SIMON NORFOLK Workshop “All About Light”

Kunst Haus Wien, Vienna  

June 24-27, 2016

Open Call

Kunst Haus Wien and Still/Moving are delighted to announce a photographic workshop with Simon Norfolk. The workshop will be held between June 24-27, 2016, in conjunction with Norfolk’s participation in the group exhibition “Seen on Earth” at the Kunst Haus Wien. It will be based in the extraordinary rooftop apartment of Hundertwasser above the Kunst Haus Wien but participants will be shooting throughout the city of Vienna – mainly at night!

The workshop – what to expect

“I'd like to go out with you looking for some light. This is what I do when I’m working for National Geographic, New York Times Magazine or the New Yorker, so I think it might be useful for photographers to come with me and see it in practice. Finding light is what occupies me most when I’m in the field. For a location, the city’s peripheries seem to me more interesting than any other part; those places where the city falls away into the suburbs and the countryside, where the Urban starts to crumble. In these places I feel like I’m seeing behind the facade and I think for photographers, it’s a rich territory. The poet Paul Farley calls them, ‘complicated, unexamined places that thrive on disregard,’ and my favourite writer Robert Macfarlane says ‘The edgelands are the debatable space where city and countryside fray into one another.’ This is where we’ll be exploring in this workshop.  

For photographers, learning to think about light divides four ways: 

1) You need to see the need for it, 

2) Know where to look for it, and 

3) Know how to capture it.

4)…. is the most important but, I’ll come to 4 in a moment

Not many people are good at 1, 2 and/or 3.

This masterclass involves working four days alongside me, beginning with classroom sessions in the daytime, photography shoots in the evening light and then back out again for a bright and fresh 3.30am start for the pre-dawn light. I’d like to work at night because it’s a good level playing field for the class (most people don’t do much night photography so everyone will have to get thinking); it forces people to think afresh and attendees are profoundly surprised with how much they get out of it. 

What we’re not going to do:

Some people run classes by telling you to go out and take pix, giving them a quick critique and then send you out again and take some more. I don’t do this, it’s too easy.

What we’re going to do:

I’d like you to start thinking about my class before you arrive. I approach these classes as if they were an assignment from a magazine and I pre-plan and pre-shoot them like a magazine shoot. I’ll be showing you just exactly what I mean when I say how to pre-plan them and how to pre-shoot. We’ll be going out taking pictures on a couple of nights, depending on the weather. We’ll decide these when we meet on the first day. So we will be working long hours and we will be working a ‘broken’ kind of day as I do when on assignment i.e. we may be starting in the classroom during the day, finishing early, meeting again around the time when it goes dark and taking pictures into the night. We might shoot until 10pm and then go to bed. Then we meet again at (maybe) 4am and take pictures until 6am (maybe). My preference is to then have breakfast and then go to bed again for a couple of hours. It isn’t possible to start at 4 and then stay awake all day. Don’t try. The class will resume in the classroom late on those days to compensate for the early start, maybe at noon? Don’t make plans to do other things because our plans are weather/idea dependent and may change.

The classroom time will be more like formal lectures. I’ll be showing you my work (a bit), some inspiring painters (a lot) and, because it is much more interesting, explaining why I make work that looks the way that it does. This might mean talking about 18th century philosophy, the invention of Tourism, why English country gardens look the way they do or telling you who my favourite archaeologist is. I hope when you see my work it will show that I’m only ever interested in photo technique as a tool in pursuit of some other storytelling. I really couldn’t care less if you take photos using a cardboard box or a 10x8. This is the all-important Number 4… why are you using light; why are you telling me this story? As a landscape photographer, light is not the story, but it is the most important part of the story-telling. I wouldn’t shoot a story about the tragedy of Auschwitz on a morning in late spring when the place is full a sweet sunlight and wild flowers; I wouldn’t shoot a story about the beauty of the Arizona desert at noon in the heat of a blistering summertime. The light we choose, as landscape photographers drives forward and underlines the story we are trying to tell. But to do this we have to be certain what our story is. Why am I making this picture and not some other? I don’t expect you to make great pictures during my class, but I do expect you to do some great thinking, have a great time, be stimulated and get a bit closer to answering the question in the future; ‘why am I taking pictures?”’

June 24-27, 2016: Four day workshop

June 27, 2016, 7pm: Closing evening and presentation

About Simon Norfolk

Simon Norfolk is a landscape photographer whose work over the last ten years has been themed around a probing and stretching of the meaning of the word 'battlefield' in all its forms. As such, he has photographed in some of the world's worst war-zones and refugee crises, but is equally at home photographing supercomputers used to design military systems or test launches of nuclear missiles.

His work has been widely recognised: he has won Le Prix Dialogue at Les Rencontres d'Arles in 2005; The Infinity Prize from The International Center of Photography in 2004; the Foreign Press Club of America Award in 2003: and he was winner of the European Publishing Award, 2002. In 2003 he was shortlisted for the Citibank Prize now known as the Deutsche Börse Prize.

He has produced four monographs of his work including 'Afghanistan: chronotopia' (2002) which was published in five languages; 'For Most Of It I Have No Words' (1998) about the landscapes of genocide and 'Bleed' (2005) about the war in Bosnia. The most recent is 'Burke+Norfolk; Photographs from the War in Afghanistan.' (2011)

He has work held in major collections such as The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, The Getty in Los Angeles and the collection of Tate Modern.

He has been described by one critic as 'the leading documentary photographer of our time. Passionate, intelligent and political; there is no one working in photography that has his vision or his clarity.'

Simon Norfolk was born 1963 in Lagos, Nigeria, and lives and works in Brighton.

More information:


The workshop will take place in Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s extraordinary apartment, on the roof of the Kunst Haus Wien. The 5th floor space, which he designed for himself and features an undulating floor and a spectacular roof garden complete with mature trees, will provide an inspiring space for the sharing and discussion of work.


Untere Weissgerberstrasse 13

1030 Vienna


The participation fee is € 600,- (excl. 20% VAT) for four days.

Min. 11 participants, max. 15 participants

Once participants have been selected they will be expected to pay a non-refundable deposit of € 300,- within ten days. Participants must then pay the remaining balance one week before the start of the workshop.

The price includes:

  1. Tuition from Simon Norfolk

  2. Daily meal (most likely breakfast) and closing evening dinner

  3. Assistance from the Kunst Haus Wien production team

  4. Portfolio review with the curator of the Kunst Haus Wien

Students’ discount
Two discounted places are available for students for € 450,- (excl. 20% VAT)

Participants should make their own travel plans and find their own accommodation. We recommend the nearby Ruby Sofie Hotel (special Kunst Haus Wien artist rate for Euro 69,- incl. breakfast) or AirB&B.

How to apply

Please send a brief text about yourself, a brief text about your work and why you think you would benefit from this workshop, up to 20 Jpeg images (use and a link to your website if available to

22 May, 2016: Final deadline for applications

27 May, 2016: Announcement of participants’ selection

For further details concerning the workshop, please contact

or see

© Simon Norfolk

The harbour of Reine, island of Moskenesøya, part of the Lofoten Islands, arctic Norway.

©Simon Norfolk

The Duomo seen from the cave churches and abandoned homes on the far side of the ravine cut by the river"la Gravina"

The City of Matera

Basilicata, Italy

©Simon Norfolk

EISCAT (European Incoherent Scatter) Scientific Association.

Also at the Ramsfjordmoen site near Tromso is the MORO radar operated by the Univ of Tromso. it is for the investigation of Polar Mesospheric Summer Echoes (PMSE) and Polar Mesospheric Winter Echoes (PMWE)

©Simon Norfolk