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The Island Documentary Photography Workshop in Thailand 2016 - Workshopx Documentary Photography Workshops Photojournalism

The Island workshop – Thailand, March 2016




Join us and explore the social reality of the famous Ko Phangan island where workshopx editors Aleksander Bochenek, Grzegorz Ostrega and Tomasz Kulbowski will be joined by an award winning photojournalist Alex Masi to hold an intensive, in-depth documentary photography workshop. During the 7 days of shooting and photo editing, we’ll try to document and analyze what is hidden behind the idyllic Western myth of a tropical paradise and the idea of modern, global tourism.

This workshop project is designed for photographers who want to start and/or to improve their skills in the field of documentary photography and storytelling through live experience, and who are not afraid to raise critical questions about the world we live in.

During the workshop you will cover a chosen aspect of life on the island while attending extensive daily editing and critique sessions with four experienced tutors, who will help you build a coherent visual story. Starting our work in advance of your arrival, we’ll help you choose and prepare a subject for your workshop assignment that best suits your fields of interests and your needs.


Date: 18 – 24 March 2016 (7 days)
Place: Ko Phangan island, Thailand
Number of participants: 6 – 12

Applications closed.

For inquiries contact:



The workshop is designed for photographers interested in developing their documentary, photojournalism and storytelling skills. You will work under the personal guidance of award winning photojournalist Alex Masi and the workshopx editors Aleksander Bochenek, Tomasz Kulbowski and Grzegorz Ostrega.

During the 7 days in Ko Phangan you will cover a chosen aspect of life on the island, combining intensive individual shooting with on-the-ground exploring and extensive daily editing and critique sessions. You will also attend guest tutor’s lectures on their own work and problems regarding photography, the shooting process and working on a project.

Over the course of the workshop we will become a team that has a common aim: that of making you a conscious photographic storyteller, one who is well-equipped for future field work and ready to handle the ever-changing situations and difficulties that photographers come across when working on a project.

The IslandPhangan1

Ko Phangan is an island in the Gulf of Thailand (Surat Thani Province), famous mostly among Western backpackers for the monthly Full Moon Parties and the yoga and meditation centres, where people from all around the world pour in to be in an imaginary paradise. A whole industry has been built around this. During the peak season you can come across all kinds of local and foreign healers, fire breathers, tattoo artists, DJ’s and other characters involved in what is known as alternative lifestyle. There is also the local, everyday life of course, but the whole island is more or less directly connected to and dependent on this characteristic form of tourism, which has a significant impact on the social reality of the place.

In March 2016, the full moon night is on 22th.

How to get there: the easiest way is to fly with Air Asia from Bangkok (Don Mueang Airport) to Surat Thani and then, cost included in the flight ticket, by ferry to Phangan island. See the google map.

Transportation on the island: there are regular, motorbike and shared (pick up) taxis available. To get to some places you may also need to use long-tail boat taxis. To minimise transportation costs, many visitors rent motorbikes (scooters) available on the island.

The exact venue of our daily meetings will be determined soon.

Your story

The main idea behind the workshop and a thematic background for our learning experience is a visual analysis and documentation of what is happening on the island. We’d like to cast a critical but fair eye on this aspect of Western culture: the dream of a tropical paradise and freedom and the impact this tourism has on the local life.

Having a good subject for the assignment you will be working on during the workshop is important for us. This should be a story that is both fitting to your skills and one that you find exciting.

We will begin the process of deciding on your assignment for the workshop immediately after your participation has been confirmed. We encourage you to do your own research and consult with us on the subject of the story you would like to work on while in Ko Phangan. However, if you do not have your own story in mind, we will ask you to detail your fields of interest in order to help you find one that would suit you best.


Once the precise aims of your assignment have been established – its subject matter, details, goals and methodology – you will be ready to start work. A local coordinator will help us all navigate through the specifics of the island and you will be provided with all necessary information at our daily meetings.

After the first day’s briefing, you will be ready to go shooting. Over the following days you will work individually in the field, photographing and gathering the further information necessary to develop your story. You will also meet the tutors on a daily basis in the editing space at appointments that will be set according to the workshop’s schedule.

During the editing sessions we will go through your photographs and discuss them extensively. This is when most of the learning happens – in a process in which you will gradually discover your personal style and vision, clarify your message and build the plot of your story. In the initial stages of your work we will focus more on the technical aspects of your photographs and then proceed towards improving your storytelling skills. On chosen days you’ll also attend presentations by the guest tutors: Alex Masi will tell you how to work on short and medium term assignments and how to manage your long-term projects. Tomasz Kulbowski will introduce you to the issues related to approaching and photographing subjects connected with tourism. 

In the final editing meeting we will edit your photographs into a coherent and visually engaging narrative that may result in publication. From the first day we will encourage you to produce as complete a story as possible – but that will not be the only measure of your progress. Whatever the result of your final edit is, your primary goal will be going through and understanding the whole process behind building a successful documentary story. Along with the final edit, the last day of the workshop will be for summing up all you have learned, discussing the possible uses of your story and your future plans.


Phangan timetable

Please note that this schedule is prepared for the maximum number of participants (12). If there’s less students during the workshop, the schedule may be adjusted accordingly. The exact schedule will be e-mailed to the confirmed participants.




