Documentary Photography

Documentary Photography

Photo: © Tilak Hettige

Photographers who are interested in being photojournalists should first master a good understanding of documentary photography—the art of documenting human patterns, livelihood in their social and cultural setting. The techniques discussed will lead to the creation of better documentary photographs for publication.

This workshop teaches the participants the theory of documentary photography and allows them to gain experience to undertake documentary photography though assignments enabling them to investigate and report on social and personal issues of interest. There will be ample opportunity to discuss issues and sub-genres relating to documentary photography. The Lecturer will choose a project topic for you to create a documentary photographic series with the guidance given in the workshop.

Throughout the various stages of the workshop constructive suggestions will be given by the participants and the lecturer to strengthen the project’s quality. Work-in- progress will be critiqued considering the objective of the project, and techniques used. Vocabulary of visual perceptions in documentary photography will also be introduced. Participants will also be able to study well-known documentary photographers through research and practice techniques they used to create a presentation, which will be discussed by all participants at the end of the workshop.

Topics include:

  • introduction to documentary photography and comparison with propaganda photography
  • an understanding of techniques used by masters in documentary photography
  • how to improve visual structure of your images and practical tips on day-to-day documentary photography

Number of participants: Maximum of 15.

What to bring

Each participant should bring the following for the first lesson:

  • Digital SLR
  • Wide-angle lens, telephoto lens
  • Flash (prefer a separate flash from the camera)


To take this course you should have a basic knowledge of photography and camera operations.

Schedule and Venue:

Day 1 Part 1- 6:00 PM–8:00 PM, PCCI Studio A and B Introduction, briefing, short lecture, and slideshow

Day 2 Part 2: Location shooting (morning 6:30 a.m. onwards)

Part 3: Classroom meetings at PCCI (afternoon)

Day 3 Part 4: Location shoot and class room meetings at PCCI (until 3 p.m.)

Day 4 Part 5: Continuation of the final assignment at home. Students can avail of instructor's assistance by cell phone or email. Students can also avail of PCCI's facilities to complete their assignment. Appointment is necessary.

Graduation: Date to be announced

About the Lecturer

Tilak Hettige grew up in Sri Lanka and was attracted to the art of photography from an early age. He began to work in the photography industry in 1980 in Sri Lanka. He moved to the United States in 1984 and worked in the industry for many years. He studied at New England School of Photography in Boston. Tilak first won international recognition when he became the Photographer of the Year in the International Photographic Society, Washington D.C. in 1997. Since then, Tilak has traveled to more than 50 countries and worked on numerous and varied photographic assignments. His work has been published in several media and also as creative fine arts internationally. Images from his many solo exhibitions (mostly recently in Seoul, Korea, Kyoto, Japan, Washington DC, USA and Manila, Philippines) can be found in several prominent private collections across the globe.

When Tilak is not traveling on assignment, he resides in Manila and conducts monthly photography workshops. He is also a contributing editor of the photography magazine IMag. His published books include New Eyes: An Inner Vision to Photography, Saffron Robes: A Photographic Essay on Buddhist Monks, Tilaka: The Spiritual Third Eye.

Note: This is a special class. Our regular discount options (e.g., for alumni and groups) do not apply.

Comments from participants

Very good workshop. Tilak and his works are very inspiring. Lessons are clear and the projects really push you to grow as a photographer.

– Alan Kristoefl De Ramos

I enjoyed the class. Tilak is a great sharer of experience, which helps us gain more insight on how to document a subject. In a few days, I got to know other participants well; it is because the atmosphere and learning environment was relaxed and conducive to learning.

– Marie Bismonte

It helped me gain the ability to tell a certain story through my photos which is what I need for my competition in December.

– Stefanie Christiane Rivera

It really changed my views on taking photos. It's not just a one click, but every photo is a HISTORY.

– Leonardo C. Concepcion

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