Holy Week of Puglia: Photojournalism Workshop by Manoocher & Ursula

  • Valle D’Itria, Italy
  • April 05 - 13, 2020
  • 6 spots

Join world renowned photojournalist Manoocher and his wife Ursula, an archaeologist and chef, on their farm estate in the south of Italy for a week of photography and storytelling during the region’s traditional Holy Week celebrations, from the eery Quarantana to the moving “Processione della Desolata.”

US $3,180/ person. Includes accommodation in trullo.

The Experience

This VAWAA takes place in the picturesque Valle d'Itria in Puglia, Italy on Manoocher and his wife Ursula’s small-scale farm estate and vineyard. This ten day experience in visual storytelling is an opportunity to learn and improve your photography skills in an intimate group under the tutelage of Manoocher, a world-renowned photojournalist with more than 40 years of experience. We will be focusing on the traditions and rites of the Settimana Santa (Holy Week) in Puglia, and the subsequent Easter celebrations. Puglia is a region of unparalleled religious traditions, with plenty of local variations and peculiarities. Participants will visit and photograph beautiful towns and churches, as well as unique processions and ceremonies.

As an archaeologist and passionate cook, Ursula will prepare historic meals from the region's past and present with locally grown ingredients, as well as the wine and olive oil they produce themselves.

Meet Master Photographer Manoocher 

Manoocher is an award-winning photographer and photojournalist. He got his start photographing the revolution in his native Iran, and he has been documenting news, conflicts, and social and environmental issues around the globe ever since. Featured in publications ranging from Newsweek to National Geographic, Manoocher’s photography has helped tell the story of world events for over 40 years.

Meet Master Chef Ursula

Ursula is an archaeologist and avid cook who has combined her two passions as an expert in historic cuisine. She teaches the history of food and cooking in the southern Italy region, spanning from antiquity to the Middle Ages to the early Modern Era.

Itinerary for Settimana Santa in Puglia

This VAWAA will take place over a period of ten days, with a half day theoretical session (adaptable to the participants' skills and interests), and shooting assignments, visits, and outdoor activities.

Sunday, April 4: Arrival and welcome

Sunday, April 5: Palm Sunday in Locorotondo – Benediction of the palm branches (olive twigs, actually), the Quarantana (lent witch), traditional palm Sunday lunch. In the afternoon: Slideshow and comments on photography, photojournalism and review of portfolios of the participants.

Monday, April 5: Shooting assignment in Polignano a Mare. In the afternoon: The role of art history in photography and editing: Why are pictures important for humanity? When and how did it all start? How does art history and our perception of aesthetics influence our choices in photo editing? Why is it important to be aware of it? Review and discussion about the previous day’s photos.

Tuesday, April 7: Visual story telling. Review and discussion about the previous day’s assignment. In the afternoon: The Medieval cave village of Lama D'Antico and its churches with Byzantine frescoes.

Wednesday, April 8: Shooting assignment in Ostuni. The technical aspects of photography: composition, light, exposure. Review and discussion about the previous day’s assignment.

Thursday, April 9: Ethics – What ethical guidelines are important in photography and editing? Review and discussion about the previous day’s assignment. The night of Maundy Thursday in Martina Franca: At midnight between Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, the statue of the Virgin is carried by hooded and barefoot members of traditional confraternities.

Friday, April 10: Review and discussion about the previous day’s assignment. 7pm Passione vivente (life passion) in Alberobello, among trulli.

Saturday, April 11: Holy Saturday morning – Processione della Desolata in Canosa: hundreds of women dressed in black, their faces veiled, hold a procession in commemoration of the sufferings of Mary, Christ's mother Easter Eve: Il Sparo della Quarantena: On that evening the Quarantana (lentwitch) is burned, marking the end of lent. Later that evening, as the beginning of the Easter liturgy, the Easter fire is lightened and blessed in front of all churches.

Sunday, April 12: Easter Sunday is a day of celebration within family, which is spent eating and drinking throughout the day. We will have a traditional Easter lunch.

Monday, April 13: Easter Monday / Pasquetta – Literally everybody is out on that day for the traditional, sumptious Easter picnic. Evening: Review of the participants' assignments and evaluation of the experience

Tuesday, April 14: Departure

The Details

Dates: April 05 - 13, 2020

Pricing: USD $3,180/person

Availability: Limited to 6 spots


  • 11 days, 10 nights VAWAA. Arrival April 4. Departure April 14.
  • Accommodation in a trullo (a traditional beehive-coned stone house typical for this part of Apulia) on Manoocher and Ursula’s estate.
  • Breakfast, traditional Palm Sunday lunch, Easter feast, and traditional Easter Monday picnic.
  • Introduction to visual storytelling through photography with Manoocher.
  • Excursions to the towns and religious sites of the area, including Palm Sunday in Locorotondo, the Medieval cave village of Lama D'Antico, Ostuni, and more.
  • Participation in the traditional religious ceremonies of Puglia, such as Palm Sunday, the procession of Maundy Thursday, the Processione della Desolata in Canosa for Holy Saturday, Easter celebrations, and more.
  • Please list any special needs or considerations (double/single room request, accessibility needs, food preferences, allergies...).
  • Flights and travel insurance are not included.