Category Archive: From the mailbag

Alexia Foundation’s Women’s Initiative Grant and New Website

In recent months the Alexia Foundation has been very busy with new social media presence and a gorgeous new website that shows off all of the terrific projects and photographers they have supported over the last 21 years. The Foundation was founded in 1991 and has awarded $700,000 in grants to fund over 128 projects by both professionals and students.

This year’s winners include Justin Maxon’s When the Spirit Moves, Kathryn Cook’s Memory of Trees and Katie Orlinsky’s Innocence Assassinated: Living in Mexico’s Drug War. Past winners include Matt Eich (2008), Balazs Gardi (2006), Marcus Bleasdale (2005), Francesco Zizola (2004), Ami Vitale (2000) and Melissa Lyttle (1999).

The Foundation has also just announced a new $25,000 grant called the Women’s Initiative “to provide resources for a photojournalist to produce a project that illuminates any form of abuse of women in the United States but with global significance.” The deadline is August 15, 2012.

“The Alexia Foundation’s main purpose is to encourage and help photojournalists create stories that drive change. While our traditional grant guidelines put no limits on the subject matter for grant proposals, a few proposals about women’s rights in the last few years have been so powerful that they have compelled the Foundation to create a grant specifically on the issue of women’s abuse. Because this issue is so shocking and deplorable – but continues partly because it is so often unseen or ignored – the Foundation will provide a $25,000 grant so a project can be produced that will illuminate the horrors of what is happening, often invisibly in our own communities.”

And the Winner of the Think Tank Photo bag is.. Tamara Zidar

And the winner is...

And the winner is...

Despite a couple of weeks of delays beyond the control of Matt and Scott, we are pleased to announce the winner of the dvafoto / Think Tank Photo contest. There were 52 entries on Twitter and on Facebook from supporters of dvafoto who suggested “The Most Powerful Image” they knew. Scott Brauer held the drawing from his very own hat (msb: Well, a vase actually…) and the randomly selected winner is Tamara Zidar, from Belgrade, Serbia. The image she chose for the contest is by Argentinian photographer Alejandro Kirchuk. When asked about why she chose this picture Zidar wrote,

“When I look at this photo, every time I feel slight pain in my stomach. I think about love, commitment, sacrifice and strange stories of our lives.
It hurts to see her watching through him and don’t recognising her friend, her love, partner. But yet his look says “Eat now, my love, you will be just fine.” as if he doesn’t know she is not coming back.”

Scott and Matt are currently editing the rest of the submissions in to a blog post that will compare what our audience considered “the most powerful” pictures they have seen to an earlier article Scott wrote about Reddit users’ choices.

Think Tank Photo - Retrospective 5

Think Tank Photo - Retrospective 5

If you haven’t won but still are interested in Think Tank Photo equipment, remember you can order online at this link or through the advertisement on the right-side of the site. With this code, you will get a special gift with your purchase. If you order through our site part of your purchase will also go to support the costs of maintaining dvafoto. Thanks again for your support, and congratulations to Tamara!

Updates from Matt and Scott: Sign Up for our Quarterly Newsletters

Matt and Scott are about to send out their quarterly newsletters updating clients and friends about the work we have been up to and the plans for the near future. It is the best way to keep up with what we are working on and where our pictures are being published. You can sign up for Scott’s newsletter here, and sign up for Matt’s here, or click on their respective photos below. We both use MailChimp to manage our newsletters and you can unsubscribe at any time, and we promise not to bombard you more than a handful of times per year.

Renowned MIT chemical and engineering Professor Donald Sadoway, developer of the liquid metal battery, was recently named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. © M Scott Brauer

While most of Scott’s recent work is still under embargo or not quite published, here are few highlights from him, based in Boston, Massachusetts:

  • Updates on new work, including recent portraiture and political coverage
  • Tearsheets from Education Week, MIT News, Montana’s Office of Tourism, and others
  • New-to-you images from Tibetan areas of China in my archive
  • Travel images from flyover states
  • Information about upcoming travel this summer

A woman in tears as her family and city workers rush to pack their belongings in to city trucks during the razing of the Belville camp in New Belgrade, in an area underneath the New Belgrade train station. The residents of the community had been relocated earlier in the day. (c) Matt Lutton

Some highlights from Matt, who is based in Belgrade, Serbia:

  • Lutton will be traveling in the United States from mid-June until the end of August, and tentatively in Africa in September.
  • Tearsheets and archive features from recent assignments for The Wall Street Journal, 2012 Magazine and M Le Magazine du Monde.
  • Coverage from the Serbian Presidential and Parliamentary elections which took place on May 6, and previewing the second round of Presidential voting on May 20.
  • Preview of his new story “The Destruction of Belville” which follows another mass Roma eviction in Belgrade similar to his project Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere from 2009.

