Photojournalism & Documentary Photography


Duration: 12 months

The 2019 course runs from:

30 January – 06 December 2019

Times: Mon-Fri 09h00 – 17h00
 (Students may be required to attend classes on Saturdays)

Cost: R21 000 for applicants from South Africa, the continent or from the Global South (emerging economies in Africa, Latin America and Asia). International students pay R60 325. Please note that a non-refundable application fee of R100 is required on application.

Financial Assistance: Limited bursaries available for applicants from the Global South.

About the Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Programme

The Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Programme (PDP) was established in 2005, with the aim of broadening the availability of photography training for aspiring photojournalists in South Africa, the sub-region – and further afield on the continent*. The PDP focuses heavily on inculcating a critical awareness of socio-political issues, cultural contexts, and contemporary media practices and perspectives, as they appear within the broader South African landscape. The methodologies and perspectives employed throughout the course are specific and contextual, and would suite students with a keen interest in African affairs. Students from other parts of the world who have a proven interest in exploring and documenting issues in Africa may also apply for the PDP. In keeping with the ethos of the Market Photo Workshop, there is a particular emphasis on recruiting learners from disadvantaged communities and from sectors of the media that may have limited exposure to important debates on photography (notably media in outlying and rural areas).

The PDP combines instruction in technical and conceptual issues with projects that enable students to sharpen their critical, research and interpersonal skills. Teaching is conducted in a context of ongoing debate about what it means to be a photojournalist at a time when social networking, citizen journalism and other threats to print media have made traditional forms of photo-reportage all but obsolete.

The programme comprises four terms, the first two terms are the most intensive, where students are expected to complete rigorous assignments set by trainers who are seasoned professionals within their areas of expertise. Classes are often interspersed with guest lectures and workshops, facilitated by highly qualified journalists, photographers and academics. The third term is largely devoted to internships in which students gain work experience at news organisations in Johannesburg and elsewhere. During the fourth term, students are given time to critique the work they’ve produced over the course of the year, while at the same time finalising their portfolios.

Training encompasses seven core modules designed to complement learning in photography with an appreciation of journalistic ethics, professional practice and visual literacy.

The modules offered in the course are as follows:

  • Photojournalism

This module is focused on honing the skills of students as journalists who are able to relay important news events to the public through photography. Students will learn to understand how news photos work and to appreciate the power of their messages. The primary goal of this module is to develop storytelling skills through single and series of photographs. Work produced in this module will be assessed on technical competence, creative execution and newsworthiness.

  • Documentary Photography

This module enables students to embark on extended documentary projects that are approached from various perspectives, and which test the ability of students to research issues, themes or subjects in great depth so as to produce informed and considered photographic bodies of work.

  • Multimedia and Multiplatform

This module introduces students to the production of work comprised of different media such as photography, audio, video, sound and text for public consumption through different platforms. While this is a highly technical module, it also puts emphasis on creative storytelling that is suitable for broadcast through various media platforms.

  • Visual Studies

This module will introduce students to the theory and practice of image making, focusing on the development of observational skills and analytical thinking. It will look at conventions of pictorial representation across time and cultures; discuss types of visual information and help students to develop a vocabulary for discussing images; explore visual narrative techniques and seek to expand an understanding of the role images play in our culture.

  • Professional Practice

This module is designed to prepare students to be entrepreneurial for freelancing and to be better prepared as possible employees. This will give students access to possible career trajectories within the world of photojournalism, multimedia and documentary photography. Ultimately students will be able to effectively plan, design and build their careers within photography through knowledge and experience gained from this module.

  • Technical Practice

Students are taught camera controls and techniques to enable them to become technically proficient in using a Digital SLR camera. Training is provided for both photography and video recording, and  the use of a tripod and a voice recorder. This module includes training in post-production and digital workflow.

  • Media Studies

This module is concerned with helping students understand mass media and its relationship to society. Here we look at the content, structures and effects of the mass media industry. This helps students to have a grasp and conception of the industry that they will possibly find themselves working within.


Important information for applicants:

  • The PDP welcomes applicants from a broad range of backgrounds, including:
    • Practising photojournalists and documentary photographers who would like to hone their skills
    • Persons with recognised prior learning in photography who wish to advance in the fields of photojournalism and documentary photography
    • Graduates in media studies or related fields

Persons applying for the PDP Programme should have a reasonable command of the English language

Fees include the costs of using entry-level professional cameras and other equipment from the Market Photo Workshop. The use of Market Photo Workshop equipment is mandatory and students are required to pay refundable deposits for each item of equipment that they book out. The use of equipment is closely monitored by Officer: Resources during the course of students’ studies.

Equipment deposits are currently set as follows:

  • Digital camera: R 345
  • Tripod/ Monopod: R 100
  • Voice recorder: R 150
  • External Hard drive: R 150
  • Long lens: R 400
  • Headset: R 150

Contact person for additional information on the PDP Programme: Tsepo Gumbi (

The PDP was initiated through the generous sponsorship of Getty Images. Most funding for the programme is currently provided by the agency and the Open Society Foundation for South Africa. Canon South Africa is a valued partner in subsidising camera costs for the course.

* Qualification will be determined by the application panel on receipt of supporting documentation from deserving applicants.