Category Archive: grants

Lots of deadlines this weekend on the #photocalendar

There are quite a few big deadlines this weekend on our photocalendar. Some are free, others have entry fees…

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.

Readings: recent articles on business and photography and journalism

  • Banjo extraordinaire Danny Barnes (I don’t know his music) has a great essay on “How to Make a Living Playing Music,” and he might as well be writing about making a living taking pictures. He starts “if you are a very materialistic person, skip this article, i don’t think you are going to like what it says.” The article is partly philosophical–don’t gossip, avoid people who talk about gear, “all the trouble in the world is going to come for you in two ways. the things you say, and the things you agree to do. be very careful about these items.”–but mostly practical–”the main business strategy is to build your own audience,” “don’t be afraid to do other things to make money in the short term,” and

    “be totally square on your taxes. render unto caesar that which is caesar’s. if you try to fudge on this, it will come back to bite you every time. get receipts for everything, 1099 everyone no matter what, unless they are a corporation.”

    The whole thing’s a fascinating insight into what allows a successful musician to keep doing what he loves, and has many parallels to photographers working on a career.

  • Kenneth Jarecke’s “2009 – Year of Transition” has a great analysis of what 2009 meant to many freelancers. He explains why he turned down editorial work (a first for Jarecke), talks about new strategies for distribution, cogently analyzes the havoc caused by editorial layoffs and how it will affect the future, and the stupidity of photographers signing “work for hire” contracts for $1200 a day with big clients.
  • PDN talks with the Aftermath Project jurors to find out “What It Takes To Win An Aftermath Project Grant
  • Joerg Colberg’s excellent “We’re all Zapruders now (but that doesn’t make us journalists)” examines what it means when everyone has a camera and how that’s different from journalism.

    “I don’t ever recall hearing or seeing anyone describe Abraham Zapruder as a “citizen journalist”. He was seen as what we was: A chance bystander who happened to have a camera (and use it) the moment the American president was shot and killed.”

    The piece ends with strong argument for what society stands to lose by getting rid of professional journalists.

  • Magtastic Blogsplosion surveys many perspectives on upcoming tablet devices and what they may mean for magazines in “The revolution to come.”

    “The industry also wants to avoid the newspaper dilemma – publishers were so excited to give away their content for free in the early days of the web, that there was no thought to an industry business model – and the toothpaste is proving difficult to push back into the tube.”

    And check out Magtastic’s collection of groups using the newspaper format in innovative ways in “What Newspapers Did Next” and “What Newspapers Did Next (2).”

  • The New York Times covers big media companies’ likely plan to begin charging for online content in “Adding Fees and Fences on Media Sites.” Among the problems faced by the old guard,

    “It is the established media, with their legacy of high operating costs and outdated technology, that face this problem. Leaner, newer online competitors will continue to be free, avidly picking up the users lost by sites that begin to charge.”

  • PDNPulse talks with the Wall Street Journal photo department and examines how the newspaper’s attitude toward visual journalism has changed under Murdoch. PDN reports: “The good news for photography is that our editor, Robert Thomson, is a very visual person,” says Jack Van Antwerp, the paper’s photography director. And while you’re at it, check out the Wall Street Journal’s 2009 Year in Photos, which includes many friends.

Interview with W. Eugene Smith Grant winner Lu Guang

Lu Guang - Pollution in China

Lu Guang - Pollution in China

Lu Guang won this year’s W. Eugene Smith Grant for Humanistic Photography with his work documenting pollution in China. The pictures are astounding. In an interview with China’s NetEase, Lu Guang discusses how he funded the project, how he found out about the subjects he photographed, and how he has built a network of people all over the country who keep him up to date with pollution in their areas. Thankfully, China Hush has a translation of the interview.

False photos as a Statement about Photojournalism

John Vink over on this post on Lightstalkers brought up a very interesting case: two students, Guillaume Chauvin (23) and Rémi Hubert (22), upon winning a Paris Match photojournalism prize, announce that they have faked the pictures in their entry as an exercise and indictment of photojournalism. Here are the original images from Paris Match, from a story about “homeless students”, and this is (through rough google translation) the article from Liberation describing what happened.