Sign up and see the full updates from Matt and Scott when they send their newsletters next week. Thanks again for supporting us and our work, we look forward to sharing more of our pictures and a lot more on dvafoto soon.

Win a Think Tank Photo bag from dvafoto

We’re proud to announce a dvafoto contest in partnership with Think Tank Photo. They’ve donated a Retrospective 5 bag for us to give away to friends and fans of dvafoto. We’ve got the bag in hand, and if we weren’t giving it away, it would be going out on assignment with one of us. It’s small, doesn’t look like a camera bag, and has a ton of neat features (extra pockets, customizable dividers, great strap, a special velcro-less silent mode, and on and on). It’s a great bag, and now there’s a chance for you to get one free.

Think Tank Photo - Retrospective 5

Think Tank Photo - Retrospective 5

We thought this presented a great opportunity to start a discussion about powerful imagery, similar to our recent post about the most powerful photography as chosen by Reddit users. We want to hear about which photograph you would nominate the most powerful picture you know and to give away a great camera bag to one lucky person who has answered our question. We will randomly draw a name from all the entries and discuss submissions in a future post on dvafoto.

For all the information you need about entering this contest and to see which images both Matt and Scott chose to nominate themselves, visit the contest page at

The deadline is March 30, 2012 DEADLINE EXTENDED to April 6, 2012.

We’re looking forward to seeing your entries!

Receive a FREE CAMERA BAG from Think Tank Photo

Worth a look: War Torn – An Iraq Veteran’s Story

Wall Street Journal photo editor Matthew Craig and photographer Brandon Thibodeaux recently produced a powerful multimedia piece focusing on Iraq veteran Ian Welch’s life in the US after an artillery round exploded near him during the 2003 fight for Baghdad. The piece was produced over the last year and combines still photography, video, and audio interviews, offering an intimate look at the way Welch and those who surround him cope with life after his traumatic time in Iraq. Be sure to watch the editing and sound design around the 6 minute mark when Welch’s girlfriend discusses the difficulties of dealing with his PTSD. The piece, especially the final minute as Welch describes his fears for the future, is a strong reminder of the long-lasting toll of the past decade of war. You can read the accompanying article here: For Wounded Vet, Love Pierces the Fog of War

Edoardo Pasero’s Doll Flesh

Edoardo Pasero wrote to us recently and shared his new project Doll Flesh. I was immediately taken by the depth and sincerity of the reportage, and the unique woman at the heart of the story. We’re excited to share this work with you alongside a few questions we had for Pasero.

Vittoria is a transsexual of German origins born forty-eight years ago in Brazil and now living in Milan, Italy. More than 20 years ago she went through about 300 injections of liquid silicone to shape her body into that of a woman; tragically, she suddenly discovered she was intolerant.

After so many years now of intoxication and cortisone treatments her body is consumed. She still works as a prostitute along a highway near Milan, but she never gets undressed with her clients because she doesn’t want them to be aware of her condition.
In her spare time she custom builds Barbie dolls. Her talent is really appreciated in the world of the “custom Barbie making”.

    Note: there are no captions except for the last image, which is a translation of this page of Vittoria’s diary.

How did you meet Vittoria? What inspired you to photograph her story?

Pasero: I knew her thanks to ALA, a nonprofit organization based in Milan. They work on subjects like drugs, prostitution, transsexualism and so on. I have a personal obsession with everything concerned with the body and it was immediately clear to me that I had to work with her. She has a really extreme case of silicone intoxication and when I heard her story I was astonished. I was completely fascinated by her hobby working with dolls; to me it is like she did the first, primal doll experiment on herself, and now she is replicating it doing new dolls. Once, she told me she wanted to be like the unicorn she tattooed on her back.

What, if anything, was she interested in communicating when she agreed to be part of your story?

Vittoria was in denial about her condition for a long time and just lately she reconciled with it. Just think to the fact that she works with the clothes on and that, according to her words, I’m the first man seeing her naked in ten years. So, to work with me was her way to say: “pay attention to what you do, silicone can be dangerous”. She never wanted to see the pictures, she’s ok with the project but it’s still too much for her to see her naked body in a picture.

