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Documentary 3.0



A laboratory for documentary photographers to learn concepts d develop skills to increase audience engagement

September 16-December 31, 2019

LiveZEKEDocumentary 3.0 is a new learning experience designed as a laboratory for documentary photographers to learn concepts and skills to make a project come alive and increase audience engagement. The laboratory will be directed by Glenn Ruga, founder of the Social Documentary Network and Executive Editor of ZEKE magazine. Ruga is also the founder of LiveZEKE-- launched at Photoville in 2016—a concept that for the first time brought subjects of a documentary photography project into real-time conversation with gallery viewers. In this case, the subjects of the documentary were in the South Caucasus, 6,000 miles and eight time zones away from Photoville in Brooklyn, NY.

This laboratory will begin where traditional still-based documentary ends. You have terrific photos exploring an important theme. You have extensively researched the topic, you have testimony, maybe audio or video. Now you want people to not only see your project, you want people to gain awareness, become motivated, to act, and make change. This laboratory will help you develop new concepts and skills to achieve that.

The lab will bring together a diverse group of creative visual storytellers with the goal of developing the tools to bring still-based documentary to the next level. All options are on the table for exploration and mastery; sound, video, drones, web applications, exhibitions, publications, community and political advocacy, media, social media.

Lab participants will help each other by passing on the skills that they are expert at with other participants. Glenn Ruga, the lab director, brings expertise in only some of these areas. Skill development will be achieved by all participants working both independently and together and outside experts being brought into the lab as needed. 

What is unique about this lab?

  1. The lab will work collaboratively on one documentary project.
  2. Participants can submit a project for lab consideration along with their application.
  3. All participants will consider themselves “learners” and be open to exploring new technologies, concepts, skills, and solutions.
  4. Credit for completed project will be distributed equally.

Schedule: September 16-December 31, 2019
The Lab will meet a minimum of once a week via remote conferencing and once a month in-person in the Boston area (one meeting may be in NY). Frequent communications among participants is expected using remote communications.

Participants must be available to attend four day-long meetings and be available to participate in other production-related activities as needed. Most work for the lab will be done in your own location while working towards a collaborative outcome.

The maximum class size is nine participants plus the facilitator. An application is required. Participants will be selected based on quality of prior work and how their skills will complement and contribute to the overall lab. Proficiency in still photography, experience in documentary, and comfort with digital technologies required.

Experts in certain areas relevant to the class will be brought in as needed.

Project selection
Lab director will select one project that has the best chances of success, either drawing on the ideas submitted by applicants or proposing another theme. Project ideas submitted by applicants should be a project in at least early stages of development, with some visual resources and text available. The person whose project is selected will remain on equal status with all other lab participants.


  • Proficiency in still photography, experience in documentary, and high comfort level with learning new digital technologies
  • Functioning laptop computer and access to reliable high speed internet
  • Digital camera with sound/video recording capability
  • Access to Adobe Creative Cloud or similar set of photography, sound, and video editing software.
  • Participants should expect to work 4-8 hours per week, with a greater load toward end of year.

$1,500 USD

One full and one partial scholarship are available.

Attendees agree to pay all travel fees in addition to class fee. Travel is required to attend four day-long meetings in the greater Boston area (one meeting may be in New York) and possibly for project production. Lab will provide breakfast and lunch during in-person meetings.

Payment schedule
$25 non-refundable application fee, credited towards fee if accepted.
$200 deposit following acceptance
$650 payment by August 28, 2019
$675 payment by September 15, 2019

Refund policy
Full refund minus $100 for withdrawing up until two weeks prior to start of lab.
Full refund minus $150 for withdrawing one week following first meeting.
No refund after one week following first class.

Application Deadline
July 22, 2019
Applicants will be notified by August 6.
Confirmation of acceptance and deposit ($200) due by August 15.
Applications may be waitlisted and if spots open up, they will be notified after August 15.

Participants should expect to begin work on Tuesday, September 10.

Conference Calls:
Conference calls will take place Tuesday evenings from 7:00-8:30 pm unless the lab collectively decides to choose a difference time. Additional lab conference calls may be scheduled as needed.

The first conference call will be scheduled for Tuesday, September 16.

In-person Meetings:
9:30 am – 5:30 pm

  • Saturday, September 28
  • Saturday, October 26
  • Saturday, November 23
  • Saturday, December 14

In-person meetings will be in the greater Boston area, although one meeting may be in New York.

In the event that the project continues into 2020, the lab director reserves the option of passing full responsibility for project continuation onto a committee of students.


Rules of conduct: All lab participants are expected to act professionally and respectfully towards other participants and refrain from any type of abusive behavior. While lab participants may have different political beliefs, all beliefs should be respected while the lab is in session, and it is understood by participants that they are engaging in this experience to learn concepts and skills regardless of different personal objectives. Smoking tobacco products of any kind during scheduled meeting times is prohibited.

Nondiscrimination: This lab does not discriminate.

Privacy: Any information collected during the application process is strictly confidential and will not be shared with any third party. The lab director will share name, email, and phone number for all participants with other participants.

Lab Application, Scholarship Application, and Payment

Applications must be completed by July 22.
Click here to access application and payment page


Your application into the program is considered at the same time as your scholarship application and follows the same schedule.

One full scholarship will be awarded
One half scholarship will be awarded as a TA applicant (Technical Assistant)

The scholarship application is included in the standard admission application.



Contact Glenn Ruga at glenn@socialdocumentary.net