12 July 2022

Participants of FOLIO 2021 Share Their Experience after the 6-Month Online Photobook Masterclass

12 July 2022 - Written by PhMuseum

While FOLIO 2022 submissions' deadline is fast approaching, we speak to Danit Ariel, Nicole Schwartz, Marcel Top, Nasrah Omar, and Allan Salas who reflect on the improvement of their projects through the program and give some advice for new applicants.

Tommaso Parrillo from Witty Books and Photographer Allan Salas, discussing and editing his work with the group.

After the success of the first two editions, we look forward to selecting the 12 participants that will be forming the new class. Starting in October 2022, this year the course will be guided by Witty Books publisher Tommaso Parrillo, designer Giulia Boccarossa and PhMuseum curator Rocco Venezia. Below you will find useful insight to better understand what to expect and how to prepare your portfolio. The final deadline is set for 22 August, so take your time to read this article, reviews your portfolio and send your application!

Tommaso and Photographer Simone Padelli, sharing ideas on newly made work.

FOLIO 21 began with 12 participants who brought in a rich mix in terms of style, nationality and background. Not all their projects began the masterclass at the same stage, some works were still ongoing, as is the case of Nasrah Omar, who explains: “my project was in its infancy. It kept evolving through the course of FOLIO as containing ideas within the book brought new challenges and breakthroughs. The deadlines leading up to the final presentation provided a structure that motivated me to finesse my vision for my book”. On other occasions, we faced already some highly structured bodies of works still featuring some strong doubts regarding the sequencing of images and putting the book together. This was the case of Marcel Top, who began with a project that was deep into research and contained a lot of visual experimentation but was unsure how to compile the material into a book as he states “I started FOLIO when I finished the imagery for this project but I didn’t have a final way to show its whole depth. I knew that the best way was a book, but I couldn’t figure out how to bring the research and visual elements together. Through FOLIO, I was able to do that”. 

Allan Salas, scholarship recipient for FOLIO21 recall that “awarding me the scholarship to participate in the masterclass, and trusting my project to make it into a photobook, granted me opportunities that, because of my context - I live in Costa Rica - I would not have been able to access”. Allan's work will be also published under the main catalogue of Witty Books and will have its debut during PhMuseum Days this September,

Nasrah Omar has a one-to-one session with Tommaso and Rocco Venezia curator at PhMuseum.

In the process of achieving the dummies, the group meeting played a key role. The class was also so motivated that they allocated themself extra meetings outside the official class. Thanks to the new network opportunities and the always positive sharing environment, the influence of the fellow photographers on each other was major, as Nicole Schwartz, recalls “without the Sunday meetups that Allan and I cultivated, I would not have the book sequence that I have to this day. It was also amazing to meet this group of artists! I know many of us will continue meeting, we still do!”. Allan continues on to highlight the importance of these sessions too, “it was a privilege to observe and analyze my colleagues' projects and work methodologies. This definitely influenced the way I approached my own project”, Nasrah further explains that "working collaboratively, and having creative exchanges was motivating and reassuring".

In this sense, the online aspects of FOLIO play a strong positive role, allowing for flexibility and permitting international attendance, Marcel Top adds “because it was online we could work on it through a long period of time with regular meetings, but above all, we could have participants from all over the world”, Danit Ariel continues “there is no doubt that in the context of FOLIO, the positives of working online outweigh the negatives. We had the opportunity to work with photographers across many countries, gaining insight into the wealth of photographic culture out there”.

Welcome Session with Crossover between FOLIO 1st and 2nd Cycle.

FOLIO provides the space for growth, challenges oneself and offers a shifting opportunity in a photographer’s career. The different inputs, from other professionals and peers, had a strong impact on the participants’ approach and future practice, as Allan says “FOLIO greatly influenced the methodology through which I sequenced my photobook. Via the guidance of the tutors and their continuous analysis, I was able to understand multiple ways of approaching photobook-making”, Marcel agrees with this and he highlights the confidence boost after FOLIO, “I feel more confident now making books and will continue making them for my future project, about which I feel more assured now”.

To all of those thinking of applying, these photographers would like to finish with a few pieces of advice to prepare your application. Allan states that "the most important thing is having a project that you are deeply passionate about. If you get in, consider interacting actively with your colleagues as valuable and fundamental. This support network will help you define the direction of your projects”. Nasrah's advice follows this same line, she recommends having regular meetings with peers and connecting with fellow FOLIO participants to engage in discussions and to always stay receptive. Both Marcel and Nicole suggest, being open, making changes, and trying everything.

Marcel Top discussing his project with the group.

Do not miss the chance to attend this unique opportunity, the course will not only help you develop your project and practice but the whole experience will also provide a network of fellow photographers and professionals in the industry. Allocate enough time to select your images carefully and write your motivational paragraph. The scholarship deadline is set for 15 July, in case you are selected you will have the opportunity to participate for free. All applications submitted for the scholarship will be automatically eligible for the Early Bird Fee. the final deadline is set for 22 August, but don't wait until the last minute as there are only 11 seats plus one scholarship available.


FOLIO is one of the 3 online photobook masterclasses organised by PhMuseum. Focusing on photobook making, the course brings together different photographers with the aim of having a ready-to-publish photobook project. The class runs through 6 months of tutoring and the culmination in a live online presentation to the PhMuseum network and a photobook dummy exhibition during our International Festival in Bologna. Furthermore, Witty Books selects one of the participants’ works to be published in an edition of 500 as part of its main catalogue. To learn more about the program and apply, visit FOLIO 2022.

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