Would you consider this project a collaboration with Vittoria? Does she help select the drawings or dolls you’ve included in this series? What is her reaction to these photographs and the way you’ve edited them together?

It was a collaboration in the sense that she let me to do what I wanted, everything except for the moments when she is with her clients. To let a photographer with his camera in to your life and in the place you live is the most collaborative act of all. I simply took pictures of her and her environment. Clearly I spent a lot of time with her, that’s for sure. I spent time with her without a camera too, doing things like going to the hospital, shopping, dinners etc. There is one picture in the sequence, a blurry one, where you can see two arms taking away old band-aids from her bottom, to put on the new ones. One arm is clearly Vittoria, the other one is my girlfriend, during that period they became friends, and we still are.

The selection was a pain, it took months. I love to edit and I think it is half of the work. Additionally I live in the same city where I have my agency (Prospekt) and I really live in the office. So it was a collaborative effort to make this edit, and I have to thank a lot all of the people there at Prospekt. But, by the other side, it was a sort of “controversial” process; it was like every person looking at it for the first time had a different idea than the one before and so on, much more than the other works I edited before. So I had to put a stop at one point.

Does this story fit in to any larger body of work you are working on?

It was originally intended as part of a bigger project to be done with the ALA organization about transgendered people in the city of Milan, but at the moment nothing is going on so I think it will stay as a work on it’s own. I’ve got no plans. I’d like to see it published somewhere as I’d like to expose this subject, but I understand it’s not simple.

Where do you come from? What is your background as a photographer?

I’ve done workshops with Lorenzo Castore, Antoine D’Agata and Anders Petersen, and except for that I’m self-taught. My father was a really good photographer in his youth and taught me how to use a camera and some darkroom techniques but I learned looking at books of photographers I liked. My parents have both a degree in philosophy and I studied philosophy too; photography became a practical way to apply it in life.

When I was going back through your project I saw one particular image – the picture of Vittoria with an umbrella by the side of the road – which immediately reminded me of Mishka Henner’s project No Man’s Land.

It caused a stir amongst photographers and critics I know, about evenly split on positive or negative, with some of the debate focused on the use of Street View and others on his treatment of the subject itself. I think your project could be considered a much more personal and journalistic response to the scenes and individuals involved in Henner’s distant photographs. Do you have any thoughts about that project or how your work relates?

About “No Man’s Land”, it is interesting how the 70% of the work is done with images “taken” in Italy, hah. Anyway, I have nothing against this kind of work, but I think it would be correct to present it as a research work based on archive material. It’s a conceptual work. This kind of approach is really used in contemporary art. For example, my friend Diego Marcon works mainly in this way. He takes family tape archives and he re-organizes it in to something new: Marcon’s SPOOL project.

So, to be clear, I don’t think Mishka Henner’s work is photography, it is something else, really interesting and worth a look but not photography, it’s 90% project idea and 10% framing on a computer screen using someone else pictures.

To me photography still requires just one simple condition, to be present at the moment of the click.

What has the response been to Doll Flesh, have you been able to publish this project?

Heh, I started to share it in October 2011 and here on dvafoto is the first publication. I think it’s a difficult project to place, reactions vary a lot from one person to another and I understand perfectly that some pictures are a bit harsh. Anyway, it was a great experience for me and that’s what matters.

New Projects Worth Supporting

In recent weeks a few interesting and worthy fundraising campaigns have come across our radar that I wanted to share.

Grozny – Nine Cities is an ongoing project by Russian photographers Olga Kravets, Maria Morina and Oksana Yushko.

Grozny, the capital of war-torn Chechnya, is a melting pot for changing Caucasus society that is trying to overcome a trauma of two recent wars and find its own way of life in between traditional Chechen values, Muslim traditions, and globalization. Our project is inspired by Thornton Wilder’s book Theophilus North. It centers on the idea of nine cities being hidden in one. We applied this concept to Grozny as nine “levels of existence” hidden within the city.

More information can be found on their website, Grozny: Nine Cities.
Notable rewards for help in supporting the project: Postcards and signed prints. As of publishing there are 39 days left to sponsor the project via

Newsmotion is a new concept of journalistic website put together by a very talented team of independent writers, journalists and producers, including Julian Rubinstein, Todd Gitlin and their photo editor Alan Chin, in partnership with the People’s Production House. A pre-launch of the site is now online at and includes a preview of a story I worked on with Gitlin and Serbian activist Srdja Popovic about Non-Violent Resistance while both were in Belgrade last May. Visit the Kickstarter campaign.

