Reza Visual Academy

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Formation(officially) 2014 / actions conducted since 2009
FounderPhotojournalist Reza
Legal statusNonprofit organization; Humanitarian association defined by the French association law of 1901
PurposePhotography training-programs; Exhibitions; Conferences; Photo contests; Publications
HeadquartersParis, France
Worldwide (Iraq, France, Argentina, Italy, Mali, USA…)

Reza Visual Academy (in French: Les Ateliers Reza, abrev: RVA) is a French non profit organization under regulation dated 1st of July 1901. The association is founded by Reza Deghati, a Franco-Iranian photojournalist, officially in 2014 while some projects and humanitarian activities have already been conducted since 2009.


RVA develops photography-training workshops for young living in disadvantaged conditions such as in refugee camps, shantytowns, or low-income inner cities, in different countries.[1]

Its objectives are:

  • Transmit the necessary skills to use photographic tools
  • Train youth to capture their surrounding realities and create their visual storytelling
  • Share the stories through international exhibitions

Photography Training Workshops[edit]

  • Urban Voices project (Argentina) - 2017: Photo-training workshop for 46 youths living in Buenos Aires favelas, Argentina.[2]
  • Exile Voices project (Iraqi Kurdistan) - 2013-Today: Workshops for youths located in three refugee camps in Iraqi Kurdistan.[3]
  • Bamako (Mali) - 2016-2017: Training for 19 orphans, refugees and IDP children in Bamako, Mali.[4]
  • Booster project (France) - 2013-2014: Training for 127 young people in civic service, some of whom dropped out of school, in 6 French cities.[5]
  • Toulouse (France) - 2013: Training for 38 young people in Toulouse.[6]
  • Librino (Sicily - Italy) - 2009-2012: Training for 100 youths in Librino's disadvantaged suburb of Sicily.[7]

Photo competitions[edit]

  • Barika camp 2016

RVA organizes photo competitions for students involved in its workshops. In 2016, a contest was launched for children in the Barika Camp, on the theme “Camp life”, “Family” and “Friends”. Each winner received one new laptop.

  • Children’s Eyes on Earth 2012

RVA’s founder Reza partnered with the non-governmental organization IDEA (International Dialogue for Environmental Action) to launch an international photography contest “Children’s Eyes on Earth”, on the theme “I love nature. I fear pollution.”. After the competition, an international photography festival and award ceremony took place in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Exhibitions and Conferences[edit]

Stanford University - 2018: Conference “The Power of Photography for Social Change”

Exile Voices:

  • 2018: exhibition in Kawergosk cam; in Malta International Arts Festival[8]
  • 2017: exhibition in the Training Center for Journalists (CFJ), France[9]; Conference in Brugge, in Schiltigheim
  • 2016: exhibitions in European Commission and Duhok University (partner with UNDP[10]), in Phot’Aubrac - France, and in several universities in France and USA (Syracuse University[11], Science Po, Toulouse Business)

Urban Voices - BienalSur - 2017 : exhibition in Plaza San Martin, Buenos Aires

Bamako - 2017: Exhibition and conference at the French Institute of Bamako, Mali; exhibition in Phot’Aubrac Festival, France[12]

A Dream of Humanity - 2015: Giant photographic fresco - exhibition on the banks of the Seine river, partnered with HIPA Foundation and UNHCR[13]

Ma terre, ma famille (My world, my family) - 2013: Exhibitions at the Multimedia libraries José Cabanis & Grand M, Toulouse, France[6]


  • Seul le vent

Seul le Vent is a book published in 2015, supported by Arte Reportage, UNHCR, and the French Institute in Iraqi Kurdistan. The book is composed of the photos of the students of RVA in Kawergosk camp, the poems of writer Laurent Gaudé, the cartoons of graphic artist Reinhard Kleist, and the photos taken by Reza in the refugee camps.

  • Réfugiés: 5 Pays / 5 Camps

Réfugiés: 5 Pays / 5 Camps is a book made in collaboration with filmmakers, writers, photographers and artists covering 5 refugee camps across the globe for the “Refugee project” of Arte Reportage. The book was published in 2016 by Invenit Edition.

In 2015, Arte Reportage performed a web-documentary on the workshop of RVA within the Kawergosk camp. Since 2013, the children have benefitted from the art of photography and continue to engage with their artistic talents by showcasing their work.

The Partners[edit]

  • Webistan photo agency: Provide resources, office space, and personnel who work pro-bono for certain RVA projects.
  • National Geographic and Ashoka Foundation: Provide support, networking, and opportunities for RVA projects.[14]. In 2018, National Geographic co-funded the ongoing training of teenage refugees in the Iraqi Kurdistan refugee camps.
  • UNHCR, UNDP and other United Nations Funds, Programmes, and Specialized Agencies: Help to co-organize exhibitions and conferences around the world.[12][10]
  • Varenne Foundation: Support in terms of materials for workshops and organizing exhibitions to showcase the work of the children.[15]
  • Sakura Fund: Support in terms of finance for the workshops (Refugee camps in Iraqi Kurdistan and Mali) and for the exhibition of the students in Argentina[16]

External links[edit]


  1. Wolfe, Lee. "Reza Visual Academy | Voices for Biodiversity". Voices for Biodiversity. Retrieved 2018-07-10.
  2. "L'art sud-américain en effervescence". Le Monde (in français).
  3. "Life in a Refugee Camp, As Seen By Children". National Geographic. 2015-12-10. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
  4. "Equations nomades bamako 2017" (in français).
  5. "Les jeunes des quartiers s'expriment par la photo". La Nouvelle République (in français).
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Ateliers Reza au Mirail : voici les photos des jeunes Toulousains". Franceinfo (in français).
  7. "Museo dell'Immagine a Librino: intervista ad Antonio Presti". Catania Today (in italian).CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link)
  8. "A voice to the exiled". Times of Malta: 8, 9. 2 July 2018.
  9. "MasterClass : Reza, 40 ans de photoreportage". Official Website of Centre de Formation des Journalistes (in français).
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Photo exhibition raises awareness about the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria, showcases EU-UNDP partnership". UNDP Iraq official website.
  11. "Photojournalist Reza will discuss his humanitarian work, present images from "Exile Voices," Oct. 5". Website of New House School - Syracuse University.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Équations nomades : Un projet culturel et humanitaire". (in français).
  13. "Reza's "A Dream of humanity" opens on the banks of the Seine in Paris". UNHCR official website.
  14. "Brochure Ashoka 2017-2018". Ashoka | Everyone a Changemaker. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
  15. "La Fondation Varenne avec Reza et Exile Voices au Kurdistan Irakien !". Varenne Foundation official website (in français).
  16. "Ateliers Reza - Visual Academy". Sakura Fund's official website (in français).

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