One of the setup photographs. (Very rough translation: I can not go to the University Restaurant every day and I do not go to the Restos du Coeur. So I go to the markets and I give to friends who can go cook. " Armin, 23, Master of Sociology.)

One of the setup photographs. (Very rough translation: I can not go to the University Restaurant every day and I do not go to the Restos du Coeur. So I go to the markets and I give to friends who can go cook. Armin, 23, Master of Sociology.)

They revealed the deception during the award ceremony, reading a text in which they describe their “artistic” action as an “attempt to challenge” the “workings of a media discourse that has the ingredients for convenience and voyeurism in the representation of distress.” “It was said that it would be a good opportunity to reveal the mechanisms of some news does not check his sources and information and relies on sensationalism,” says Rémi Hubert.

What do you think? A valid (respectable? responsible?) form of criticism?

As for me: I think that this is a very provocative (and perhaps intelligent) approach to breaching this important subject, but I need to know more about their motivations… as I’m not convinced this is ultimately a responsible approach. I don’t think (or, I don’t want to think) that journalism is doing such wholesale falsification of stories, as these two students have done, and thus their actions go far beyond the more subtle point they’re trying to make. Bob Black has the first nice response on that lightstalkers thread; I think I am agreeing with him.

Also, I want to ask the students, what would you have done had you not won this award and gotten that stage to make your written statement? What would the message have been then?

Be sure too to read some of the comments left on the Liberation article for a taste of how the French public is reacting to this revelation and statement. Some are very interesting.

(Last, sorry for the crude translations, I hope they are reasonably accurate as I had to revise some of the grammar for it to make any sense. If you’d like to contribute a non-google translation I would be happy to amend ours)

Brian Ulrich can’t believe he’s alive…

Brian Ulrich can’t believe he’s alive because he’s just been named a 2009 Guggenheim Fellow. Other photographers awarded the fellowship this year, most previously unknown to me: Thomas Joshua Cooper (examples), Osamu James Nakagawa, Suzanne Opton (you may have seen her Soldier Billboard Project), Anna Shteynshleyger, Cheryle St. Onge, and Byron Glen Wolfe (can’t find anything online for Wolfe… update: link found thanks to Tom in the comments).

Brian Ulrich has long been a favorite of mine. His work documenting retail stores, thrift stores, and store backrooms, explains the current American economy (starting about when George W. Bush told the American public that the most patriotic thing they could do after Sept. 11 was to go shopping) better than any photojournalism I’ve seen. Ulrich’s recent essay on closed stores in the suburbs for Time left me a little wanting (except for a picture or two), but the rest of his work is top notch, for sure.

First Book Prize: Jennette Williams

I have no idea if this is old news or not, as I just stumbled upon it yesterday: The latest winner of the First Book Prize, awarded by Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies and The Honickman Foundation, is Jennette Williams for her project on Women Bathing.
Williams was selected by Mary Ellen Mark for the biannual prize, and now will have a book published of her work. The last winner was Danny Wilcox Frazier with his terrific project documenting rural Iowa published as Driftless: Photographs from Iowa. He was selected by Robert Frank, you can see some pictures here.
Great work from both, this is a great award and I’m happy to see it out there. Next entry is in 2010 so start planning now

Quick Deadlines

I know plenty of people are following our dvafoto Deadline Calendar, which you can always find on the right-hand column on our site. I just wanted to send out a reminder that a number of popular grants and contests are coming due, because they definitely caught me off guard.

Lutton's dining room table in Seattle, 2007

Lutton's dining room table in Seattle, 2007

First, the ever-popular Emerging Photographer Grant for 2009 sponsored by David Alan Harvey through his online Burn Magazine along with Magnum. This is due Wednesday, April 1 via online submission with Photoshelter.

Also two big European awards from manufacturers are due now: the Linhof Young Photographer Award has a postmark date of Tuesday March 31 and the Hasselblad Masters Awards (with a handy ‘up and coming’ category) has an online submission due Wednesday April 1. All of these have free entry.

Lastly Hey Hot Shot’s next entry period is due May 1st, online submission for $60.

So finish your edits. There are more prizes down the line, be sure to keep your eyes on the calendar which we’ll update when we can with the prizes and grants that we’re interested in. Feel free to email us suggestions for things we’re missing and we’ll work on sharing them too.

