Want to join a community of like-minded peers and passionate mentors to produce an outstanding portfolio?

ONWARD Global Mentorship Program — a brand new approach to photography education

Global Mentorship Program 2016 will start accepting applications in spring

Program Overview

The ONWARD Global Mentorship Program is a ten month comprehensive online photography course that aims to provide students from all over the world with a new approach to the existing education options. Combining the flexibility and convenience of learning on your own, with the integrity and cohesion offered from traditional institutional education, we have created an all-encompassing photography education program.

Students accepted into the ONWARD Global Mentorship Program will work closely with mentors, reviewers, and peers to produce a long-term personal project. Over the course of the ten months, they will develop the skills to shoot, edit, and present work, and also refine their abilities to give and accept constructive criticism. It is a unique learning experience that is designed by photographers for photographers.

Classes will begin in June 2016 and conclude March 2017. We will be opening up one section limited to 24 students. Each student will have one mentor and two reviewers who will oversee the progress throughout the year.

The Current Educational Climate

While there are a number of options for photographers to enhance their craft, we found that something wasn’t quite adding up. Each individual option had plenty of advantages on its own, but when looking at the larger scope, they just weren’t able to offer the “full package”:

  • Workshops can stimulate the void of creativity and motivate momentum, but they don’t last long. The flow of creative energy often subsides soon after the workshop ends leaving you back where you started.
  • Portfolio reviews offer feedback from well-connected industry professionals, but meaningful personal contact is limited. With so little time to understand your work, various reviewers are likely to offer contradictory advice which may actually hinder your progress.
  • One-on-one mentorships provide personalized feedback and support crucial to development, but can also be detrimental to only have one opinion guiding your progress.
  • Certificate programs can fall into two categories. While they all offer accredited classes and professors, sometimes students complete various class requirements without an overarching, cohesive structure. Other certificate programs are very similar to BFA/MFA programs with a comprehensive curriculum and steep tuition fees.
  • MFA programs connect students with a wide network of peers and mentors and the structure necessary to develop long-term projects. But attending a full-time program for two years is an unfeasible life disruption for many of us, and tuition is often prohibitively expensive.

Core Principles

We’ve found that there is clearly something missing in photo education today to provide photographers with training conducive to creating a meaningful body of work. We built the ONWARD Global Mentorship Program around four main principles:

  • Guidance: personalized progress updates and one-on-one meetings with mentors plus feedback from reviewers regarding your long-term project
  • Accountability: weekly assignments to keep you active and engaged, online discussions and critiques with fellow students
  • Flexibility: online distance-learning convenient from any location with recorded lessons to watch at your convenience
  • Affordability: fraction of the cost of traditional tuitions

Program Components

The format of the course is comprised of six components. While each individually integral to the development and progression of the student’s long-term personal project, we believe when fused together, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

One-on-One Mentor Meetings:
[One hour, every 3-4 weeks] These meetings are intended to help students develop a strong portfolio and unique artistic voice. Mentors will provide insightful, personalized feedback on ongoing work, discuss new ideas, offer suggestions for creative strategies, and advice on overcoming hesitations.
Group Critiques:
[2 hours every other month] Group critiques are a perfect opportunity to provide feedback on experimental and ongoing work. Through questions, discussions, and constructive criticism, students will gain insight into various ways their work is viewed by an audience, and become more confident discussing and interpreting work of their peers.
Online Platform:
[Ongoing] Students are responsible for weekly low-stress photo assignments to keep them engaged and practicing, improve shooting skills, make new discoveries, and experiment on various conceptual, aesthetic, or technical approaches to their work. Students can utilize this platform to share ideas and research, and participate in an on-going discussion.
Portfolio Reviews:
[3 times during course] With the aid of your mentor meetings and group critiques, you will present a cohesive portfolio for a formal review. You will get advice on the direction of your shooting, the selection process, and how to present a finished body of work. The reviews are recorded and available for all students to access.
[2 hours every month] These webinar sessions will introduce important concepts and practices toward the development of your portfolio. You will watch established photographers discuss their work and creative process. Each session is live with the opportunity to ask questions, but also are recorded so that you can refer back during the course.
On-site Workshop:
[One week] Students have the option to participate in a one week long on-site workshop at Cow House Studios, an artist-run studio in Ireland. While abroad, students will have the opportunity for in-person interaction and discussion with peers and instructors as well as to gain exposure to regional emerging artists.

