Past Workshop

Magnum Masterclass in Hong Kong with Abbas

Apply now for a 3-day masterclass in Hong Kong with Iranian-French photographer Abbas.


Abbas At dawn a monk goes begging for alms. Mandalay, Myanmar. © Abbas | Magnum Photos

Part of the educational program organized by Le French May Arts Festival 2016, Magnum Photos is proud to announce a new event for international emerging photographers in Hong Kong.

A  3-day photo masterclass with Abbas will take place in Hong Kong from June 1st to 3rd, with generous support from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Design.


Le French May Arts Festival 2016

The Masterclass 

Up to 12 near professional students, who should be motivated and willing to work very hard for three days. Abbas has the reputation of exhausting his students as well as himself.

Day 1

In the morning, each photographer is to bring 15 to 20 small work prints (cheap 13x18cms) about a previous work, preferably on a single subject. Expensive folio prints are not necessary.

This work will be laid on the table and evaluated to ascertain the level of each student. Assignments are then discussed and given.

Afternoon and evening

Students shoot their respective subjects.

Day 2

Students shoot all day and night

Day 3

Students edit their shoot in groups of two on their computers.

The work is then projected and discussed by all.

A small edit will then be printed.

Once all the work prints made, they will be laid out on a table for the final edit

A concept is worked out which leads to the sequencing of the work

The aim of this exercise is to emphasize the importance of editing and sequencing to present a coherent image of the various assignments.

Abbas’s approach when teaching is to direct students to find out by themselves how they can improve their photography and their editing.

On the last evening, Abbas will also present his work.


Abbas is an Iranian transplanted to Paris. He has dedicated himself to documenting the political and social life of societies in conflict. In his major work since 1970 he has covered wars and revolutions in Biafra, Bangladesh, Northern Ireland, Vietnam, the Middle East, Chile, Cuba, and South Africa during apartheid.

From 1978 to 1980, Abbas photographed the revolution in Iran, to which he returned in 1997 after seventeen years of voluntary exile. His book Iran Diary 1971-2002 is a critical interpretation of Iranian history, photographed and written as a private journal.

During his years of exile Abbas traveled constantly. Between 1983 and 1986 he journeyed through Mexico, attempting to photograph a country as a novelist might write about it. The resulting exhibition and book, Return to Mexico: Journeys Beyond the Mask, helped define his photographic aesthetic.

From 1987 to 1994, he focused on the resurgence of Islam throughout the world. Allah O Akbar: A Journey Through Militant Islam, the subsequent book and exhibition, spanning twenty-nine countries and four continents, attracted special attention after the 9/11 attacks by Islamic jihadists. A later book, Faces of Christianity: A Photographic Journey (2000), and touring show explored Christianity as a political, ritual and spiritual phenomenon

Abbas’ concern with religion led him in 2000 to begin a project on animism, in which he sought to discover why non-rational ritual has re-emerged in a world increasingly defined by science and technology. He abandoned this undertaking in 2002, on the first anniversary of 9/11, to start a new long-term project about the clash of religions, defined as a culture rather than faith, which he believes are turning into political ideologies and therefore one of the sources of the strategic struggles of the contemporary world.

From 2008 to 2010 Abbas travelled the world of Buddhism, photographing with the same sceptical eye. In 2013, he concluded a similar long-term project on Hinduism. Abbas is presently working on Judaism around the world.

A member of Sipa from 1971 to 1973, then of Gamma from 1974 to 1980, Abbas joined Magnum Photos in 1981 and became a member in 1985.


Workshop participants should be able to show a good level of photographic aptitude and a desire to learn. Candidates will be expected to arrive comfortable with their equipment and ready to photograph. The Masterclass is limited to 12 participants and photographers will be selected on the perceived benefit to their career and development.

Photographers should prepare sufficient research relating to what they wish to shoot before arrival. A story list can be provided for inspiration; however candidates are expected to formulate realistic projects in the geography and time supplied. Magnum will provide a suitable classroom infrastructure and participants will be responsible for their own time management.

Due to the fast pace of the Masterclass Magnum highly recommends that participants produce and edit their work digitally, using their own laptops. Individuals wishing to use film may do so, but at their own cost and during the time imposed. Lab services will be coordinated where required and where possible. Please specific in your application your preferred media. Please note – The Masterclass will be conducted in English.

The Magnum Masterclass will take place at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Design,
V810, 8/F, Jockey Club Innovation Tower (Block V), The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon Hong Kong



  • £500 for applications received until May 5, £570 for applications received from May 6th, 2016 (does not include travel, accommodations or on-the-ground expenses).
  • All fees must be paid within seven days of acceptance, or you will forfeit your space. This does not include photo developing, post-production, travel, accommodations or meals.
    Refund policies will be emailed with an acceptance letter.
  • If a participant decides to cancel for whatever reason, it must be confirmed in writing:
  • Magnum Photos will reimburse all the registration costs except for £80 administrative fee, if the participant informs Magnum Photos of cancellation at least two weeks before the first day of the workshop. Beyond this time limit, Magnum Photos will charge the following: 50% of the cost if canceled between 6 and 20 days before the workshop commences. 100% of the cost if canceled less than five days before the workshop commences. All workshops that are commenced but not completed through the fault of either the contractor/or participant need to be paid in full.  Magnum Photos is not responsible for reimbursement of travel expenses in case a workshop is cancelled. We recommend that you buy refundable air tickets and/or travel insurance.

Travel & Accommodation 

Participants are expected to make their own arrangements regarding travel and accommodation; a list of suitable accommodation options will be provided to successful candidates.

Please ensure you have the necessary travel documents & relevant visas to attend the event. Magnum Photos can provide letters of support where necessary.


Click here to apply

Upon submitting your online application, you will be transferred to Paypal where you must submit the full payment application fee. This will be applied to your tuition fee invoice if you are accepted onto the workshop. The fee will be fully refunded, minus Paypal fees, if you are NOT accepted into the workshop. Applications without a fee will not be processed.

The deadline for acceptance is May 29th, and qualified applicants will be selected through a combination of the merit of their work and their personal statement, and the order of their application’s receipt.
All applications received after May 29th will be reviewed, space permitting.

Successful applicants will be informed via email by May 25.

Please note: Magnum Photos reserves the right to cancel groups with less than 8 participants. Students will be given either a full refund or offered a place with an alternative photographer. In the event of a cancellation, students will be given at least ten days notice.

Magnum Photos reserves the right to change or alter the program advertised.

For queries, please contact Marine Mérindol, Development Manager:

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