About the Program


International Photography Program Bangladesh 2015

“Photography in all its incarnations is a universal and individual mode of expression whose role in the 21st century is crucial. I rediscovered Bangladesh when I reviewed the portfolios of top students at Pathshala. As the images do not betray the inherent truth of the person who captured them, for us they are the open books in which I read easily the personality of the photographer. In each of these portfolios, I saw the potential of a thinker, a philosopher, a poet, a revolutionary.”

-Reza Deghati, Photographer and humanitarian.

The word Pathshala, the traditional Sanskrit word for a seat of learning, was generally associated with the shade of mango trees in open fields. There were no walls, no classrooms, no boundaries, except children gathered to listen to wise folk. It was wisdom being shared in its purest form, through oral traditions. There wasn’t a single credible organization for higher education in photography in the region. An opportunity for learning had to be created. One had to be built: Using the language of images as a tool to challenge the western hegemony and to address social inequality, Pathshala began to put in place the building blocks to make it happen.Fuelled by a revolution against social injustice, the whirlwind around that vortex has taken on not only a tired education system steeped in bureaucracy, but also the global, seemingly impenetrable, photographic industry.


Why Pathshala?

Pathshala is the early school of Photography in South Asia region, which offers various short-term and long-term educational programs including workshops and presentations in photography and multimedia journalism throughout the year. Pathshala started in 1998. Since then, the institution has slowly grown to become a fully-fledged photo resource centre based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The name Pathshala comes from the ancient education system that prevailed in South Asia. It brings to mind classes held underneath a large tree; conjuring up learning spaces without walls, in the cool shade of its leaves. The South Asian Media Institute of Photography not only allows students to explore the world of image making but provides them opportunities to question beyond the confines of the discipline. The conceptual absence of classroom walls enables 1st year students and 3rd year students to attend the same classes and work together on collaborative projects together with visiting faculty. This enhances and complements each student’s learning experience. From its modest beginnings Pathshala expanded attracting students from within Bangladesh as well as outside. The school has a rich heritage of photography education, celebrating over 16 years. Our students are drawn from a wide range of backgrounds nationally and internationally. They have been awarded and widely recognized by organizations such as World Press Photo, Alexia Foundation, Joop Swart Master Class, Ian Parry Scholarship, Sony World Photography award etc. Pathshala is a distinctive multimedia educational organization that has made challenging social inequality its central driving force. Over the last sixteen years Pathshala has successfully partnered with national and international organizations and educational institutions to conduct several successful socially responsible programs. Inherent in Pathshala work is this ability to use the power of photography and multimedia to educate, inform and draw powerful emotional responses. Pathshala augments and builds on this strength through a wide network of global and local collaborators. This broader and extended practice of utilizing the entire range of visual culture combined with new media has extended its reach and influence. The Institute also offers courses and educational programs to domestic and international clients: individuals, companies, and organizations. Many of the graduated photographers have become internationally renowned photographers and the number of students that have joined the World Press Photo Master class is unusual for any photography education in the world.

The department of photography of Pathshala is recognized as an institution offering the highest quality education in photography currently available. Through regular assignments and projects the students are encouraged to master their art.

Pathshala had the privilege to work in collaboration with the prestigious organization in the early days. World press photo foundation, British Council, Panos Institute, Thomson Foundation and Free Press Unlimited (FPU), Goethe Institute and Alliance Francaise – have all contributed significantly to the Pathshala’s success over the Years. Now, Netherlands, Australia, China, Indonesia, Nepal, Norway and Pakistan will also be paving the way for a school that has matured beyond its years. Pathshala is currently conducting exchange programs with Oslo University College (OUC) Norway, Edith Cowan, Queensland College of Art and Griffth University in Australia to give Pathshala students a cross-cultural experience in order to enrich and broaden their horizon. The long-standing affiliations with Sunderland University, Bolton University, the Danish School of Journalism and Erasmus University offer a scope for a world-class education. On the Local frontier, internship opportunities at Drik, Chobimela and Drik News offer on-the-job training that later becomes invaluable in professional career. The regular participation in international festivals and workshops provide a world-view essential in understanding, interacting and becoming established in the global marketplace.


