JULY 10-14, 2023, BOWEN ISLAND, BC

Join famed San Francisco photographic artist John Chiara for 5 intensive yet fun days of workshop intended for photographers who are looking to experiment with the purest form of analog photography while pushing the boundaries of their practice outside of the digital comfort zone. Whether you’re a novice, professional or enthusiast of photography, this workshop will display a raw, hands-on, alchemist approach to the medium you can keep building on for years. Known for making large scale photographs with hand-built cameras — the largest a 12 feet deep and wide Camera Obscura yielding unique organic photographs as large as 50″ x 80″ — Chiara will teach participants how to make one of a kind images using a variety of cameras and techniques.

During the first two workshop days, participants will learn how to hand-craft their own makeshift box cameras and take them out for a spin exploring the majestic Bowen Island landscape shooting onto direct positive black and white photographic paper (no negative) sized to their new equipment.

Chiara will also guide participants through a discussion on previsualization and other ideas on how to use the photographic process to empower them to envision the landscape around them unmediated (such as how to move beyond ‘framing’ without any viewfinder).

Using these techniques, participants will be able to slow down their approach and take all aspects of the scene into consideration to make single, original photographs that can simultaneously stand as image, object and document. Back at the FotoFilmic Space, Chiara will show participants how to develop their images using black and white processing methods.

The workshop will end with a group critique where participants will display all the images made in the workshop along with any other work they would like to show and receive feedback on.  There will be time for one on one conversations about the work with the artist. Participants will take home their own one-of-a-kind photographic prints.

Schedule: Meets in-person at FotoFilmic on Bowen Island on Monday July 10, Tuesday July 11, Wednesday July 12, Thursday July 13 and Friday July 14 from 9am to 5pm (hours subject to change).

This program is limited to 12 participants.

Cover image: © John Chiara, Grizzly Peak at Claremont, 2011.

© John Chiara, Topanga Canyon Boulevard at Pacific Coast Highway, Los Angeles, 2012.

© John Chiara, Coral Road at Carolina Street, 2018.

© John Chiara, Starr King: Mansell: University, 2015.

© John Chiara, Sawtelle at Palms, 2013.



John Chiara (b. 1971, San Francisco, CA) earned a B.F.A. in photography from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in 1995 and an M.F.A. in photography from the California College of the Arts in 2004. Chiara plays with the boundaries of the photographic medium through his choice of process and the mastery of its possibilities. His approach is distinguished by its physicality and recalls the early days of the medium when artists dealt with heavy, awkward equipment and endured long exposure and development times. Chiara’s large-scale cameras, which he designed and built himself, are transported to locations on a flatbed trailer to produce one-of-a-kind large-scale prints. The design of the cameras, which is much like daguerreotype box cameras, allows the artist to simultaneously shoot and perform his darkroom work while images are recorded directly onto oversized photosensitive paper (not film). This process, which Chiara first discovered as a student in 1999, invites anomalies in his final prints and adds to the mystery and lyricism of his pictures. In 2011, the Pilara Foundation in San Francisco commissioned Chiara’s Bridge Project which was included in the Pier 24 Photography group exhibition, HERE. John photographed extensively in Los Angeles in 2011, and, in 2012, Chiara was one of 13 international artists’ whose work was included in the exhibition Crown Point Press at Fifty at the de Young, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The Pilara Foundation again commissioned Chiara in 2013, for the group exhibition A Sense of Place at Pier 24 Photography. Chiara spent much of 2013 photographing the surrounds of  Mississippi, culminating in an exhibition in the Delta town of Clarksdale as well as a book entitled, Coahoma County, Mississippi (ROSEGALLERY, 2015). John Chiara lives and works in San Francisco.



Nestled in spectacular Howe Sound, North America’s southernmost fjord surrounded by towering peaks that rise straight out of the sea, Bowen Island (Nexwlélexwm is its native Squamish name) has been Vancouver’s paradisiac getaway since the 1900s. This enchanted island is known for its exceptional serenity, centennial parks, artistic culture, and laid-back country living a short 20-minute ferry ride from West Vancouver.

FotoFilmic has called Bowen Island home since 2015, and currently hosts all its in-person mentoring programs there at the FotoFilmic space conveniently located in Artisan Square. The large 1600+ sq ft venue is set up to accommodate a wide range of hands-on artistic activities and lab type experimentations, while also acting as a photography gallery. The island’s lush natural settings yearlong, its small and relaxed coastal town feel and few amenities all combine to offer an immersive, inspiring and nurturing retreat experience unlike any other.

FotoFilmic acknowledges, with gratitude, that the land on which it operates is the unceded and ancestral territories of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Nation.




Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Monday, May 22, 2023

 $1695 USD
Past Attendee:
$1395 USD
$850 USD

* subject to 5% GST (Good and Services Provincial Tax)

[ Early-Bird applications are closed (Nov.21, 2022) ]


Applicants selected to register must confirm their participation by sending either a $850 USD tuition deposit, a scholarship registration payment, or a full Regular or Past Attendee tuition payment.

If choosing to send a registration deposit, the remaining tuition balance will then come due in full by Wednesday, May 10, 2023.

If interested in a payment plan, requests must be made by Friday, March 10, 2023 to Bastien at Payment plans are cost free, and schedules can include 3 to 5 terms max. Please also note that all payment plan payments remain non-refundable.


Flights, local transportation, accommodations and meals are not included in the registration fees. A detailed information packet will be sent to confirmed participants to help coordinate their stay on Bowen Island, inclusive of on-island accommodations options (single or shared), local transportation directions, a list of restaurants and other amenities available, and general island life tips.

Meets in-person at FotoFilmic on Bowen Island on Monday July 10, Tuesday July 11, Wednesday July 12, Thursday July 13 and Friday July 14 from 9am to 5pm (hours subject to change).

FotoFilmic Space
103-555 Prometheus Pl
Bowen Island, BC V0N 1G2


Applications to register are free (no fee to apply). Enrolment will be limited to just 12 participants. Photographers from all educational backgrounds and at all career stages are welcome to apply (film & digital). A portfolio of 10-20 images focused on past and/or ongoing projects must be submitted as a prerequisite for consideration (please include images from no more than 2 different series/projects).

Scholarships Note: Whenever possible partial scholarships are first made available to underprivileged and/or underrepresented applicants. Other key evaluation criteria are: 1. artistic quality of the work submitted 2. demonstrated potential for long-term impact and development in the photographic field, and 3. motivation to learn in a group setting. Scholarship applicants are also required to briefly describe how their current situation relates to these criteria in the added scholarship application form field.

Applications are reviewed on a weekly basis, with regular email communication from reception to final decision. The entire review and acceptance process usually takes 8-12 days from the day your application is received.


The deadline to withdraw your participation and request a refund is Monday, April 10 2023. Please note a $500 USD cancelation fee remains applicable. Cancelation and refund requests received after April 10 will not be accepted.

In the event the program was not meeting minimum enrolment, or needed to be canceled for any reason, paid tuition will be refunded in full without any cancelation fee. Please also note FotoFilmic cannot be held responsible for any traveling expense refunds if the program gets canceled: purchasing travel insurance is therefore highly recommended.


For any questions or inquiries, please contact FotoFilmic Co-Director Bastien Desfriches Doria directly at