Newsmotion is an innovative platform for civic media, public art, and original documentary reportage. We are harnessing the power of independent voices, technology, and collaborative storytelling to help the critical issues of our time engage new audiences and find new solutions

Recent events—including the uprisings in the Middle East and the Occupy movement—have shown that individuals and communities with access to technology are able to get their voices heard. A collective vision for the future of civic media is already being realized in revolutionary ways—Newsmotion is our contribution to this movement.

Notable rewards: Books written by contributors, limited editions of “The Occupied Wall Street Journal” and the Yes Men’s special edition of The New York Times, an invitation to the famous Winter Gumbo party on December 27 in New York City (be sure to check the details and offers on this, it has been a hit in the past). Deadline: there are only 10 days to go, finishing on December 29, 2011.

FOLK is a new documentary film by Sara Terry about “singer-songwriters who are working just under the radar of mainstream American music, their lives playing out in a vibrant sub-culture that few people know about.” Visit the Kickstarter campaign.

Part music documentary and part road trip movie, FOLK lets our characters’ lives and their songs do what singer-songwriters have always done: amplify the themes that resonate across our cultural landscape – whether it’s re-defining success in the face of failure, trying to find wholeness in an increasingly fragmented world, or struggling to make sense of the trials and triumphs that make us all so human.

Notable rewards: Special edition DVDs, downloads and CDs from the project, limited edition prints and posters or even songs written about or for you by the musicians in the documentary. There are 15 days left, ending on January 3, 2012.

UPDATE (1/2/12): We’ve very happy to be able to say congratulations to the team behind Newsmotion for reaching and exceeding their Kickstarter goal and funding the next stage of the project. As well, Sara Terry reached beyond her fundraising goal for the documentary FOLK. There is still about a day to contribute if you want to be part of the founder’s community. The Grozny: Nine Cities campaign has 25 days left and could still use your support.

dvafoto’s Deadline Calendar and Upcoming Deadlines

If you aren’t familiar, let me introduce you to our dvafoto calendar which lists upcoming deadlines for photography contests, grants and events. We rely on submissions for most of the upcoming deadlines, so if you come across something that you think should be added to our calendar, please send us a tip at

It is an interesting time of the year for grants and contests, and I wanted to point out a couple of deadlines that are soon approaching that I’m personally keeping an eye on:

Saturday October 22: The Terry O’Neill Tag Award is due, with categories focused on Fine Art/ Reportage / Fashion / Documentary / Landscape / Wildlife / Portraiture.

Tuesday November 1: the important Aftermath Project Grant is due on Nov 1 and Shots Magazine is interested in submissions for their Portfolio Issue on the same day.

Friday November 4: 2012 Call for Fellowships from Houston Center of Photography which offers to the chosen fellows a proper show and some financing to produce your exhibition. We have friends who have won this accolade and have made wonderful use of the resources at HCP.

For more recommendations about upcoming contests stay in touch over this busy fall.

Our monthly posting of dvafoto’s deadline calendar. The calendar can be accessed in a web browser, or with ical or xml applications. If you know of any upcoming deadlines not on the list, please send them to or use the submissions page.

This resource is especially useful this time of year, when there are a lot of new grants with new procedures and deadlines emerging every day. and please do pass on the news if you hear about contests or organizations with upcoming deadlines that we should add to the dvafoto calendar.
Submissions and reminders are always welcome.

Worth a look (and a few bucks!): Support the Focused Project

Focused Project - camera kit to be sent to photojournalists worldwide

Focused Project - camera kit to be sent to photojournalists worldwide

Chip Litherland wrote recently to let us know about the Focused Project, a collaborative effort involving some 200 photojournalists worldwide (including me!). The project needs your help to get off the ground. It’s a fascinating idea…the end result will be a huge collection of decisive moments from all over the world. Here’s how Litherland describes the project:

“Five fully manual 35mm cameras will be pre-loaded with a single roll of film and packed into five separate camera bags. The bags will be shipped across the world from one photojournalist to the next – one in a small town in the middle of the U.S., another among relief efforts in a natural disaster zone, or working the White House press pool. Each photojournalist will get only one click of the shutter. Just one click….After 36 exposures, one roll of film will hold thousands of miles of travel with photo subjects as diverse as the areas they are sent. Frame by frame, the viewer will get a glimpse of the thought process behind making one singular, thoughtful image – all on one single roll of film.”

The project is still in need of funds, and with only a day left for donations, the time to contribute is now. Head over to IndieGoGo to help Focused become a reality.

