IAN TEH: The Process, The Narrative, Your Journey

In my 20 years as a photographer and teaching workshops worldwide, there are recurring challenges I had to overcome in my own process, these are issues I have also identified with workshop participants. In this workshop, we will address some of the biggest hurdles in making a photographic story that is impactful in its message as well as arresting as a series of photographs.


This workshop is an investigation into your Creative Process, a self-made framework essential for your development as a visual storyteller. The class will examine the possible avenues of the visual storytelling process and the decisions you might make as a thoughtful photographer. The framework provides a critical structure for the practitioner to grow within, learning to make objective step by step decisions along the way to craft narrative and explore ways in which to develop the story. The workshop aims to establish a solid foundation within your photographic practice in order to inform future development. The 5 day programme will cover key areas of the creative process from the development of a story idea, visualizing and problem solving, to its realisation — the development of these skill sets are part experiential and will, therefore, be incorporated within the framework of a photography project. The workshop focuses and explores creative considerations involved in shooting, sequencing, and reasonings behind the decisions for the final production. All these stages of the photographic practice are important and necessary to developing a coherent body of work — the maturation and advancement of these key foundational blocks will enable you, the photographer, to constantly explore and push your creative limits. A fundamental aim of the workshop will be to develop your critical creative facility and an understanding of professional production requirements, tools essential for your own photographic journey.


Ultimately, in the professional world you have to be able to motivate and make decisions for yourself. How do you maintain that engagement and learn to ride through the doubts and still be able to make sensible and creative decisions when you are not in the position to know all the answers? Familiarising and building a workflow and creative process, for which you can ask challenging questions to diagnose the aims, the whys and hows will essentially develop an objective and open attitude in order to develop a well thought out approach to any project.


Ian Teh has published three monographs, Undercurrents (2008), Traces (2011) and Confluence (2014). His work is part of the permanent collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) and the Hood Museum in the USA. Selected solo shows include the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York in 2004, Flowers in London in 2011 and the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam in 2012.

Teh has received several honours, in 2018 he was awarded a travel grant from the Pulitzer Centre for Crisis Reporting and presented his work on climate change at the prestigious 2018 National Geographic Photography Seminar. He is also the recipient of the International Photoreporter Grant 2016 the Abigail Cohen Fellowship in Documentary Photography 2014 and the Emergency Fund 2011 from the Magnum Foundation.

In 2013, he was elected by the Open Society Foundations to exhibit in New York at the Moving Walls Exhibition. In 2015, during the COP21 Paris climate talks, large poster images of his work were displayed on the streets of Paris as a collaborative initiative by #Dysturb and Magnum Foundation.  He is a co-exhibitor in Coal + Ice, an environmental group show of acclaimed photographers and curated by Susan Meiselas. It was exhibited at the Official Residence of the US Ambassador to France during COP21.


The OBSCURA Festival Workshops and Masterclasses bring world-class industry practitioners to nurture a new generation of photographers seeking to improve their knowledge and understanding, while simultaneously expanding their network with the photography industry and community. Led by a faculty of award-winning photographers and mentors, the programme is an intensive experience for amateurs and seasoned professionals alike.

Objective & Methodology

The OBSCURA Masterclasses and Workshops aims to nurture the latent talents of photographer to become good storytellers who are able to create work that resonate with and are relevant to the world today.
The masterclass is delivered through a combination of in-class lectures,  discussions, practical & theoretical sessions, peer-learning and review, one-to-one consultations with the instructor, as well as field shooting and in-class editing and processing.
Over the course of an intense week, participants will find their knowledge and expectations tested to their limit, as they hone their photography, editing and storytelling skills, overcome various challenges and further develop a personalized vision and approach to their photography. At the end of the OBSCURA masterclass, the participants be empowered and connected to a wider network of fellow photographers, editors, curators and cultural managers.



Participants of the masterclass are required to:

  • Be able to attend the masterclass for its entire duration of August 18-23, 2018.
  • Bring examples of past or ongoing projects for in-class portfolio review. Sample works should be as closely representative of your photographic interests and direction as possible.
  • Provide for your own food, accommodation and transport fees, in addition to any costs from hiring fixers or translators.
  • Produce a photography series over the course of the programme, which will then be projected during the festival. Participants are highly recommended to research on and have several possible topics to shoot prior to attending the masterclass.



During this 5-day workshop, participants will be guided in the conception and realization of a personal photo project. You are encouraged to come to the workshop 3 days early to research and start on your chosen project. In the event that you are unable to arrive early to do preliminary research, you will still need to what you can remotely, this can include online research, emailing and making phone calls to establish contact if your project requires it. These approaches are relevant even if you are on location. Please attend the first session with a collection of 5 – 10 digital images of your work so far on the project idea/s you plan to develop during the week. You will be expected to present your work at this introductory meeting, where the presentation is an opportunity to convince, share and problem solve with the class and tutors the story that you would like to develop. To prepare for this, please write a proposal (max 200 words explaining: What your project is about? — Why it’s important? — and How you plan to shoot/produce it? For the second part of your presentation, please also include 5 – 10 images of a previously finished project that you would like to present to the class as an introduction to yourself. The presentation will be 10 minutes each followed by a short Q & A session. After that, mornings will be group sessions devoted to reviewing and critiquing the images you shot the day before. In the afternoons, you will head out to shoot and further develop your project. Ian will present a talk on the ways that photographers choose to define themselves through their work. The talk aims to provide a foundation on the various approaches available, and to explore their methods, it is essentially an overview and a guide in appreciating the plurality of photographic voices in the world. Perhaps a step towards finding your own voice. Explore the shooting process in its minutiae in order to better understand and learn from the process. Explore the various ways of editing and sequencing in order to reveal an integrated and dynamic narrative where ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’.
Event Details
  • Start Date
    August 6, 2018
  • End Date
    August 10, 2018
  • Location
  • Category