Now in its 7th year, the Northern Lights Masterclass sets itself apart with its long-term and in-depth approach to helping working photographers improve all aspects of their creative and business practices for success in today’s challenging marketplace. Developed in cooperation with Noorderlicht and LensCulture, the masterclass aims to help participants develop as photographers and marketers of their own work.

Deadline for applications is March 22, 2017. It is free to submit your application, but those who are accepted must pay the total fee of €1,975 (ex VAT). 12 photographers will be selected to participate. You can apply here.

“We started the Northern Lights Masterclass because we saw too many good photographers struggling with the rapidly changing market for documentary photography. Instead of providing quick feedback, we wanted to provide more profound insight into what photography’s relevance is today and to use those insights to build stronger careers for the participating photographers.”
-Marc Prüst

New Strategies for Photographers

Photojournalists and documentary photographers can no longer count on the traditional buyers for their income: rates have dropped for archive sales, and the number of assignments has gone down dramatically. But that does not mean that documentary photography is “dead” or even “in decline.” Photographers are now able to initiate, create and publish their own projects, by using many new tools that are available. The Northern Lights Masterclass is created around this idea: that photographers are able to take matters into their own hands and learn to work through the conception, creation, and publication of their own projects.

This masterclass is established to help a core group of talented, promising photographers develop new skills and refine their visions and strategies over an extended period of time. Not just a weekend, but a year-long, intensive program that aims to help photographers become even better at what they should be doing: making the right images for the right story, and getting those stories out into the world.

A group of 12 selected participants will meet over a period of 9 months at the editorial offices of LensCulture in Amsterdam. Under the guidance of Marc Prüst, Lars Boering and Jim Casper, participating photographers will be pushed to take the next step in their careers.

For each session, the group is joined by other masters who will share expertise and insights about their specialties in the photographic business. The masters are industry professionals who play leading roles within the community: directors of photography for magazines, international photography critics, award-winning photographers, collection consultants, art directors, new media experts, publishers, and others. Our aim is to give true insight as to how to move your career forward.

Meeting Dates in Amsterdam
First session: 26-27-28 May, 2017
Second session: 15-16-17 September, 2017
Third session: 9-10-11 February, 2018

During times between meetings, the participants and masters will also stay connected with each other via video conferencing and other means.

“The scope of this masterclass allows us to explore the possibilities and opportunities for each project in detail, with constructive input from the fellow photographers as well as from the diverse group of masters.”
–Jim Casper

Each photographer will work on his or her own project, discussing goals and strategies with the group, presenting work in progress, and critiquing each other’s work. In addition, fundamental topics will be covered in depth.

Topics include: the image (the heart of what it’s all about), the use of the light, composition, structure of a photographic image, and story editing. We will have in-depth sessions on the content of the story: journalistic elements like storytelling, ethics, research, and setting up a long-term project. We cover how to pitch stories to publications as well as commercial and non-profit agencies, and we explore other options for funding. And we focus on getting the story out there: preparing for publication or exhibition, introducing the work to the right people. Topics include some strategies for writing winning grant proposals, and we will introduce the participants to the principles and ideas behind the use of multimedia for photographers, an area of increasing importance in today’s marketplace.

Each meeting will be organized around group discussions and individual meetings aimed at developing the assigned project. For each session, two guest lecturers are invited to work with the group. In between the sessions Prüst, Boering and Casper will be available to answer questions, to direct participants to the right people in the business and to assist participants in the creation of their projects.

“I love meeting with industry professionals and the participating photographers during these sessions. Together they have profoundly impacted my own understanding of what it means to be a photographer today.”
- Lars Boering


Lars Boering
Managing Director at World Press Photo and Consultant
With over 16 years of management and leadership experience within the cultural, creative and social sectors, Lars has acted as adviser to photographers internationally, taught at masterclasses and academies, and has been involved as curator for festivals, museums, publishing houses and other institutions. He assumed the role of Managing Director for World Press Photo in January 2015.

