What is Lightbox?

Lightbox is a yearlong course that aims to launch or develop the careers of the best in contemporary photography. Beginning with a series of intensive weekend workshops led by industry experts, Lightbox is designed to challenge assumptions, encourage reflection, nurture artistic potential and develop project skills. With collaboration at its core, Lightbox sees participants work in a group on a collaborative project with the guidance of an expert mentor, to culminate in a launch at an international festival in 2018.

This year’s group mentors are Nicola Shipley, GRAIN Photography Hub, Thomas Dukes, Curator of Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool and award winning photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews.

Do you have a query about Lightbox? Check out our FAQs section below.

Additionally take a look at this video featuring the most recent Lightbox groups and mentors.


1. Weekend workshops in Manchester, UK

On 6-8 October 2017 the course starts with an introductory weekend of workshops and networking sessions given by leaders in photography, the creative industries and the arts. The emphasis is on successful idea generation, collaboration and group working.

Subsequent weekend workshops with the full group go into more detail on key areas such as group working, project management, building confidence, exhibiting and publishing, digital media, marketing, and fundraising. Provisional dates: 4-5 November 2017, 20-21 January 2018, 3-4 March 2018.

2. Mentored group projects in Manchester, Birmingham and London

From November 2017 to summer 2018 the main group is split into three smaller groups, which are each assigned an expert mentor, and work on a collaborative project. The groups will meet regularly face to face and online, and have access to help and support from Redeye, to build the collaborative work into a finished project.

3. Projects presented at an international festival

Groups will have the chance to present the work at a festival; we are currently working with FORMAT Festival (off year) and Liverpool Biennial Fringe. We also have links to all other UK photo festivals if these are preferred. Groups will work with the festival producers as appropriate to produce a show that can be linked to the festival's theme.

Who is Lightbox aimed at?

  • Photographers - Lightbox is aimed at photographers who already have a high standard of photography and are keen to experiment and develop their work further. We welcome applicants from any area or genre of practice who are willing to collaborate with a group. 
  • ** New for 2017-18 ** Lightbox for Curators and Producers - We are opening Lightbox up to early career curators and producers who may wish to gain practical experience working closely with photographers and artists to produce an exhibition at an acclaimed arts festival. Curators/producers will attend all the training sessions with the other photographers. We anticipate recruiting three onto the course, each joining one of the smaller groups who will work together to produce their project/exhibition. 

Applications are open to photographers and curators/producers worldwide. But you need to be able to get to Manchester UK for the four main group weekends.

If you would like to talk to a Redeye staff member about your eligibility, email lightbox@redeye.org.uk

Career development

Past participants have told us that Lightbox is particularly useful in helping with the following:

  • Making long-term links with the creative community
  • Building confidence and reducing anxiety
  • Increasing the success of proposals, applications and fundraising
  • Improving the strength of ideas and artistic vision
  • Building employment and commission prospects

Selection Panel

Redeye is delighted to announce the following industry professionals as this year's selection panel:

  • Andy Adams of FlakPhoto
  • Karin Bareman of Autograph ABP
  • Ying Tan of Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art
  • Paul Herrmann of Redeye

See FAQs for more info on each of them.

How to apply:

Please download and fill out the Lightbox application and equal opportunities monitoring forms that can be found at the bottom of the page.

  • Photographers applying must also send 6 digital images (jpeg format, maximum size 3000 pixels in the longest dimension, maximum email size 10MB). The selection of images sent is entirely up to you but they should be representative of your best work and we recommend that they are not single images but connected images from one or two series.
  • Curators/producers do not need to send the images but can include samples of written work and past projects in the application form.

Send your application and equal opportunities forms along with your images marked Lightbox 2017-18 Application in the subject box to submissions@redeye.org.uk no later than 9am on Monday 3rd July 2017. We recommend that you write your information directly into the PDF forms, or alternatively copy and paste the headings into a .doc, .docx or .rtf format and fill in.

Please note there is a £10 administrative fee to apply to Lightbox 2017-18.  Click here to pay.

All applicants will receive short feedback on their application whether successful or not.

Applicants may be invited to a further Skype interview during the week commencing 24th July 2017. Successful applicants will be notified early August.

How much does it cost?

The full cost of taking part in the Lightbox course is £1900 per person. We are very pleased that thanks to the support of Arts Council England and other partners we are also able to offer bursary places at £450, £650 and £950 dependent on your income. These bursary places will be offered to as many successful applicants as we can who are on a low income. 

