Visualising Social Stories



The Visualising Social Stories (VSS) series of workshops, programs and presentations are designed and produced by Invisible Photographer Asia and Rights Exposure.


Visual storytelling is a powerful tool to increase understanding of social issues and to advocate for change. Whether you are interested in or already working on humanitarian, environmental or human rights issues, VSS workshops and programs will provide the tools you need to maximize the impact of your work.

Who is VSS Workshops and Programs for?

Photographers, image-makers, NGO/civil society professionals, individuals interested in image-making and/or social issues. Our workshops are primarily aimed at those who use or wish to use images as part of advocacy, awareness raising/educational, and fundraising campaigns. The content of the workshops are applicable to those working across a wide spectrum of issues, including human rights, humanitarian/poverty, environmental, and social issues.

VSS Workshops have been attended by participants from the following NGOs:

Civil Rights Defenders, Burma Partnership, Phandeeyar, Singapore Heritage Society, Home (The Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics), Aware (Association of Women for Action & Research), OXFAM and National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, Singapore.

Click to view and register for our latest Visualising Social Stories Workshops.


“The Visualising Social Stories workshop was a great opportunity to reinvigorate my passion for photography, and to learn new ways of using it in my work as a communications person for an international NGO. One of the challenges NGOs face in this age of social media is how to stand out from the din of images that bombard us every day, and this workshop presented us with new ways on how to identify visual connections with our target audience to craft more effective campaigns to get our message across. Coming from a photojournalism background, I was opened up to a number of other storytelling possibilities, and I look forward to applying these learnings in my job. Highly recommended for NGO workers, especially for those who deal with communications, advocacy, campaigns, or fundraising.” LJ Pasion, Philippines

“Robert and Kevin present a fantastic, thoughtful and practical workshop. Having opinions, input and knowledge from both the NGO/Activist and Photographer backgrounds makes this a really well rounded session.” Kasia Kolmas, Hong Kong

“You are going to learn a lot, in an interactive and fun way. Participants are not overloaded with information, but rather guided by two very knowledgeable facilitators in understanding how to effectively use visuals to increase the impact of social campaigns.” Lorenzo Urbinati, Thailand/Italy

“I attended the Visualising Social Stories workshop in Dec 2015. I found it to be enriching in challenging my views on issues involving ethics in photography and in the impact it made. Both Rob and Kevin were instrumental in getting us from the context of issues to implementation with building our very own campaign. Sessions on photo editing in the form of presenting ideas and establishing one’s message was also very useful to me. Both Rob and Kevin are professionals in their own fields but came together with their take on issues comfortably. It was a delight meeting like-minded folks within the workshop as well and partnering with them on issues that we were all passionate about. Thank you for a memorable experience!” Charlotte Lordes, Singapore

“Though I have attended a few other photography workshops, this is the first workshop of its kind available to me on Visualising Social Stories. I think it addresses a need that few photography workshops address for social campaigns.

The information provided and essentially the assignments really give a boost and confidence to even a beginner. I feel confident that I can possibly work on pictorial social stories even after just 3-days of workshop. And that’s quite a take back for me. Robert Godden is an excellent facilitator. Added to that, one benefits from his experience and background of having worked with many social campaigns and organisations like Amnesty International etc. The take up from the beginning to the assignments is very smooth with very factual information given out practically that there was never a moment of overload. The best is the takeaway from the learning achieved in the practical assignments.

It was a very exciting workshop. I think many NGOs and organizations in the social arena would benefit through this workshop by learning how to pitch their voice more effectively and visually. Kevin’s experience and information on photo stories gave a needed connection to story telling. It was great to have two excellent and supportive photographers, Robert and Kevin co-facilitate and complement the workshop. Thank you !” Shahnaz Ali, Singapore

“The workshop in many ways exceeded my expectations. The primer on visual story telling on Day 1, loaded with examples from 150 years of photography, was a treasure trove snapping open. I was stunned how stringent visual campaign professionals pursue work routines to achieve maximum impact, and are not afraid to define how the impact of a campaign can be measured. The examples illustrating strategies and tactics were well chosen and drew me into the subject matter.

Rob’s teaching style is engaging, alternating presentations to the class with show-and-tell, group discussions and team work. During team projects Rob and Kevin were listening in and supporting with advise and opinion. Interim and final presentations gave the entire group an opportunity to discuss the outcomes. The work process protocol we followed was clear and entirely fulfilled my expectations, but individual emotions triggered by campaigns were given equal importance, creating a balance between individual perceptions and universal templates.

I now feel much more confident to work with visuals than before. I can’t wait to look up all the projects mentioned in the class to learn more about the range of approaches. I am very much looking forward to upcoming classes!” Iris Belle, Germany

“I attended the August 2015 Visualizing Social Stories Workshop by IPA and found it most worthwhile to spend a day listening to Rob Godden and interacting with him and my course-mates. Rob’s lectures were well-prepared, rich with examples and surprisingly practical as in he drove the conceptual down to the operational. Which made it an exceptional seminar for photography practitioners as well as for interested individuals. And I particularly enjoyed the time allowed for sharing and occasionally robust discussions. It was definitely food for thought that lasted beyond the one-day seminar.” Li Li Chung, founder, Exactly Foundation

“Visualising Social Stories has on more than one occasion, brought me closer to understanding and overcoming problems faced when trying to peel away at a subject matter. Through the collective wisdom of practitioners from all walks of life, who are interested in a multitude of different topics, it’s helped both guests and participants acknowledge best practices and really delve into the complexities of modern day photojournalism as well as participatory photography and in doing so, addresses key issues with the ethics of storytelling and narrative. Both Robert and Kevin create a free flowing setting where even the most novice of storytellers feel encouraged to pose difficult questions as they progress through their own personal journeys, being both advocate and critic as to how to conceptualise and execute compelling storylines without losing the plot entirely to just mere images.” Megat Ibrahim Mahfuz, Singapore

“Robert is an engaging and interesting lecturer with first hand experience in planning and presenting social stories visually. I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and would highly recommend the course to anyone who is interested in bringing forth awareness in social issues through photography!” Joni Wong, Singapore

“As a development practitioner, I found the workshop highly relevant. Too often, little though is given to the use of images in working for social change. This can lead to problematic results. The workshop brought together photographers and film makers, development practitioners and social activists. It provided a space for discussion and for the generation of ideas and projects. Robert Godden’s practical insights in the use of images for human rights advocacy were fascinating. I left the workshop with some fresh perspectives on the deliberate use of visualisation that will surely influence my work.” Henrik Hartmann, Singapore

“I found the workshop absolutely worthwhile of my time and energy traveling to Singapore from Malaysia. It was great to have open-minded, socially-conscious course mates, and Rob Godden’s programme was a perfect platform to bring them together and see how photography can contribute to the betterment of society. I learned to take another look at images that I have taken for granted, and as a beginning photographer and a policy analyst, it boosted my interest in how to better tell stories for social empowerment.” Yina Song, South Korea

“As I pursued my photography interest, I began to take an interest in social issues. IPA’s Visualising Social Stories Workshop is not just a show and tell of Robbert’s work. It is also a platform that lets participants of different backgrounds and beliefs engage in lively and robust discussion. Through the workshop, I found answers to some of my own questions and gained some new perspectives. It was an enriching experience indeed.” Bernard Ng, Singapore

For enquiries on IPA Workshops or Events, contact us at [email protected]