Magnum Photos Blog
Ajax loader
South Pacific Photo Workshop with Eli Reed
June 14, 2013
by Eli Reed
August 5 - 11, 2013
Seven-day, Six-night Workshop
Dumaguete City, Philippines
Organized in Cooperation With Foundation University

Cost of Workshop: $2,875.00
All meals, hotel accommodations and local transportation are included.

Flights to and from the workshop site are not included.

Limited to 12 participants.

The old badjao fisherman sat cross-legged at the bow of the outrigger boat. Bobbing in placid waters we spoke little. He scanned the surface for signs of life stirring from the deep as we drifted across the Sulu Sea. He gazed at the azure sky, and I photographed him gauging an uncertain future in the shifting clouds and current. Change is inevitable and photographers catch the passing of time. At the edge of the world, I let the rippling waters swirl through my fingers, feeling so good and bad at once - like a burst of split-second exposures, preserved or lost forever in time.


We will meet you at the airport when you arrive in Dumaguete, which is an hour-long, 300-mile flight south of Manila to the island of Negros. You will be taken to Foundation University and participate in a brief group orientation before settling in.

We meet in the evening with a celebratory welcome dinner and introduce master photographer Eli Reed, who will give opening remarks and a slide show lecture about working in Dumaguete. We encourage participants to stay after the presentation and get better acquainted with Eli and the South Pacific Photo Workshop staff.


We begin early with breakfast on campus and go straight to an instructional session with Eli. He will talk about vision and style, photographic thought processes and execution, and developing the skills and instincts that will dramatically improve your photography.

The morning session will include a review of fundamentals and your familiarity with the cameras you brought. We encourage questions in this session as the workshop shifts quickly into high gear with a tight schedule of fieldwork that emphasizes maximum time on location making pictures.

After lunch, we hit the streets of Dumaguete City, winding about a half-mile to Rizal Boulevard, a seaside esplanade lined with historic, colonial-era homes alongside trappings of 21st century enterprise, including food stands and trinket vendors, the bustling port, and hotels, restaurants and bars.

The scene along the seaside boulevard remains in constant and chaotic flux, with people passing and going - presenting in 360 degrees visuals unlike any other place. We will spend the entire afternoon shooting there and witness an ebb and flow of humanity along the shore, in the harbor and at sea.

As dusk settles, we return to the university with a quick stop at the Dumaguete Bell Tower, a 202-year-old, moss- and fern-covered stone spire that was built as a lookout for marauding pirates. Today, the tower serves as a religious grotto where the Roman Catholic faithful gather each night to light offertory candles and pray.

Dinner will be served on campus, and workshop participants are encouraged to spend the evening downloading files, editing and working up photos.


We begin at the crack of dawn with participants ready to go to the Dumaguete Public Market promptly at 4:45 a.m. Coffee and pastries will be served before we embark on a quarter-mile walk to downtown.

At the market you will encounter the unique sights, sounds, smells and vibe of a bustling market in the developing world. At times, it won’t be for the faint of heart. You will venture tight passages and walk amid vendor stalls of fresh meat, fish, poultry, produce, grain, flowers and sundries. Immerse yourself in the surroundings and get some great images along the way.

By mid-morning we return to campus where a full breakfast will be served. You should take advantage of the time after breakfast to do more lab work.

After lunch, we will take a bus into the nearby volcanic mountains that jut dramatically up from the coastal plain. We will visit Pulang Bato (Red Rock), a watershed of stunning beauty where a raging mountain stream forms a series of falls that push ribbons of whitewater through red and black rock. This location, which was recently reshaped by a series of typhoons that brought heavy rainfall, provides a glimpse of how nature sculpts the island environment. We linger in the mountains until dark and then return to the university for dinner.

Later in the evening, we will gather at an audio-visual auditorium on campus to screen and discuss your work thus far.


Today, we catch the sun rising over the Sulu Sea. We begin again at the crack of dawn with a return to the Dumaguete waterfront. The sun rises bright and hot, directly due east and straight up from the sea. More often than not, billowing clouds frame the scene, with fishermen casting nets at first light and beachcombers scavenging shallow, reflective tide pools.

Eli will talk about light - how to see it, shape it and capture it. And you will use that knowledge immediately as you capture in pictures the start of a new day.

We return to campus by 9:30 a.m., have breakfast, and hold an open discussion from 11:00 a.m. to noon.

In the afternoon we set you up with your own pedicab, the ubiquitous vehicle that serves as local mass transport and basically consists of a covered sidecar welded onto the frame of a motorcycle.

You are free to direct your driver around town to shoot scenes that we have visited together or to strike out on your own. You may stay out until the evening, and we will pair you up with a personal fixer to help you navigate around town and translate the local dialect when necessary. We hope you come back with something that shows your personal point of view.

The day concludes with dinner at 8:00 p.m., followed by a screening and further discussion of your work.


We start with a leisurely breakfast at 9:00 a.m., and you will receive a briefing on a daylong trip to photograph the rice harvest at Foundation University’s experimental farm in the nearby town of Tanjay.

Upon arrival at the farm, we will split into small groups and venture into rice paddies with golden stalks of ripened grain. We will see traditional agricultural methods, and watch farm workers thresh the harvest, separate chaff from grain, and pack the rice into 100-pound bags.

In the late afternoon, university students will join us for portrait shoots of local people in native Visayan attire.

The workshop concludes with dinner and a cocktail party back at campus at 8:00 p.m. We will view a multimedia presentation of all participants’ work - a copy of which will be given to you.


After breakfast or lunch, you will be transported to the Dumaguete Airport for your morning or afternoon return flight to Manila and onward.

More Information