UPDATE: Since posting this earlier I’ve found a few more things that are happening this week: Px3: Prix de la Photographie Paris has apparently extended their deadline until Tuesday March 31, with student and pro categories. Also you can submit for exhibitions at two major photojournalism festivals: Visa Pour L’Image is due Friday April 3 and The Noorderlicht International Photofestival has submissions due Saturday April 4. Good luck!

What Ails Us

Let’s have a look at an interesting monologue, in the form of a letter to a friend of his, from the always engaging Asim Rafiqui on his wonderful young blog The Spinning Head about What Ails Photojournalism.

Photos are not journalism. Journalism is an endeavor with a commitment to communal and social responsibility. It is a public service with the objective of keeping check on abuses of power, the rights of the individual, the protection of the well fare of the community, the exposure of the illegal, the tracking down of the downright unjust. I said this before in a lightstalker post, journalism will rely on amateurs the day it itself become amateurish. It is not multimedia that will save journalism or photojournalism, but a commitment to quality and a commitment back to the public service. We are far from this realization.

There is a lot in here, and while he admits that it “was written in a single breath and hence carries within it errors of insight and judgment” I definitely agree that it “remains interesting enough”. He calls to task the whole culture and ‘machine’ of publishing and photojournalism. “There is another underlying reason why photojournalism is dying, and that we are still not prepared to confront. The reason is that most photographers and photojournalists are purveyors of cliches and repetitive, predictable stories.”; he calls for innovation in both our stories and our way of storytelling. Culture all around us is moving forward and evolving through new media and at new speed. What has been good (W Eugene Smith-type) remains so, but it is not enough … innovation must take place, the same in any field.

Not to quote too much (just go read the whole thing, it is worth your time and I’d love to hear the different reactions it is sure to bring up in our diverse readership), but this seems to me to hit directly on the point. As a photographer banging his head against walls trying to get stories produced I’ve gotten to the point where I really am taking into consideration what kind of story each publication would want to see by looking at what they’ve done before and exporting it. In some sense I’m honestly trying to find the cliche that will mesh with an editor’s preconceived notions of what is happening here, just to sell a picture. Its not what I want or why I became a photographer, but somehow it is becoming ingrained as ‘how its done’:

We have lost our love of the story. We are no longer telling interesting stories. In fact it could be argued that photojournalism today is basically middle class voyuerism. It carries with it the stifling and infantile morality of a middle brow suburban family and attempts to deliver ’shock’ stories to titilate them into watching. Or it just reduces to historical and charter-tour cliches stories that could be rich, complex and eye-opening.

Just look at National Geographic – if its Iran, its Persipolis. if its Bolivia, its the Antiplano. if its Pakistan, its the Taliban. Tiresome, boring, repetitive, predictable, uncreative, uninteresting stories about some of the most interesting and evolving countries in the world! Even the formulas and mechanics of photojournalism are boring and predictable. This magazine refuses to go and explore places in new ways, to produce angles that are creative and interesting, and that challenge our thinking and ideas about a place. Is Persipolis really all that one has to stay about Iran today? This incredibly complex and incredibly interesting country is left silenced! (sic)

As someone who just recently moved to Belgrade in part to put a lot of my time and focus on the Balkans it kills be to be told again and again, by editors and photographers alike, that this “story is over”, that I missed my chance to photograph here now that the wars are over. Are you kidding me? There is so much happening here, worthwhile stories around almost every single corner that I’m convinced would be engaging and interesting for audiences if there were presented to them. But I’m told that people aren’t interested, that they’ve moved on. Or is that the editor’s inference? I honestly think that if you make an interesting story with interesting photographs, the readers and viewers will come. The disconnect is that access to viewers, and while plenty of us are trying to publish our work ourselves (see below) there is a realistic gap in time and technology to gaining a critical mass of viewers. It will take time, yes, but we’re not being helped very much. I think Rafiqui would agree that our community itself is stifling these possible stories, forcing us to look for the exotic or sensational (or worse, “newsworthy”), in other words, the cliche. Yes there is news, and sensational exotic moments and places in our world. But that is so very far removed from most anyone’s daily life and I really don’t think our interest is limited to this. A ‘day in the life’, no, but a creative look at something we’ve never seen before is worth much more of our time, and I think our audience would agree with their own attention span, than another look at something we’ve seen time and again. I’d ask what came first, the audience for celebrity-based, false-exotic ‘journalism’ or the publications that provided it? I think there must be some element of the top-down here, something must have started with the publications and their editorial decisions.