Marc Prüst
Curator, Creative Director, Photography Consultant
Marc is active as a photography consultant, curator, and teacher. In these capacities, he edits books, creates exhibitions, teaches and organizes workshops and masterclasses, lectures and writes on photography, and—on an individual basis—advises photographers on how to develop their work and how to market it. Besides several unique curatorial projects, he is also the Artistic Director of the Photoreporter Festival in Saint Brieuc, France.

Jim Casper
Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder, LensCulture
Since 2004, Jim has been immersed in the world of photography, and sharing his discoveries with a worldwide audience that has grown to over 2.5 million monthly. He’s become an expert at presenting and promoting photography and visual stories on the web and via social media. He collaborates with photographers to create compelling edits and sequencing for their work, as well as text and captions that engage readers immediately and help them gain deeper understanding and appreciation for the photographer’s stories and subject matter. Jim serves on several award juries every year, and is a board member of SPE, the Society for Photographic Education, the largest association of photography educators in the world.

Guest Lecturers
These guest lecturers are scheduled to participate at various times throughout the masterclass. Please note that these experts lead busy and complex lives, and their participation may be subject to change.

Francis Hodgson, author and photography critic known for his writing for The Financial Times
Adriaan Monshouwer, former World Press Photo secretary
Magdalena Herrera, photography director of the magazine GEO France
Rob van Bracht, art director and marketing strategist
Donald Weber, award-winning photographer and author
Claudine Boeglin, expert in multimedia development and promotion

If you want to know more:

Contact Marc Prüst
[email protected]

Deadline for applications is March 22, 2017. It is free to submit your application; those who are accepted must pay the total fee of €1,975 (ex VAT). 12 photographers will be selected to participate. This is based on a project initiated and developed by Noorderlicht Photography in Groningen. You can apply here.

Notes from previous participants

“One of the most positive things was the focus on how the many facets of the industry are very different and require different approaches. Additionally, the focus on the changing media landscape and how photographers can stay in the game helped me recognize where photography could play a role in my career future. The portfolio reviews and honest questions and feedback were useful in me developing my work.

Some of the skills learned at the Masterclass were helpful in my designing, funding and executing a project called Along the Pipeline. This project was featured in several prominent publications and traveled across Canada as an exhibition. It has played a solid role to raise awareness in the environmental and activist scene in Canada. ”

— Robert van Waarden

“During the Northern Lights Masterclass I realized how far I had strayed from my path as a photographer. I have been a freelance photographer for 20 years, fortunate enough to travel the world for NGO’s and travel magazines.

Still, in recent years I found that I was merely starting to see photography as a job, instead of a burning desire. I was doing al kinds of work for money, of course happy that I could live off photography. But more and more I missed the connection to the passion that I started with; mainly I was taking photographs to pay the rent.

The very personal sessions with our masters, but also the interaction with other participants in the same situation, made a big impact on me. I realized that the reason why I started photography had been my desire to create, to show the world through my own eyes. I saw the whole commercial thing had taken over and I did not want that anymore.

It has taken a few years, but now I have said goodbye to all assignments that I did only for financial reasons. I have started to teach photography two days a week to students of journalism, which allows me to be financially independent and only accept assignments that fit me.

Moreover, I have started to work on my own projects, something I could never fit in before. The last two years I have worked on a photo book, that I am crowdfunding right now. Marc Prüst has been involved in this and introduced me to a graphic designer. My project just got funded by VSB fund, which means that it is very likely to succeed. You may find the link to the crowdfunding page here, it is in its last weeks:

— Bas Jongerius

” I very much enjoyed the range of teachers we had. A great range in expertise and experience. The internationality of the teachers. The diversity. What I loved a lot was the small exercises Claudine Boeglin gave us. Be practical and cross the border between photo and mutlimedia (sound/video).

— Meike Seele