Pathshala will offer International Photography Program 2016 in two different destinations where the students’ will be able to explore the spaces in a more dynamic way and will provide assistance to experiment in developing their body of work. The first phase of the program would be held in Kathmandu, Nepal where the duration would be for three months and later the second phase of the two months would be conducted in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The program is designed in an intense level for the students where they could accomplish to create a personal voice and it will help to exchange thoughts and ideas in their very own visual expression in Photography, through a traditional, intimate and informal learning method.


International Photography Program

“You’ve done an amazing job and the problem is that you keep getting better and better – particularly Pathshala. I am in photographic education. I genuinely believe that Pathshala is the best photographic institution in the world right now, and we all aspire to be that.”
D.J. Clarke, Director of Visual Journalism, Asia Center for Journalism; Lecturer, University of Bolton.

Marking a step in contemporary photographic practice, Pathshala has started to offer a 6-month International Residency Programme for international photography students who aspire to develop a personal voice and their very own visual expression in Photography, through a traditional, intimate and informal learning method.

The first two months of the program will focus more on technical aspects, with students brushing up on their skills in a range of different visual styles, formats and approaches. From the very first week, the idea of “the street as a theatre” is explored, and the students will work on transferring their technical skill and knowledge to an aesthetic context. The program is broadly based around the use of images as a powerful storytelling tool, and various techniques are explored in this context: working with artificial light and flash, genres of portraiture, space and landscape. The students will be assigned to produce photographs every week, which will be discussed and critiqued in regular group-review sessions.

The third & fourth months will focus on developing visual narratives, using different methods and taking conventions of storytelling into discussion. Starting with linear, non-linear and thematic storytelling, participants will arrive at contemporary narrative constructions. The stories will be constantly questioned and reviewed, to push the taboos on photographing social issues, personal stories and fictions. The context of regional photographic history plays a key role in helping to understand this part of the world and give it alternative visual representation.

Comprehension will be developed to understand the world from deep-within and varied perspectives. The residency program aims to inspire different practices of photography and internalization of specific ways of seeing.

The participants will work towards achieving certain level of sensibility in photographic practice, which may organically grow as emotive response, instinctive expression or conscious and intellectual acts of art.

The fifth month is designed for the participants to develop their personal bodies of work with regular reviews by the tutors. They will be able to make the most of their presence in this part of the world by traveling outside of Dhaka or indeed Bangladesh; and Pathshala’s partner organizations in India, Nepal and Myanmar can provide advice and support during these travels. 

Along with reviewing and editing the projects from the fifth month, the sixth month will be based around a further two practical workshops, each five days long: one to be held in Old Dhaka (Puran Dhaka) and one to be held outside of the city, at the world-famous Cox’s Bazaar beach.

The residency program will be taught entirely in English, with faculty consisting of some of finest photographic practitioners and teachers worldwide, including Shahidul Alam, Abir Abdullah, Munem Wasif, Tanzim Wahab and Sarker Protick, as well as other renowned international artists.

The Program participants will live in a shared residence next to the school (common boundary wall) which is comfortable, intimate and fully-furnished. The residence not only facilitates security but also them allows the students to stay together to maximize exchange of ideas and thoughts. The close proximity to Pathshala also allows them to make full use of the campus’ Studio, Computer Lab, Wi-Fi, Darkroom, Library and other logistic support on a daily basis, including on weekends.

The work of Pathshala students is remarkable for its range, but there is underlying strand that binds it together: a firm belief that the art of photography, cannot and must not, limit itself to the aesthetic alone. The compulsion to address wrong, regardless of the vocabulary of the art, is what holds this creative chaos together.

Unlike other schools of photography, Pathshala has been able to accommodate and thrive on this diversity. Freed from the need to conform, unencumbered by role models other than in ethics and philosophy, each artist has found a unique signature, where the greater signature of the school only becomes apparent when one steps back to see the bigger picture.