Criticae 2022/23 Online Masterclass On Documentary Photography

Exploring Personal Narratives

Photography is a means for communicating stories & ideas — a space for critical meditation on the world, but also a realm for self-reflection. What is the relationship between the intimate and the non-personal in photography? How do we tell stories that are "ours" to tell? How do we define our relationship with the medium in an era where everyone is empowered to tell their own story with a camera?

Guided by photographer Laura El-Tantawy, participants will be introduced to photography as a vehicle for individual storytelling. The program will delve into different modes of "personal" stories, by questioning documentary and its different media (stills, sound, moving images & text). You will explore the critical and poetic, collaborative and idiosyncratic, philosophical and intuitive, emotional and analytical.

The program will be conducted online over the course of 8 months with the goal to lead you to complete a personal project and acquire valuable skills to keep developing your career. 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 June 2022 to February 2023
  • Language English
  • Positions 11 seats +1 scholarship
  • Dedication 60+ Hours
  • Contacts If you have any questions you can reach us at

How it works

  • Group Classes and Seminars

    With 4 online group classes and 3 seminars, Laura El-Tantawy will share her experience and working methods related to contemporary photography, guiding you in developing your project and introducing you to the theoretical frameworks for both critical and personal documentary strategies.

  • 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.

  • 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

Laura El-Tantawy

Laura El-Tantawy is an Egyptian photographer. She was born in Worcestershire, England to Egyptian parents. She attended high school in Saudi Arabia, started university in Cairo, Egypt and finished in the US. She reads, writes and speaks Arabic, thinks and dreams in English and feels both. This unusual blend carries through her photographic work. Her photography is inspired by questions on her identity - exploring social and environmental issues pertaining to her background. In 2002, she started her career as a newspaper photographer with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Sarasota Herald-Tribune (USA). In 2006, she became freelance to pursue personal projects. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia (USA) with dual degrees in journalism and political science. Additional education includes an MA in Art and Media Practice from the University of Westminster (UK/2011) and a Research Fellowship at the University of Oxford (UK/2009). Her first book, In the Shadow of the Pyramids, offers a first person account exploring memory and identity against the backdrop of her native Egypt’s political turmoil from 2005 to 2014. Self published on Jan. 25, 2015 to coincide with the anniversary of the Egyptian revolution, it has been named as one of the best photography books of 2015 by several critics and book collectors. It earned the nomination for the prestigious Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016.


  • June 2022

    • Session 1 (Group) Welcome and participant’s work presentation (6 Hours)
    • Session 2 (Seminar) Introduction to documentary modes / personal narratives in documentary photography (4 Hours)
  • July

    • Session 3 One-to-One Mentoring
    • Session 4 Studio visit with Monica Allende, Independent Art consultant & Editor
  • August

    • Summer Break
  • September

    • Session 5 (Seminar) Discussion on ethics, aesthetics and conventions, critical documentary strategies (4 Hours)
    • Session 6 Studio visit Bindi Vora, Artist & Curator
    • Session 7 (Group) Participants’ Work Presentation (6 Hours)
  • October

    • Session 8 One-to-One Mentoring
    • Session 9 Studio visit with Sybren Kuiper, Book Designer
  • November

    • Session 10 (Seminar) Discussion on showcasing documentary work, finalizing a presentation (4 Hours)
    • Session 11 One-to-One Mentoring
    • Session 12 Studio visit with Amak Mahmoodian, Photographer
  • December

    • Session 13 (Group) Participants’ Work Presentation (4 Hours)
  • January 2023

    • Session 14 Studio visit with Julie Bonzon, Gallerist
    • Session 15 One-to-One Mentoring
  • October

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

Studio visits

Why participate?

  • Acquire practical skills

    This program grants you first-hand experience from an international photographer like Laura El-Tantawy, enhancing your theoretical and practical approach to documentary photography.

  • 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 2023.

  • 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 2022/23 participants

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