Not all of Rafiqui’s arguments are new, but I give him credit for putting this all together into an essay and not being afraid to really call out the mainstream institutions (publishers, festivals, editors and photographers) for their assumed wisdom and conservatism toward moving beyond antiquated traditions and conventions of storytelling and of what is an ‘acceptable’ story in the first place (see Part II/III especially). They and our peers don’t understand what is happening (not that I, Scott or Asim necessarily do either, as Rafiqui rightly admits at the end of his piece: no one knows the future. But I think we can agree with some thought that there are wrong paths and bad ideas to be following right now). Conventional wisdom and the most popular outlets and photographers are doing us wrong; that is the problem. It is up to individuals and small teams to push new models forward, and we’re all on our own for now.

And people are doing it. I’ll start from this old post of mine titled Doing It Yourself where I look at Alec Soth’s observation about Magnum needing to become its own producer to survive. A precursor to this discussion and Rafiqui’s piece I think. Along these lines look at the Luceo Images crew who are pulling things in tight and developing their own systems for distribution, promotion and funding. Of course Magnum Photos is actually the best example in my mind of attacking these issues head-on with their growing social networking (Facebook, Twitter, blogging) and the development of their Educational arm alongside their existing Cultural wing to expand their brand and marketing opportunities with partnerships with media-related companies like HP, Photoshelter and Blurb to create a series of Grants (Burn) and Awards (Expression Award) for photographers outside of Magnum while retaining some funding for parallel opportunities with their own photographers. Old school business tactics I’m sure (I’d have to ask my brother the business major…) but innovative all the same in this market.

Good pictures are not enough. We all need to be smarter and more creative in how we do stories. From the very idea to the approach to funding, distributing and publishing the pictures. If we want to keep doing work that matters to us we are being forced to find a way around the current logjam. Left out on our own (M Scott and I are perfect living examples of this) we must adapt and survive somehow. There aren’t many scraps to be had from the MSM at the moment so we look elsewhere. Where to is the question, and I think Rafiqui’s astute pressure for elevated and evolved stories and storytelling is part of the answer.

And so he ends with a positive look at the coming opportunities, which is somewhat similar to Vincent LaForet’s much ballyhooed essay on Sportsshooter titled The Cloud is Falling (which I think Rafiqui calls out earlier in his piece). This is not a contradiction though: we agree that in this time of shrinking budgets we must see that there are other markets and outlets beyond the ‘old guard’ of magazines that will have potential for growth, profit and excellent work that are just now developing or are yet to. We’re thinking too narrowly. A lot of people are talking about this point right now (and Colberg follows up with another interesting post citing examples), and no one either knows or is willing to share exactly how to exploit it (with the exception of LaForet who is essentially flaunting his recent successes on his blog, especially around the ridiculously fawned over film “Reverie” that debuted last year as an example of the ‘next big thing’.. DLSRs with HD Video capability. Personally, this falls right into the sights of Rafiqui’s quote about multimedia). Scott is quite correct in pointing out that LaForet’s latest successes are not in photojournalism. There’s nothing wrong with this work, but there’s little use advocating it as a savior model for real photography. $10,000 budgets for a 5 minute video don’t come from nowhere, no matter what ridiculous music you put in it. They’re based on advertising calculations and in LaForet’s case they’re directed toward photographers themselves (is that sustainable?). These budgets don’t, and probably won’t, materialize for the stories we need to see; It is great for LaForet to be able to pursue his interests with these sponsored videos but I dare say they’re not “a public service” nor apropos to our society’s needs of finding a sustainable source of photojournalism in the future. We need to produce work that engages on its own merit.

