and celebrated work of their careers in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, during the wars that lasted from 1991 through to 1999. They are returning to former Yugoslavia to teach their first photography masterclass in a region still struggling to emerge from that violent civil war.
The masterclass draws from the workshops they have taught independently for over a decade.
This masterclass will appeal to anyone interested in pushing the limits of their photography. Whether you are a professional fine-tuning your vision, a committed amateur, or student wanting to learn new techniques to reach your potential or you simply want to have a fantastic photographic adventure this workshop will be an intense and transformative learning experience.
Utilizing one week of programming the masterclass is designed to maximize the amount of time you will have for photography without compromising the time for instruction, technique and thoughtful critique.
The program will start with a day of preparation in storytelling and technique in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Following that, you will commence a 5-day photography project where you can immerse yourself in a story of your choice in the rich and diverse culture of the region. We will conclude the workshop with a day of editing and post production and a projection on the last night.
Prior to the masterclass you will have the opportunity to work by e-mail with Gary and Ron to develop an idea that you can photograph during the masterclass. Your idea can be developed further when the masterclass starts.
Day 1: June 16
You will spend the first day with Gary and Ron working on storytelling technique which will include a portfolio review and discussion about your projects for the following week. Group dinner in the evening.
Day 2 through Day 6: June 17 – 21
You will work on your own projects in Bosnia, returning in the evening for a daily edit session with Ron or Gary. Ron and Gary will present their own Balkan work and the work of other photographers who have worked in the region during the week and both will be available to talk about the business of photography.
Day 7: June 22
Final edit. You will work with Gary and Ron to edit and sequence your work culminating in a public projection in the community on the 7th day.
Depart on June 23
The masterclass fee is $3,000.
There will be a maximum of 16 attendees. All participants must be 18 years or older. Reserve your spot with a 40% deposit.
During the Sarajevo assignments Gary and Ron will be based downtown. Sarajevo is a small city and easy to walk around. Students are responsible for their own accommodation, food, travel and all other costs associated with the masterclass.
Testimonials on Gary Knight
Film maker, Ryan Booth
"The photographer Gary Knight was another really important mentor for me. Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved the big, black-and-white documentary photography from LIFE, National Geographic, and TIME; and one of my favorite books to look through when I was a kid was a huge coffee table book of Matthew Brady’s Civil War images. While living in Nashville, I went on the road with a couple of bands and shot black-and-white doc style images. I thought documentary photography might be interesting to explore, so I applied for a workshop with VII, a conflict photography agency in New York. I was accepted and did a two-week workshop in Siem Reap, Cambodia with Gary Knight. There were 10 of us in the workshop and everyone else worked at newspapers or were stringers for magazines or something similar. But there I was, an audio engineer from Nashville who didn’t quite fit in—and I felt like Gary sensed that. He pulled me aside at the end of the first week and said that when he looked through everyone’s photos, he immediately knew which ones were mine because I had a very distinct way of seeing. He told me: “You have to protect that. Don’t let anybody tell you that you’re doing something wrong. Don’t go back to school, because they’ll beat it out of you. Don’t go work for anyone who doesn’t value that. Just keep at it.” It was an amazing moment: an incredible photographer told me that there was something inside of me that I should protect and grow. No one had ever said anything like that to me before."
Investment Banker, Justin McKie
"Joining Gary on his photography masterclass was both brilliant fun and genuinely progressed my photography skills beyond what I thought possible in the time frame.
He has such a passion and insight into photography that no matter what level the students skills were at, you could see progression across the board in the quality of the images being produced each day. Everyone was visibly proud of what they had produced by the end of the workshop.
One of the best things about the workshop is that you can focus 100% on improving your skills, interacting with the subject and area and in what was a really enjoyable and supportive environment.
I was actually quite nervous when I started the workshop because the whole thing was outside of my comfort zone. I was not a professional photographer and had never been to the country before, but in absolutely no time at all I was having a ball”.
Photographer, Justin Mott
"While waiting tables, I met a man who worked in graphics at TIME magazine. He told me if I ever make it to NYC to look him up. I made it to New York when summer ended and gave him a call. He introduced me to the photo editor and she politely looked through my awful images of autumn foliage and generic college shots. On the walls hung iconic images by James Nachtwey; I felt way out of my league—and I was—but she gave me a nugget of advice that changed everything for me. I told her I was heading to Southeast Asia and she said to look into the VII Workshops conducted in Cambodia. So I took VII Founder Gary Knight’s class in Siem Reap and he changed the way I thought about photography. There were ten people in my class; I was easily the worst photographer. But after the class I spent three months in Cambodia and Vietnam traveling and working on stories, settling in Hanoi. There, I started working on a project on 3rd generation victims of Agent Orange. I fell in love with Vietnam and my projects and basically haven’t left since then. Gary helped me get my first story published in Newsweek and later that year I was actually invited into TIME’s office by the photo editor. She showed me around and also really helped me with my career and gave me confidence in myself as a photographer. I’ve now been in Vietnam for over six years."