If you wish to apply for a bursary place, please download and fill out the bursary form that can be found at the bottom of the page, and send along with your application form to submissions@redeye.org.uk

We can accept monthly payments via direct debit between September 2017 and February 2018. If you are interested in paying in instalments, please inform us via email once the place has been offered.

All prices include VAT @ 20%.

What have people said about Lightbox?

Some comments from the last cohort in 2015-16:

"There’s nowhere else in the UK where you can learn about contemporary photography from experts in the field, and collaborate with other artists on a national and local level." - Tristan Poyser

"Lightbox [gave] me the kick up the ass I needed to get going on personal projects." - Karen Rangeley

"A great chance to invest in yourself and get your work seen." - Simon Bray

"Lightbox gave me the chance to focus on something new and challenge my work in ways I haven’t done in years, which was very refreshing." - Zuza Grubecka


Supported by

Photo credit: Zuza Grubecka, Lightbox 2015/16 participant. 


Lightbox is aimed at any serious photographer looking to launch, develop or progress a photographic career. We are interested in photographers who are committed to their practice and who understand the value of collaboration. You don’t need any formal qualifications, but you should have some experience of working on group projects and be making photographic work to a high standard.

Lightbox is also aimed at any curators or producers seeking an opportunity to work directly with a group of photographers on a final exhibition or project. You may already have experience of managing a small project from idea to final realisation but wish to develop your skills in bid writing, project management and curating.

You could have just finished an undergraduate degree, be looking for a new challenge, or have recently gained some recognition you’d like to capitalise on.

You need to be 18 or over to apply but there are no other age restrictions. Have a look at the video to get more of an idea.

The eligibility criteria for Lightbox are deliberately loose. We encourage as many people to apply as possible, and we try to take on as many participants as we are able to.

Having said this, we are looking for photographers who are practising at a good standard – who are fully technically competent and have a strong portfolio or body of work. Lightbox is aimed at the strong contemporary photographers, and it is important that applicants who participate are practising at a level sufficient to embark on the collaborative project.

The same goes for the early career curators/producers as we are looking for people that are serious about their work, and who can show a level of commitment to collaborative practice.

Past participants have said that motivation is a really important factor - you need to be ready and willing to move your career to the next level.

Participants need to pay the £10 administrative charge on the bottom of the website (you will need to be logged in). Then fill in the application and equal opportunities form that can be found at the bottom of the same website, and if applying as a photographer, send six digital images, by 9am on Monday 3rd July 2017.

We leave this up to you, but we recommend that you send what you believe to be your best six images from recent work. Six images related to one or two themes or projects are better than six unrelated images.

Remember; only send in photographs if you are applying as a photographer, not a curator/producer.

Yes, definitely. In which case make sure you make that very clear on your application form, and also let us know whether you anticipate finishing the course as one or the other, or if you are undecided.

Don’t worry! Most of the questions have a 500-word limit on them. We don’t expect you to write an essay, and we certainly don’t expect you to be a writer. We just want to get a better idea of where you are up to, what experience you have had, and why you want to apply for Lightbox.

If you’re really struggling, get in touch with us via lightbox@redeye.org.uk at least two weeks before the deadline and we’ll do our best to help.

We will notify participants in early August. You may, at this stage, be asked to take part in a Skype interview with the Redeye team on the week commencing 24th July 2017. We aim to notify all successful participants by late August 2017.

The number of applicants that are accepted onto the course is based on the number of people who apply. We will accept as many participants as we have the capacity for, who we feel are eligible and will benefit from the programme. This year we are aiming for between 15 – 20 participants.

The four full-group weekends are in Manchester city centre so you will need to travel to Manchester and stay over. We recommend that you book accommodation for the weekends if you are too far away to commute.

If you do require accommodation, we will be announcing our accommodation recommendations nearer the time to help you find somewhere suitable at low cost. You will need to fund your own accommodation during this period.

The course is designed so that photographers throughout the UK can participate. We have specifically chosen mentors from the North West, Midlands and London.

Each smaller group is likely to have a monthly face-to-face meeting. You will need to make provisions to travel to these six meetings in the location they are set (North West England, Midlands and in or near London). Other than that, participants can have meetings via Skype, online and over the phone.

It is also possible for groups to arrange meetings throughout the UK, to ensure that no one participant is required to travel more than others.

