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Image Credit - Sharbendu De

Where do Ideas Come From?

Visual Storytelling using Staged and Constructed Photography



The days of the 20th century ‘decisive moment’ (a phrase coined by Henri Cartier-Bresson) in today’s 21st century post-modern post-truth world, if not gone, is heavily contested. The notion of a singular truth is reductive. The widely established photojournalistic and documentary photographic practice formerly tied to the pursuit of ‘truth’ and representation of ‘facts in an unmediated manner’ — by often resorting to spectacles — has largely mined citizens of their last reserves of empathy. After 180-odd years of the existence of photography and us going around the world playing the image-warfare game, where does photography (and us) go from here? Let us teleport ourselves a few decades into the future, halt, turn back, and look at the visual trail we would have left behind. In that infinite black hole of imagery, will it look like shadows expunged out of a monstrous photocopier—everything appearing singularly linear? Or will we sight something that resisted easy categorisations?


This five-day interaction will focus on ideation and exploring creative approaches to visual storytelling using the staged and constructed genre of photography. Through a mix of lectures and free-flowing conversations using literature, philosophy, poetry, music, visual arts and moving images, this workshop is intended to help emerging South Asian photographers arrive at new and freer ways of thinking.


Using an interdisciplinary approach, we will delve into enquiring ‘Where do ideas come from?’ But ideas are influenced by our thoughts and perceptions which are influenced by everything we expose ourselves to through acts of reading, listening, watching and our immediate socio-political-cultural environments often unknowingly adopting societal biases and prejudices. They shape our representations.


So, is it enough to be a good craftsman, to become a good photographer or a visual storyteller? But what defines ‘good’? Neither easy categorisations nor notions of singularity helps. How do we migrate from being a ‘photographer’ to a ‘thinking photographer’? In these freewheeling semi-structured sessions, we will explore myriad avenues to ideation, research, explore alternate approaches and practices, and collectively attempt to resist dominant tendencies to ‘capture moments’ in the hope of finding a new path.


Structure: We will have two sessions of 3-4 hours each day. We will also be doing research, reading, watching films, reading poetry and listening to music. In a nutshell, walking towards refinement of ideas. On the last day, the participants will present their final ideas followed by discussions.


Note: Participants are expected to be self-motivated and undertake extensive readings at their own behest.

About Sharbendu De

Sharbendu De (b. 1978) is a lens-based artist, academic and a writer. He has an MA in Photojournalism from the University of Westminster, London (2010) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi (2004). Alongside his art practice, De presently teaches photography and visual communications at Sri Aurobindo Centre for Art & Communication, New Delhi. For close to a decade, he taught photography at AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia. He has delivered lectures, artist talks and workshops across Delhi University, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Sanskriti Pratisthan, IIT-Mumbai, IIT-Hyderabad, IIT-Delhi and University of Chicago Centre in New Delhi.


In 2018, Feature Shoot recognised De as an Emerging Photographer of the Year. He has received grants from the India Foundation for the Arts (2017), Lucie Foundation (2018), Prince Claus Fund & ASEF (2019), MurthyNayak Foundation (2021) and KHOJ (2021). He was also shortlisted for Lensculture Visual Storytelling Awards (2019) and Lucie Foundation’s Emerging Artist of the Year Scholarship (2018) among other nominations. De’s works have been exhibited across Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi (2020-21), Shrine Empire Gallery, New Delhi (2020), PhEST, Italy (2020), FORMAT, U.K. (2019), Serendipity Arts Festival, India (2019), OBSCURA, Penang, Malaysia (2019), MOPLA, Los Angeles (2019), Voies Off Awards, Rencontres d'Arles festival, Arles (2018), Indian Photography Festival, Hyderabad (2018), Tblisi Photo Festival, Georgia (2018), Goethe-Institut (Mumbai & Delhi; 2016 & 2017), Photo Kathmandu (2016), Econtros da Imagem, Portugal (2016) Diesel Art Gallery, Mumbai (2012) and Ambika-P3 gallery, London (2010) among others.


De’s ongoing series An Elegy for Ecology (2016-) dealing climate change, particularly global warming and air toxicity, premiers at the Asian Art Biennial 2021 Phantasmapolis organised by National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan. His former conceptual series Imagined Homeland (2013-19) and Between Grief and Nothing (2015-16) have been widely exhibited.


The artist grew up in the idyllic Andaman & Nicobar Islands but presently lives and works in New Delhi, India.


13 December Monday to 17 December Friday / 11 am - 1 pm & 2 pm - 4 pm (IST)

Online via Zoom Meeting

Rs. 5,999 INR


Interested participants should apply with a portfolio of 15-20 images on a single theme. The deadline for acceptance is November 26th, 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. Successful applicants will be informed via email on or before November 28th. A minimum of 7 participants are required to run this workshop.


Email us at for any questions.

*This workshop is for photographers who have a cohesive body of work or on-going projects that they would like to develop to the next stage.

5 Days Visual Storytelling Masterclass with Sharbendu De

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