Learning Across Boundaries (LABs)

Documentary Photography Masterclass with The Obscura Festival

August 2018

A Summer LAB led by Tom White and Ian Teh

In this LAB, participants will attend a 5 day workshop (August 6 – 10) in Penang, Malaysia, with instructor Ian Teh, working alongside Yale-NUS instructor Tom White in partnership with the Obscura Festival of Photography. Each student will produce a portfolio in the form of a photo essay under intensive masterclass conditions. This portfolio will be presented in August (24-27) in the form of a public slideshow during the Obscura Festival of Photography in Penang, Malaysia to an audience that includes photography, media and art industry professionals, with students in attendance over a weekend visit to the festival.

Read about Ian Teh’s workshop here on the Obscura website.

DATES: 6 August 2018 –  10 August 2018 (Workshop) and 24 August 2018 – 27 August 2018 (Festival)

PARTNERS: Obscura Festival of Photography and Ian Teh

IAN TEH: Ian Teh has published three monographs, Undercurrents (2008), Traces (2011) and Confluence (2014). His work is part of the permanent collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) and the Hood Museum in the USA. Selected solo shows include the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York in 2004, Flowers in London in 2011 and the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam in 2012.

Teh has received several honours, in 2018 he was awarded a travel grant from the Pulitzer Centre for Crisis Reporting and presented his work on climate change at the prestigious 2018 National Geographic Photography Seminar. He is also the recipient of the International Photoreporter Grant 2016 the Abigail Cohen Fellowship in Documentary Photography 2014 and the Emergency Fund 2011 from the Magnum Foundation. 

In 2013, he was elected by the Open Society Foundations to exhibit in New York at the Moving Walls Exhibition. In 2015, during the COP21 Paris climate talks, large poster images of his work were displayed on the streets of Paris as a collaborative initiative by #Dysturb and Magnum Foundation.  He is a co-exhibitor in Coal + Ice, an environmental group show of acclaimed photographers and curated by Susan Meiselas. It was exhibited at the Official Residence of the US Ambassador to France during COP21.

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION: More information on co-pays and applications will be available soon. Please note that need and merit based financial assistance to mitigate these costs will be made available through a LAB financial assistance application process. We will work with every student to ensure that finances are not a burden if you wish to participate. If you have any questions in the meantime, please reach out to Annette Wu at annette.wu@yale-nus.edu.sg.



Application for this LAB is closed.



  • Photo Festivals are a crucial aspect of the industry, combining exhibitions, presentations, education and networking events. Held in August, the Obscura Festival is an accessible regional event with a pan-Asian focus and a global reach.
  • Attending the workshop & presenting at the festival will be a ‘baptism of fire’ for students interested in photography in general and documentary & photojournalism in particular, providing an experiential learning opportunity that will introduce – in a very practical way – many key concepts the students will critically engage with subsequently in curriculum based projects across the majors.
  • Obscura in particular is a community based festival, with good access to exhibiting artists and photographers, curators and other industry professionals. Networking opportunities will be manifold.
  • To experience presenting a portfolio in the form of a public slideshow during the festival itself to an audience that includes photography, media and art industry professionals, as well as general festival goers and the viewing public.


Aims, Objectives and Learning Outcomes: 

  • To participate in an intensive masterclass with a professional documentary photographer as an instructor.
  • To produce a portfolio of documentary photography on environmental, social & economic issues.
  • To engage in networking opportunities with professional photographers, editors, curators, publishers and artists form the region and the wider globe in the informal atmosphere of the festival, alongside formal opportunities such as portfolio reviews, presentations and talks.
  • To network with peers enrolled on the full-time photography course at Photo Studies Melbourne, who will also be attending a workshop during the festival.
  • To experience the vibrancy and culture of Georgetown, Penang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site during the Georgetown Festival period, which Obscura is an affiliate of.


Possible End Products :

  • To produce a portfolio of documentary photography.
  • Slideshow presentation of the portfolios to an audience that includes photography, media and art industry professionals.
  • Exhibition/Showcase at Yale-NUS.
  • Potential for publication.