Yes! Lightbox is designed so that participants are able to maintain work commitments alongside the course. We do expect all participants to attend at least three of the four full group weekend workshops. You need to make sure you are available during these dates.

Most participants tell us they need roughly a day a week, and more during busy periods, for the Lightbox group projects.

If you want to participate in Lightbox but aren’t sure you can afford it there are a few options available.

If you are on a low income – you can apply for a bursary place. Bursaries are awarded on a case-by-case basis and can reduce the price of Lightbox by between 50%- 75%.

To apply for a bursary, you will need to fill in the bursary application form and send it to submissions@redeye.org.uk along with your application. More information about the bursaries can be found on the information sheet that can be downloaded on the Lightbox event page.

Additionally, we offer staged payments for all applicants of Lightbox - equal monthly payments by direct debit from September 2017 to February 2018.

Andy Adams

Andy Adams is an independent producer and publisher whose work explores current ideas in photography and visual media. He is the Editor of FlakPhoto, a website that promotes the discovery of photographic image-makers from around the world. In his spare time he hosts the FlakPhoto Network, an online community focused on conversations about photography, arts and culture. Find him on Twitter @FlakPhoto.

Karin Bareman

Karin Bareman (b. 1982, Hulst, The Netherlands) is Exhibitions and Projects organiser at Autograph ABP as well as an independent writer, moderator and curator currently based in London. She previously worked as assistant curator at Foam, the photography museum in Amsterdam. She has co-curated and produced many exhibitions, including most recently the critically acclaimed showcase Gideon Mendel – Dzhangal. Her next exhibition, A Shared Journey – Artworks by Underage Refugees, is commissioned by the British Red Cross and will be on show at the Oxo Gallery during Refugee Week 2017. Her essays have appeared in Camera Austria Magazine, Foam Magazine, Unseen Magazine, Of the Afternoon Magazine, EXTRA Magazine, and have been published on American Suburb X, and Photoworks. She contributed a chapter on Dutch Photography to The History of European Photography 1970-2000 Vol. III, published in autumn 2016.

She has been an online portfolio reviewer for the Kaunas Photo Festival in Lithuania from 2012 to 2015, a portfolio reviewer at the Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography in 2014, and an external examiner at the Fotoacademie in Amsterdam in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Karin served in 2015 as a jury member for the LensCulture Exposure Awards and for Redeye's Lightbox program. She moderated a panel discussion on the topic of The Publisher as Exhibitor as part of the 2016 edition of the Unseen Photo Fair and Festival in Amsterdam. She will be serving as a jury member for the Royal Photographic Society in summer 2017.

Ying Tan

Ying Tan is currently the curator at Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA), where she is in charge of the annual programme of exhibitions, public programme, as well as national and international touring shows. She has curated numerous exhibitions in CFCCA, in addition to many other off-site projects in London and internationally. This includes the co-commission of Haze & Fog with Cao Fei (2013), as well as UK premiers of What Happened in the Year of the Dragon (2014) with Sun Xun and Xu Bing's Book from the Ground (2003-present). She is a visiting lecturer for Christie's Education (UK) and a contributor to KALEIDOSCOPE Asia Magazine. She was also on the curatorial faculty for Liverpool Biennial 2016. Other recent projects include: Floating Cinema (UP Projects, London), Asia Triennial Manchester 2014 (UK) as well as Curating each other (Connecting Space, Hong Kong).

Paul Herrmann

Paul Herrmann is the director of Redeye, the Photography Network. Redeye has supported hundreds of photographers in every different genre to develop their photographic work and careers through a programme of events, courses, professional development, commissions, collaborations, business advice and information. Paul started out as a freelance editorial photographer in the 1980s specialising in social issues, politics and the arts. Alongside Redeye he’s set up a range of photographic organisations and projects including the Look festivals in Liverpool, Lightbox and the National Photography Symposium. He’s also currently chair of the British Photographic Council, and has recently set up the Photographic Collections Network for photography specialists, archivists, scholars and historians. He talks, writes and advises on a range of business and professional issues in photography.

We understand that people's circumstances might change and occasionally they are no longer able to take part in the course. If at any stage you wish to withdraw please give us at least one week's notice by writing to lightbox@redeye.org.uk. Staged (direct debit) payments are due on 15th of September 2017 to 15th February 2018. Any staged payments already made or due cannot normally be refunded.

Email lightbox@redeye.org.uk with the subject ‘Lightbox query’ and we’ll aim to get back to you within two weekdays.

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