Join Canon’s rising student stars at Visa pour l’Image 2020

A group of students and a mentor at Visa pour l'Image discuss the images on the table in front of them.
As part of the Canon Student Development Programme at Visa pour l'Image photojournalism festival, students have the opportunity to show photo editors their portfolio and receive feedback.

Following the development of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 will see the first digital edition of the Canon Student Development Programme. This unique three-day educational initiative runs during Professional Week at Visa pour l'Image photojournalism festival.

It's an industry opportunity like no other, giving the next generation of photojournalists the chance to learn from their heroes. "The purpose of the Canon Student Development Programme is to expose future professionals to the reality of the industry, shining a light on their skills and creativity, discovering and sharing the best in contemporary photography," explains Canon Europe's Programme Director Luca Rocco. “Last year, we hosted over 240 students from 115 universities and schools. Thanks to the excellent results of the previous editions, in 2020 we are expanding the opportunity to students residing other countries, including those in Eurasia, Middle East and Africa – offering further evidence of Canon’s dedication to the new generation of professionals.”

"Visa is the best platform in the world to meet professionals," says Visa's Director Jean-François Leroy. "In Perpignan, young photographers can meet people from The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Geographic, Stern, Paris Match – the whole world." Over the past 31 years, the festival has built a formidable reputation as the place to see outstanding, cutting-edge visual journalism. In this environment, you will be fully immersed in the professional photography world – and inspired by new ways of thinking and seeing.

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When admitted to Canon’s Student Development Programme, you’ll join an intensive programme of exclusive webinars and portfolio reviews with industry leaders, inspirational editors and Canon Ambassadors, and gain full access to the Visa pour l’Image digital platform. Each successful participant will also receive a limited edition book, featuring the photography of the 2020 Programme alumni.

A black-and-white shot of a young woman with a wearing a tweed jacket, covering her mouth with her hand.
This shot was taken by Mariam Giunashvili, a student attendee at Visa pour l'Image photojournalism festival in 2019. Now based in Tbilisi, Georgia, she enjoys documenting everyday life, people and raw emotions in her photography. © Mariam Giunashvili
Construction workers wearing red boiler suits hold up sheets of corrugated metal in a field.
Taken by Hannover-based Lando Hass, who also attended Visa pour l'Image 2019 as part of Canon’s Student Development Programme. The former advertising photographer turned photojournalist focuses on geo-political, environmental and human rights topics. © Lando Hass

Expand your skillset

Throughout, the programme will focus on raising the game of your visual storytelling, developing a strong authorial voice, and increasing the impact of your narratives, by hearing different perspectives debate the latest trends and developments shaking up the imaging industry.

In 2019, for example, Canon Ambassador Ilvy Njiokiktjien gave students a masterclass in the importance of using video to enhance your skill-set, starting with her earliest foray into motion, a World Press Photo-winning 2011 project, shot in Kommandokorps camp for Afrikaner boys in South Africa using a Canon EOS 5D Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV).

Tina Ahrens, a mentor on the 2018 and 2019 programme and director of photography for Philosophie Magazine, said: "I had the opportunity to engage with a diverse group of photography students from all over Europe, which allowed me to survey a wide range of photographic practices and examine emerging talents. In order to stay fresh and relevant in what we do as photo editors and photo producers, we need to regularly question and renew our approach to photography to ensure a healthy future for the medium. Spotting emerging talent is an exciting part of my work as a director of photography."

Thomas Borberg, Photo Editor-in-Chief at Politiken being filmed speaking about the importance of video.

How important is video to a future photojournalist?

With demand for video ever growing, how do the next generation of photojournalists feel about its creative uses and their ability to shoot it?

Gain inspiration from peers

For many students, the connections with peers and industry professionals forged in those three days at Visa set the foundations for their future network. Since it began in 2017, the Canon Student Development Programme has evolved to become bigger and better, bringing more than 500 students of over 30 nationalities from across Europe and Russia together. They’ve worked with more than 60 mentors from across the field – top journalists to photo editors, curators, photographers and Canon Ambassadors – to exchange knowledge and expertise.

Take it from Ksenia Kuleshova, who attended the programme in 2017: "The Canon Student initiative represents such a great networking opportunity, and it's not just about exchanging ideas and receiving feedback from professionals, it's about your motivation and reflection, to move forward once you are back home. I would definitely recommend to use all possible options and apply for the programme!"

Previous editions' speakers and workshop leaders included photographers Daniel Etter, Catalina Martin-Chico, Maciek Nabrdalik, Ivor Prickett, Brent Stirton and Giulio Di Sturco. Alongside these were photo editors from Politiken, GEO, Stern, Le Monde, the Guardian, fisheye, Polka, PHOTO France, Corriere della Sera, Internazionale, Magnum Photos, Agence VU, Maps, 6Mois and Reuters.

This year, for the first time, a cohort of younger mentors, made up of alumni from previous years alongside Canon Ambassadors, will join more established figures to discuss their recent career experiences.

A shot of a village taken through a woodland area.
Taken by Nathalie Posch as part of the portfolio she submitted for the Canon Student Development Programme at Visa pour l'Image 2019. Nathalie is a Vienna-based photographer who studied under Andrew Phelps at Salzburg University of Applied Sciences. © Nathalie Posch
The parish church of St. Lambertus being demolished in Immerath.
The parish church of St Lambertus in the village of Immerath in Germany was demolished in 2018. Taken from the Canon Student Development Programme portfolio of Daniel Chatard, a Franco-German documentary and portrait photographer from Hanover. © Daniel Chatard

How to apply

The programme is open to any student enrolled in an educational institution for the academic year 2019 to 2020. The programme is conducted in English, so proficiency in the language is highly beneficial.

Click here to apply. Submit a portfolio with one or two stories, each consisting of up to 20 fully captioned images, with an accompanying description or synopsis, along with details of your school, institute or university, a short photographer’s bio and, if available, a supporting letter of presentation from a professor or editor, before 31 May 2020.

To see more portfolios from former participants in the Canon Student Development Programme, visit our Visa pour l'Image event page.

Autor Rachel Segal Hamilton

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