Guest photographer:


Alex MasiAlex Masi is an Italian documentary photographer deeply dedicated to social issues, especially by exposing peculiar issues of human-made injustice, public health and human rights. He strives to produce intimate, touching images aimed at sensitising viewers, and engaging them in positive, proactive action, hoping to assume the role of a catalyst towards a slow change in people’s behaviour and policy-making.
His images have appeared on publications such as National Geographic, Newsweek, The Guardian, The New York Times, Independent, Smithsonian Magazine, GQ,, Time Online, Foreign Policy, Vanity Fair, Marie Claire, El Pais Semanal, The Times, The National Magazine, Mother Jones, Al Jazeera and Suddeutsche Zeitung Magazin among many others. Alex Masi’s works have received numerous commendations and have been exhibited internationally.

Workshopx editors:

Tomasz KulbowskiTomasz Kulbowski for many years lived and worked in London and Sydney. He is currently based in Lublin, Poland, working commercially on event and documentary photography, mostly for artists and cultural institutions. Personally devoted to street photography, his work has been published in online and print magazines worldwide. Tomasz is the originator and director of the Eastreet exhibition and a jury member of the Leica Street Photo competition. Educator and promoter of street and documentary photography.


Aleks1 Aleksander Bochenek is a freelance documentary photographer based in Krakow. He is a co-founder of wokshopx, a member of the Polish Association of Journalists and a co-curator of the Eastreet exhibition. Since graduating in photojournalism from GrisArt Escola in 2008, Aleksander has travelled extensively, covered various stories and engaged in several long-term photographic projects. His work has been exhibited in Poland, Spain, France, the UK and the USA.


_MG_9645Grzegorz Ostrega is a photographer, journalist and editor based in Krakow, Poland. Before co-founding workshopx, he worked for the Polish quality paper Dziennik Polski daily and then for Southeast Asia Globe magazine, covering social issues. For a long time he travelled, photographed and lived in South and Southeast Asian countries. Now he focuses on teaching, photo editing and promoting documentary photography. He’s a co-curator of the Eastreet exhibition.





Please carefully read the whole document before applying.


Date and place: 18 – 24 March 2016, Ko Phangan, Thailand

Tuition (gross): 1600 EUR.
This does not include travel, accommodation or on the ground expenses.

Travel, personal safety & accommodation:
Participants make their own arrangements regarding travel, insurance and accommodation and ensure that they have all the necessary travel documents and relevant visas in order to attend the event. Please check carefully the Thai visa application process details for your country/nationality to avoid unnecessary refusals. Please apply for tourist visa. The organiser of the workshop doesn’t take responsibility for problems with visas and no tuition refund will be made for that reason.

Participants take full responsibility for their personal security during their journey to and stay in Thailand (please read the legal notes at the end of this document).

The workshop is designed for photographers with good understanding of the photographic process. Participants should arrive with working knowledge of their equipment and ready to shoot. The workshop is limited to digital cameras – during the critique and photo editing sessions we will use electronic equipment only. Having your own laptop is required. The workshop will be conducted in English.

Participants agree that photographs taken by them during the workshop may be used in workshopx on-line publications and promotional materials.

Application is made by e-mail: Please include: full name, address, phone number and link to personal website (body of work) of the applicant. If you don’t have a website, please attach a zip file with 12-20 photographs (800px wide jpg images) and a personal statement. Applicants will be selected on the quality of their portfolio and a first-come, first-served basis.

The deadline for applications is 5 March 2016. The workshop is limited to 12 participants.

The workshop will be fully confirmed to happen when we reach the minimum number of 6 participants. This will be announced not later than on 6 March 2016.

IMPORTANT: By applying to the workshop you agree to all information, requirements and regulations included in this document.

Full payment should be made within 7 days from receiving the request for payment to confirm your place. If payment is not received on time, the application will be canceled.

Cancellations and refunds:
In case the minimum number of confirmed participants is not reached on 6 March 2016, the workshop will be cancelled and a full refund of the paid fee will be made.

The organiser may cancel the workshop in case of serious constraints (anything that makes the workshop impossible to happen, like natural disasters in the area, etc.). In such an unlikely event, a full refund of the paid fee will be made.


1. Each participant covers the entire cost of participation in the Workshop and takes full responsibility for their actions. Especially, each participant is responsible for arranging personal and travel insurance for the duration of their stay in Ko Phangan. Neither the organizer nor its instructors nor its employees are responsible or liable for the safety and property of participants or their companions during their travel or stay in Ko Phangan or any undertakings within the framework of the Workshop.
2. Participant agrees to waive, release, and hold the Organizer, its instructors and employees harmless from any and all claims, demands, or suit relating in any way to the Workshop and work performed therein, including but not limited to any claim for personal injury or damage to property described in the first paragraph and any and all other claims based upon any legal theory, especially:
a. Theft, loss of, or damage to, property
b. Traffic accident
c. Illness or injury
d. Health problems
e. The event of death
f. Other events beyond the Organizer’s control.

At the initial meeting of the first day of the workshop every participant will sign the below statement:

I…………………………….. hereby declare that I read “General Information, Requirements and Regulations” (GIRR) of the Workshop in Ko Phangan (“The Island”) organized by Workshopx Ltd, A18, 8/F., Hung Fuk Building, 60 Hung To Road, Kwun Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong, CR No: 2340221, and I accept the conditions of GIRR.

Date…………… Signature……………