And on multimedia not being a savior (a cry both M. Scott and I have been shouting for ages): “multimedia is merely a mechanism that can never hide the banality or predictability of a subject. It is a means to an end, but if the end if poor, no amount of flash and dash will save anything.” Scott has always said something to the effect of, ‘unless a multimedia piece has a perfect photo story coupled with perfect audio (think This American Life) the sum will be less than its parts’ and thus the multimedia would be less important, useful and worthwhile than doing just pictures or just audio.

I say this as I sit here and stare into the void – confident that I have strong new ideas, scared that no one will value them, determined that i have no choice but to step into the void itself. Your second reference about ‘tenacity’ was right on the mark. Like any field where you pursue a passion a love and a need to be free of the machinery of the capitalist, you must be prepared to pay a heavy price. Our societies do not value those who do not serve the interests of others, but merely their own whims, curiousities, loves and fears.

Amen. And good luck to us all. I know we will succeed but it will be a rough road. I am scared too that no one will value the pictures, ideas and vision I have and that I know seriously talented friends and colleagues, all of us underemployed and struggling, possess. Rough going now and for some future, but the good ideas and great stories and images will rise. I hope this is just the start of a dialogue, I know my thoughts are not fully reasoned out, and that we need to keep thinking and talking about this. Let it rip in the comments please!

Be sure to follow up with some of Asim Rafiqui‘s own work. He is the 2009 winner of the Aftermath Project grant for his innovative project The Idea of India that I think is a great example of this new storytelling and distribution that he is preaching in this essay. Have a look, tell us what you think.

(And lastly, sorry if there was any funny business with double-postings or with the RSS as this went up, I was having some backside publishing problems)

Latest Getty Grants Announced

Getty Images has (finally) announced the winners of the February 2009 prizes. The two big winners of the $20,000 professional grants are dvafoto favorites Alex Majoli and Paolo Pellegrin, both Italian photographers from Magnum. They are continuing large projects of theirs that we have seen previously: Majoli produced a terrific ‘Magnum in Motion’ piece of his project Requiem in Samba a year or two ago and Pellegrin’s project “Iraqi Refugees” was shown in an exhibition at Visa Pour l’Image this past year as ‘The Iraqi Diaspora’ to rave reviews. Deep congratulations to both for extremely worthy projects (be sure to read their proposals on the Getty site), I cannot wait to see more work from both.
Also announced were the first in a series of Student Grants of $5,000, to Bolivian photographer (by way of the US) Maximiliano Braun for his project “Stay With Me”. He writes, “The Getty Images grant will allow me to continue a project I began in South Africa, looking into the lives of families caring for a relative living in a vegetative state due to brain damage.” The other winner is German photographer Andy Spyra for his ongoing work in Kashmir documenting the results of the long-simmering war there. Terrific pictures.

On a side note, I’m so excited to see that Alex Majoli is shooting more editorial work again. (And that picture I posted above has long been a favorite of mine). For example, see his coverage of Pakistan, to the Russo-Georgian Conflict and most recently the latest Israel-Gaza Conflict on the Magnum site.

Update and Upcoming

Sorry about the distinct slacking of posting here on Dva in the last week or two by both M. Scott and myself. He is on the road in China without easy access to the internet (not to mention he is better out shooting rather than blogging anyways) and I am in full-on crisis mode getting ready for a major change in my life. On January 16 I am leaving Seattle for New York and DC, to cover the inauguration and field meetings with all of the fine editors in the City, before heading to my new home of Belgrade in the first week of February. I have much more to share about this trip and this relocation, and I’ll be sure to write more here in the coming weeks, but first I must take care of all the massive to-do lists I have lying around… I’m sure you can understand.

Also stressful: Why is January 15th the deadline for all of the photo contests, grant and proposals I have on my calendar? As you can see on our Dvafoto Deadline Calendar (helpfully listed on the bottom-right corner of the site and available as a feed to go straight in to your calendar software) there is a lot coming due including POYi, World Press Photo, Days Japan and Px3 Paris. Get on your contest horse everyone and good luck! We’ll chat soon again.

(Oh, and if you are in New York or DC, or Belgrade/Prishtina, and want to meet up when I swing through I’d love to meet some of our readers. Especially if you’re an editor! Get in touch via email or the comments.)

Snow at the Klein house near Cle Elum, WA. 1/4/08.

Snow at the Klein house near Cle Elum, WA. 1/4/08.