The Process

Critique is the fundamental process of learning and advancing your photography in this program. These sessions provide opportunities to nurture a critical eye for viewing photographs helping students to objectively see and talk about the nuances that define their work as well as time to self reflect and engage in inspiring discussions.

Various formats of critiques

Various critique formats in ONWARD Global Mentorship Program

By varying the format and the different perspectives involved in the critique process, we will be able to shift the balance between subjectivity and objectivity. This ensures that various opinions and perspectives are understood within a larger context.

Mentor & Reviewers

Mentors and reviewers are the keystones of this program. We purposefully select photographers who are passionate about the medium and actively practicing their craft, as well as educating the new generation of photographers.


Mentors will act as the main instructors and a liaison between students and reviewers. They will be responsible for interacting with students on a monthly basis to touch base and provide guidance and feedback on on-going assignments.

Dimitra Ermeidou is a fine-art photographer living and working in Philadelphia, PA, where she earned her MFA in Photography from Temple University. Her work has been presented in numerous exhibitions and international photography festivals in the US and abroad. Dimitra has worked as an arts educator for over seven years, teaching the next generation and adults of various ages backgrounds. While still actively practicing, she is now an assistant professor of photography at Temple University.


Reviewers are responsible for providing constructive feedback three times throughout the course and will focus on the progress of long-term personal projects. They will review the ideas, execution, and clarity of portfolios with their discerning eyes.

greg-miller-2-400Greg Miller, originally from Nashville, moved to New York to earn his BFA from the School of Visual Arts. His focus on street style photography, portraiture, and found moments has earned him recognition from the country’s top publications such as The New York Times, TIME, and LIFE. In 2008, he was awarded a photography fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. While still actively shooting, Greg is also a regular at the International Center of Photography in New York.
karen-marshallKaren Marshall, a New York based photographer and educator earned her MFA in New Media at the Transart Institute. Karen is a seminar leader in the Documentary and Photojournalism program at ICP, an adjunct professor at NYU, and mentors pre-MFA candidates at the Maine Media Workshops. Aside from her extensive teaching career, Karen has photographed for editorial, advertising, and non-profit clients across the world. Her work has been exhibited and part of collections in museums in the United States and abroad.

On-site Workshop

To complement the online component of the course, students will have the option to travel and participate in a one-week on-site artist retreat. This Ireland workshop promotes in-person interaction between peers and instructors, and also exposes students to the work of regional emerging artists.

Cow House Studios, the host of the workshop, is a progressive artist-run studio that provides a supportive community for emerging artists. Located in the County Wexford in the picturesque Irish countryside, Cow House is the perfect setting to cut out the distractions of daily life and focus on your work and creative process.

Students will leave Ireland with a renewed set of questions, avenues for exploration and materials to research, and closer ties to their peers with whom bonds will develop as they progress in their careers.

The view of Wexfod, Ireland and Cow House Studios

The view of Wexford, Ireland and Cow House Studios

Workshop Description

This program aims to provide an intensive week of daily group critiques, studio visits, and presentations by established photographers, forwarding the progress of students’ long-term personal projects. Students will be invited to receive valuable feedback from a variety of practitioners in the fields of fine art, commercial, and studio photography.

Instructors in Ireland

While in Ireland, students will engage in discussions and presentations led by the founders of Cow House Studios, Frank Abruzzese and Rosie O’Gorman.

FrankFrank Abruzzese, a Philadelphia native, is the photography instructor at Cow House. With an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, he has exhibited internationally as well as been the recipient of various awards. He loves teaching and has an ideas-based approach to working with students.
RosieRosie O’Gorman, born and raised on the land where Cow House Studios resides, is a contemporary artist with an extensive background in teaching, painting, drawing, sculpture and installation. She also earned her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute.

Details of Ireland Workshop

The trip will take place in fall 2016. Additional fees will be required, which cover workshop, food & accommodation, and local transportation (airfare is not included). While the trip is optional, the program can accommodate up to 16 students (minimum of 8). Upon acceptance into the course, additional information about the Ireland workshop and registration will be provided. Please note that seats for this trip are limited and will be accommodated on a first come, first served basis.