Photographer, Maciek Nabrdalik
"If you’re reading this you’re probably considering taking the workshop with Gary Knight.
I took Gary’s workshop in Cambodia in 2009. You’d think it was too long ago to remember this experience well but I really do. It is probably because that week was one of the milestones on my photographic path.
We met when I was carrying a heavy luggage of news photography experience and felt quite confident about my craft so it was a bit intimidating when Gary went out for a shooting day with me. I was shadowed, instructed and questioned by him for a big part of the day. This experience completely changed my approach. During these few hours I became “invisible”, unobtrusive and efficient photographer.
The long discussions over our photographs were mind opening. I stayed in touch with other participants of our workshop in Cambodia – a very diverse international group of people, all with very different experiences – and they all think it was a tailor-made workshop.
Over these years I attended, assisted and organized workshops lead by many admired photographers and I could honestly recommend some of those if I know your interests, the level of your photography and your personality. But I can blindly recommend this one. Gary will challenge the way you photograph, the way you think of photography and probably the way you live. But that’s what Mentors do."
Testimonials on Ron Haviv
Anastasia Taylor Lind, Freelance
“I’d been out of University for 2 years, and was in desperate need of inspiration and direction. I learnt as much from a week of being guided by Ron as I did in my 3 years of formal photographic education. Ron critiqued my work and sent me out with practical, tangible, clear advice on how to move forward with my story. It was an exhausting, at times heart wrenching, and exhilarating process.
Ron is a brilliant photographer, but also a brilliant teacher…this is a rare quality. He knows exactly when to gently coax and encourage, and when to give you bollocking. I sincerely attribute making a successful transition from education to working freelance to him”
Guy Martin, Panos Pictures
“Ron Haviv’s workshop not only gave me the opportunity to go out and shoot a story in a country that I was unfamiliar with, but having Ron analyze and critique the work on a daily basis gave me the confidence to delve deeper, investigate further and never stop working! The skills learned and developed during that wonderful 5 days have stayed with me 7 years later.”
Alex Potter, Freelance
"Encouraging my strengths and pointing out where I needed improvement, Ron’s guidance and insight was invaluable."
Ivor Prickett, Panos Pictures
“The workshop was an integral step as I tried to become a professional photographer. Learning about Ron’s inspiring path through photography, while also shooting a small project with his careful guidance, made for for a truly intense but rewarding week! A great photographer who also has the intangible ability to teach young students.”
Antonio Bolofo, Getty
“Ron’s advice is not just technical, but also creative and intelligent. The subject matter covered in the workshop made me think, understand, and digest what photography is… He continues to be open and accessible to anyone who may need some assistance at some obscure crossroad in their photographic journey.”
Tasneem Alsultan, Freelancer
“Not every great photographer is a great teacher. The class was engaging, and in many times educational in a very entertaining way. It’s not common to find education fun! But here I was, in the midst of Palm Springs, sitting among inspirational photographers, and having Ron explain why each image was good and how it could be better during class. And he also pushed each student to work on their weaknesses during the one-on-one. It’s something we all need. An encouragement with good guidance. Thank you Ron!”
About the Photographers
Gary Knight is co-founder and principal architect of the VII Photo Agency and co-founder of The VII Foundation. He is founder of the Program for Narrative & Documentary Practice at the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University where he teaches a course in non-fiction storytelling and is a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.
He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Frontline Club, London; co-founder and Board member of The GroundTruth Project, Boston; twice Chair and President of the World Press Photo Award; and a photographer.
Ron Haviv is co-founder of the VII Photo Agency and co-founder of The VII Foundation. He has dedicated his career to documenting conflict and raising awareness about human rights issues around the globe.
In the last three decades, Haviv has covered more than twenty-five conflicts and worked in over one hundred countries. He has published four critically acclaimed collections of photography, and his work, which has won numerous awards has been featured in museums and galleries worldwide.
If, under exceptional circumstances, such as health or accident, Ron Haviv or Gary Knight are made unavailable they will be replaced with another VII photographer.
All health, travel and other potential liabilities are the responsibility of the student and should be covered adequately by their own insurance. We strongly recommend you consult with your own physician about health issues and take out travel insurance for your belongings. Please check about visa requirements which may vary depending on your nationality.