Criticae 2021/22 Online Masterclass On Documentary Photography

PhMuseum Documentary Photography Masterclass Public Presentation

Activate Your Practice

Documentary photography is both a critical reflection on photography itself and a way of dealing with reality in an attempt to understand it and communicate about it. How can a documentary express social concern while at the same time recognize its own shortcomings and blind spots? How can we define a shared sense of realism in a hyper-individual and confusing era of post-truth and fake news, in which there is no longer a consensus about what is real, half-truth, fiction, or entertainment?

Guided by photographer, artist and doctoral researcher Max Pinckers, participants will expand their documentary projects by developing their own critical documentary strategies. This 6-month program aims to introduce participants to documentary photography as a mode for critical questioning, social engagement, ethical sensibility and self-reflexivity. This course departs from documentary’s inherent ‘twofoldness’ as both subjective and objective, critical and poetic, collaborative and idiosyncratic, self-reflexive and emotional, philosophical and intuitive, engaged and analytical.

The program will be conducted online over the course of 6 months. To participate, simply fill in the form with your personal details, share a link to your portfolio and apply for free. If your application is successful, we will notify you and guide you to enroll in the program.

At the end of the program, one or more participants will be selected for an exhibition at the PhMuseum Lab - an opportunity for international exposure and a chance to present your work in a public venue.

  • When From May 2021 to November 2021
  • Language English
  • Positions 9 seats +1 scholarship
  • Dedication 60+ Hours
  • Contacts If you have any questions you can reach us at

How it works

  • Group Classes

    During 4 online 4-hour group classes, Max Pinckers will share his experience and working methods related to contemporary photography, guiding you in developing your project and introducing you to the theoretical frameworks of critical documentary practice.

  • One-to-one Mentoring

    With these 4 online 60-min individual sessions you will have the time to engage in specific discussions aimed at working on your ideas and improving your methods. Sessions are tailor-made according to your specific needs and that of your project.

  • Studio Visits

    To grant you industry insight and offer complementary information, we have invited expert practitioners to host 5 interactive studio visits. They will disclose the methodologies behind their work and offer a better understanding of their role in the photography industry. More info below.

  • Final meeting + work exhibited

    At the end of the program, one or more photographers will exhibit at PhMuseum Lab, our headquarters in Bologna, Italy. All participants will further benefit from dissemination opportunities through PhMuseum channels.

Head professor

Max Pinckers

Max Pinckers (1988, Brussels) is a photographer based in Brussels, Belgium. He has produced various photobooks such as Lotus (2011), The Fourth Wall, (2012) and Will They Sing Like Raindrops or Leave Me Thirsty (2014). He is currently a doctoral researcher in the Arts at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK) in Ghent. Pinckers has had exhibitions at the MOCAK in Poland (2016), the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the United States (2015) and the Centre for Fine Arts - Bozar in Belgium (2015), among others. Awards include the Edward Steichen Award (2015) and the City of Levallois Photography Award (2013). In 2015 he founded the independent publishing house Lyre Press.


  • May 2021

    • Session 1 Welcome and Presentation
  • June

    • Session 2 One-to-One Mentoring
    • Session 3 Studio visit with Laia Abril
  • July

    • Session 4 Studio visit with Mathieu Asselin
    • Session 5 Participants’ Work Presentation
    • Session 6 One-to-One Mentoring
  • August

    • Summer Break
  • September

    • Session 7 Group Session: Discussion on critical documentary strategies - ethics, aesthetics and conventions (4 Hours)
    • Session 8 Studio visit with Jan Hoek
  • October

    • Session 9 One-to-One Mentoring
    • Session 10 Studio visit with Thomas Sauvin
    • Session 11 Group Session: Discussion on showcasing documentary work, finalizing a presentation (4 Hours)
  • November

    • Session 12 One-to-One Mentoring
    • Session 13 Studio visit with Chao Maina
    • Session 14 Group Session: Final open discussion (4 Hours)
    • Session 15 Participants’ Work Presentation
  • April 2022

    • Selected photographer(s) exhibition held at PhMuseum Lab, Bologna (Italy).
  • May

    • Session 16 Group Session: Group Session: Introduction to documentary modes (4 Hours)

Studio visits

Why participate?

  • Acquire practical skills

    This program grants you first-hand experience from an international artist like Max Pinckers, enhancing your theoretical and practical approach to documentary.

  • Exhibit your project

    At the end of the masterclass, all the participants will have completed their projects, ready to present in a final form. Plus, one or more participants will exhibit their projects at the PhMuseum Lab in 2022.

  • Expand your network

    Engage with a selected group of peers and professionals from around the world, who can become a resource for you in the future. Take advantage of PhMuseum channels to promote your work.

  • Flexible program

    During these uncertain times, take the opportunity to engage in a program that will always be available to you. Plus, you have the chance to learn from home while working or studying.

  • Competitive price

    Enjoy a high-end program at our launching price, one of the most competitive on the market. If you don’t have the resources, you can also apply for 1 fully-funded scholarship.

Criticae 2021/22 participants

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