Read more about the project at the New Yorker Photo Booth blog and at Wired’s Raw File or Focused’s own site.

David Kasnic’s “Give Me Time”

David Kasnic shared his work with me a few months ago, and we had a beer at a nice seedy Ukrainian bar in New York when I was last in town. He’s from the Pacific Northwest originally, like myself, and he is finishing a degree in photojournalism at Western Kentucky University. I wanted to ask him a few questions about this moment in his career and the pictures he has made lately.

Where did you come from, where did you grow up, how did you end up studying photojournalism?
I grew up in Washington State in a small town called Wenatchee, which is located in the middle of the state and is about two hours away from Seattle. I think it was probably sophomore year of high school when my best friend Evan got a point and shoot camera for Christmas and I fell in love with it more than he did. I mean, I think he liked it, but I was really into it. I don’t think we were really into taking serious pictures, just funny stuff. Pictures of friends mooning the camera, raising hell in grocery stores, mostly throwing things out of cars. Both of us were in this photography class in high school where we got to use both film and digital and I think that’s where I really fell in love with photography was in that class. I think the only things I took pictures of were concerts, skateboarding and gross shit my friends did, but I had a good time. I knew by the time high school ended that I wanted to start taking photography seriously, whether that meant studying it in college or not. I wasn’t able to go to college right off the bat because I kind of dicked around in school and never really took the right classes, the right tests, etc. After a year of hustling pretty hard at a community college in Seattle and working part time washing cars at Toyota of Bellevue, I was able to start applying to four-year schools. I applied to Western Kentucky University one day, thinking I wouldn’t get in, and a week later, my parents got a letter in the mail saying I was accepted. I’ve been at WKU since 2008.

Can you give some introduction to the pictures you have on your website?
Basically, I’ve been photographing my life for two or three years. At times I was focused. It wasn’t so scatter brained. I had a purpose of what I was trying to do. Mind you it was things like sex, drugs and rock n’ roll because that’s what I was influenced by. I grew up loving skate and punk rock culture, and I guess I knew even when I first starting to take pictures in high school that I wanted my first thing, project, body of pictures, whatever, to be raw, in your face, a depiction of sensational partying and a carefree lifestyle.

Are you going to be a photographer when you graduate?
I’m trying to figure out where photography and making a living will meet for me or if that will ever be the case. Am I going to photograph, work on projects and strive to keep making better photographs? Yes.

You said to me that you’re interested in moving beyond photographing yourself and friends, “personal projects”. Do you think this reflects anything larger about your interest in photography? There seems to have been lately an increased respect for ‘me’ photographs as an alternative to ‘traditional’ photojournalism of flying overseas to cover pressing international issues. Do you see any changes happening in the industry or the work of other photographers that you find interesting?
I’ve been influenced by so many different things but when I first started to really dive into photography, the photographers that interested me the most took me on a journey through their own life or of someone or the someone’s close to them. I think that was because of a lot of things, but mostly my age. When I had talked to you about this before I think I should have said I’m interested in doing something different just to change things up. I don’t really know if moving beyond photographing myself and the people in my life will ever happen or if it should for that matter, but I’m going to do other things as well to grow as a person.

I don’t really know about an increased respect for ‘me’ photographs. People have been doing that shit for years. To me, and most of the people I have great respect for, who are involved in photography in some way, shape or form, all photographs are equal, whether they are from home, a sporting event or world conflicts.

You mentioned something to me once about being able to ‘morph’ and fit in wherever you are photographing .. skate people, drugs, music. Maybe these mirror ‘phases’ in your own life. Tell me something about this idea, of how you personally work well with your subjects, how close you become to them.
I think my relationships with the people inside my photographs add something for sure, I think but I’m not sure if the work I’ve done so far tells a “story”. I think I’ve been fortunate to get help from other photographers and editors to get my collection of photographs on one topic from the past three years edited into different narratives but I’m not sure if they’re stories per say.

Who is doing work that are you excited about these days?
Sophie Borazanian’s work, Mustafah Abdulaziz’s Memory Loss, Alex Welsh.

What do you take from multidisciplinary approaches to inspiration? What are you listening to or looking at that we should know about but probably don’t?
I think people should know about Austin Koester. He goes to school with me but this isn’t a friend plug. His work is great.

So is there a title that fits for these portfolios?
I think “Give Me Time” suits it best. Being that I’m still really trying to find myself behind the camera, and I think that comes across in my pictures, that I’m really still trying to figure what I’m trying to say.