First ADPP Workshop in Beirut

This August, Magnum Foundation, the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, and the Prince Claus Fund held the first workshop for the nine inaugural Arab Documentary Photography Program (ADPP) grantees at the Dar Al-Mussawir in Beirut. The grantees came together from across the region for intensive mentorship and project development guidance from photographers Eric Gottesman, Peter Van Agtmael, Randa Shaath, and Tanya Habjouqa. The workshop was headed by coordinator Jessica Murray and curatorial advisor Hester Keiser.

The workshop was set up to cater to the different levels of experience, ability, and progression of concept. Aside from setting up a solid rapport between the mentors and grantees, the goal of this first workshop was really to prepare for the story production process and to plant seeds for thinking about distribution and audience engagement.

Each grantee was able to dissect their project with group input to think through challenges, integrate new approaches, and expand upon the trajectory of traditional, linear narratives. Some grantees began to strategize on how to re-create events for the camera, how to engage subjects to participate in the process, and how to blend objective realities with dreamscapes, memories, and other modes of experience.

While all of the grantees were together, the opportunity was ripe for an emphasis on technique and the importance of working towards thoughtful and well-executed images. Peter Van Agtmeal led foundational editing exercises focused on form and composition using grantee work as active examples. 


The workshop also addressed issues of security and ethics, and the realities of photographing in many of these countries. What are the ways to approach someone that is afraid of being photographed? What can it mean for the photographer, and more importantly, for the subject? Tanya Habjouqa and Eric Gottesman Eric were able to share concrete examples from their own work.

In the next workshop, a very practical focus will be on thinking creatively in looking for alternative resources for producing and showing work. In a region with few resources and financial opportunities dedicated to photography, it’s critical that grantees seek out sources of support and funding as a part of their practice. 

Simone Salvo