Photographing Documentary Vision: Dubai Masterclass with Bharat Choudhary

Bharat Choudhary is an independent photographer based in London. He grew up in Nigeria and later moved to India where he studied at the Indian Institute of Forestry Management. He worked with CARE international in India for five years before moving to photography.

Organized by Emaho Magazine in partnership with East-Wing, Dubai.

February 2015, Dubai, UAE How do you identify and tell a relevant story? How do you avoid uninformed, stereotypical and clichéd narratives? And how do you tell the story in your own unique and confident voice? Documentary photography is evolving like never before and so is its audience. Readers and viewers of photography are no longer interested in mere descriptive or ‘show and tell’ stories. Today, a photographer needs to tell people more than what they already know. As a documentary photographer, one has to enrich existing discussions, stir up fresh debates, contribute new lines of reasoning and create work that lays threadbare complex historical, socio-political, economic and legal environments. And with this, share informed opinions, argue for divergent perspectives, and steadfastly defend what she or he believes in. This is a step towards creating meaningful documentary work.

Bharat002 UK. London. 2011. Iythar, an Egyptian-British fine artist, paints at her studio. One of her paintings [top-left] is titled, ‘The Way Sarkozy Intended It’. She said, “It is an interpretation of the burqa ban in France. It shows how the ban takes away the voice and identity of Muslim women, leaving them speechless and incomplete”.

But just as the idea and research of a story is important, its aesthetic construction and presentation is equally vital. To make sure that one’s work does not get drowned in the millions of photographs being created every day, a photographer’s aesthetic voice or style has to be bold and irreplaceable. And a true voice or style has to evolve organically; it cannot be borrowed. Therefore, photographers must learn to avoid all kinds of noises around them and genuinely nurture their inherent creative voice. This is a step towards creating uniquely beautiful documentary work. And in his workshop, Bharat Choudhary will help participants take their first steps towards creating meaningful as well as uniquely beautiful documentary projects. With an objective of enabling participants to embark on dedicated long-term photographic projects, the 4-day rigorous workshop would emphasize on: –      Researching subjects to ignite fresh perspectives and produce informed and relevant bodies of work. –      Developing conceptual thoroughness and actively understanding the politics of image making –      Creating and improving personal documentary photo essays/stories, innovative narratives (linear/nonlinear), critical visual analysis, editing and photo captioning  

Workshop Framework

  • Selected participants will be required to have at least one pre-workshop Skype chat with Bharat Choudhary. They can talk about their motivations and experience in photography, what ideas/topics they want to work on, and their expectations from the workshop.
  • The workshop in Dubai will commence with a screening of some of the iconic documentary projects from around the world. This will be followed by some theoretical presentations, discussions and later photography assignments for each participant would be finalized.
  • Each day, there are going to be formal and informal sessions to help participants identify the theoretical, technical and functional skills required to create a compelling documentary photo project.
  • Through an intensive 4-day workshop, participants will photograph and produce a photo story/essay while also undergoing appraisals, critiques and editing meetings.
  • There will be some group exercises, individual presentations, and feedback sessions to improve work being created by the participants.
  • There will be a dedicated session on photography and art grants, how to apply for them and how to write a grant worthy project proposal.
  • Advice and support will also be provided on basic camera techniques, composition and lighting.
  • Each and every participant is expected to speak, discuss and contribute to the learning process.
  • On the final day, participants will have to make individual presentations of their stories or essays produced during the workshop.

Bharat003UK. London. 2011. Rezia Halima Wahid [right] and her 3-year old daughter, Noorie, at Rezia’s studio. Rezia is a textile artist and creates hand-woven textiles. Rezia said, “Islam is a part of me, my existence, but my spirituality is something very personal. My identity as an artist is equally important and I want to be recognized for my work”.


Who should apply

The workshop is aimed at individuals with an interest in creative and thoughtful documentary photography. Those, who wish to enrich their development as photographers, want to create intelligent bodies of dedicated work and simultaneously hope to discover their aesthetic voice, should benefit from this workshop. Participants should be comfortable with their photographic equipment and are expected to arrive with a few project ideas which they would like to further refine and work upon during the workshop. A note detailing other requirements and the daily schedule will be emailed separately to the selected participants.  

Details and Application

No. of days : 4 Minimum seats required for the workshop: 8 Maximum seats required for the workshop: 13 Dates: 20-23rd February 2015 Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates Tuition Fee: $ 1000 Application Deadline: 21st January, 2015 extended to 31st January, 2015. Please note: Chosen participants are expected to bear their own travel and accommodation. Your final participation is subject to realization of fees and is non-refundable.

 Bharat004 UK. London. 2010. From left, Minhaj, Ashiq, Shofique and Abid pictured just before they left London to attend a gathering on ‘Islam and Young Muslims’ at Birmingham, UK.

How To Apply

Send an email to  with “Workshop Application-Dubai, Bharat Choudhary” written in the subject line, and attach the following: A PDF document of maximum 30 pages which should not be more than 5MB. Bodies of work/projects are preferred. The PDF should include:
  • A brief description of you and your project(s)
  • A CV and exhibition list.
  About: Bharat Choudhary is an Indian-British photographer based in Geneva, Switzerland. He graduated with a Masters in Photojournalism from the University of Missouri, USA, in 2010. He has been a recipient of the Ford Foundation International Fellowship, Alexia Foundation Professional Grant, Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography and a two-time finalist for the W. Eugene Smith Grant. His work has been recognized by a number of awards and exhibitions. Since 2009, he has been working with the Muslim and Arab youth in America, England and France on a project called The Silence of ‘Others’.

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