So, Who’s This Program For?

The ONWARD Global Mentorship Program is not for everyone. It is designed for students with technical proficiency, an understanding of the photographic medium, and the strong desire to develop their portfolio and strengthen their artistic vision:

  • Self-Taught: you’ve learned the basics but now want a personalized and in-depth education; you want to learn how to put together a cohesive portfolio and develop an artistic voice; you need mentorship and community while you learn and practice.
  • Post Undergrad: you miss the structure and motivation you had from a classroom environment; you need help focusing on a long-term project and portfolio development; you would like to continue your education but are concerned about the cost of tuition; you have a degree in a different field but photography has always been an interest.
  • Pre-MFA: you’re considering a Master’s degree but need to fine tune and edit your work beforehand; you are interested in developing a stronger portfolio and exploring options beyond another degree.
  • The 9 to 5’ers: you have the photography background but pursued a career elsewhere and want to begin shooting again for practice and creative outlet; you work full-time so a flexible schedule is important to you.


So, what makes our program great? The ONWARD Global Mentorship Program is an alternative approach designed to fill the void in the current climate and provide an all-encompassing educational experience. With this new approach comes new benefits:

  • A structured, cohesive curriculum that instills focus and motivation to complete a long-term project
  • Consistent feedback and individualized attention from established photographers
  • Online distance learning allowing flexibility and convenience
  • Supportive community that encourages creative risk-taking
  • A program that is a fraction of the cost of traditional institutional education

Tuition / Payment Options

Program Options & Add-on:

  • Option A Mentorship Program: $4,750
  • Option B Mentorship Program + 8 additional one-on-one: $5,750
  • Add-on On-site Workshop in Wexford, Ireland: $2,750

Payment Options:

Various payment options are available. Information and instructions will be given upon acceptance to the course.

How to Apply

  1. Please fill out the preliminary application form. A $35 application is necessary in order for the selection committee to carefully review all materials.
  2. After filling out this form, you will be asked to submit the following materials by application deadline in spring of 2016 (date will be announced)
  • Bio/Resume including previous experience and education
  • Personal Statement
  • Portfolio of 15-20 images

Ready to take your project to the next step?Application window will open in spring 2016


Will I receive any kind of certification from this program?
No. The program is designed as an alternative to a more rigid institutional education.
Why is there an application fee and how will it be used?
The application fee is necessary to allow us to bring in top-notch professionals to be a part of the program. Every application will be reviewed in person by our panel–none of this would be possible without asking for a little bit from you.
Is a degree in Photography required to apply?
No, we will be accepting students with a variety of educational backgrounds, however, students should be comfortable with a camera, and ready to start a project.
What is the application selection process?
A selection committee comprised of reviewers and mentors will carefully examine all applications. The committee will be responsible for selecting applicants who posses a strong foundation and would benefit most from the course.
Is the trip to Ireland included in the cost of the program? Is it required to attend?
The trip is completely optional. The cost of this trip is not included in the course fee, it is an additional $2,750 to attend.
Is there a technical requirement to participate in the program?
Yes, you should have access to the internet, and the application “Skype” with video capabilities as the course will be online with audio and video components (students may have to acquire a web cam if their computer does not have one).
Do I have to pay the full tuition up front?
We are willing to work with students with specific financial circumstances. After the initial deposit is paid, we offer a variety of flexible payment options, including a monthly plan, to make it more accessible for participants. Please feel free to reach out to us to find out more.

Curious, But Not Ready?

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If you’re still a little unsure about your project, why not read some great project advice from the 2015 Guggenheim photographers?
See their words of wisdom »



Based in Philadelphia, PA, ONWARD started in 2008 as a regional competition for emerging photographers culminating in an annual photography festival called ONWARD Summit. Now in its eighth year, ONWARD is a multi-faceted photography happening which encompasses the Summit photo festival in Philadelphia, an international competition featuring envelope-pushing work called Compé, and Galerie, an online display featuring select photographers. ONWARD also offers educational workshops for discerning photographers.

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