Recognizing the widespread financial need caused by the worldwide pandemic, the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography will break from tradition this year. Rather than award $40,000 to a single photographer, the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund will award $10,000 to five photographers whose work follows the tradition of compassionate photojournalism exhibited by W. Eugene Smith during his 45-year career.
To accommodate photographers who have had difficulty in applying this year, the Smith Fund has extended the deadline to May 30, 2020 at 11:59PM EST.
The W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography is presented annually to a photographer whose past work and proposed project, as judged by a panel of experts, follows the tradition of W. Eugene Smith's concerned photography and dedicated compassion evidenced during his 45-year career as a photographic essayist. The Judges will be looking for a photographer whose proposed project seems most likely to use exemplary and compelling photojournalism (possibly supplemented by or incorporating multi-media) to address an issue of import and impact related to the human condition; social change; humanitarian concern; armed conflict or interpersonal, psychological, cultural, social environmental, scientific, medical and/or political significance, ideally expressing an underlying acknowledgement of our common humanity
Applicants should submit provisional or ongoing work from an as-yet-to-be completed project that would likely benefit from (and likely be concluded if) the photographer were to receive the grant. Applicants may also submit limited supplementary past work on a related subject as a way of demonstrating the photographer's ability to execute the new proposed project. A written project proposal is required.
The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, independently administers the grant program that provides photographers with the financial freedom to carry out or complete a major photographic essay. For 2020, the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund will award $10,000 to five photographers in response to the global pandemic. An additional $5,000 grant will be dispersed as a Fellowship, and two finalists deemed worthy of special recognition will each be given a grant of $2,500.
A biography with up to 1500 characters (approximately 275 words) and a CV with up to 2000 characters (approximately 350 words). The CV can be submitted as a PDF.
The Project Proposal which should be titled and begin with a single paragraph summary of the project. The proposal description may be more fully described; however, this should be concise, journalistically realizable, visually translatable, humanistically driven, and not exceed 3000 characters (approximately 550/600 words). The applicant must affirm that the proposed project is ongoing and indicate how they will use the Smith Grant to fulfill it.
IMAGES: Applicants can submit up to 40 images total. These should consist of representative images from the project being proposed to the W. Eugene Smith Fund. The applicant can include in his/her submission, past work clearly marked that represents the candidate's vision and his or her ability to execute the project being proposed to the fund.
$50 USD per project.
Application Fee Waiver: Through a partnership with the African Photojournalism Database, Arab Documentary Photography Program, the Authority Collective, Diversify Photo, Foto Féminas, Natives Photograph, and Women Photograph, the Smith Fund will be making a select number of application fee waivers available to photographers seeking to apply to the Eugene Smith Grant and the Howard Chapnick Grant. Photographers who cannot afford the submissions fee should request a fee waiver from one of the following organizations before March 25, 2020. Please note: You must fit the demographic makeup of the individual organizations from whom you are requesting the waiver. *(Arab Documentary Photography Program: email@example.com; African Photojournalism Database: firstname.lastname@example.org; Authority Collective: email@example.com; Diversity Photo: firstname.lastname@example.org; Foto Feminas: email@example.com; Natives Photograph: firstname.lastname@example.org; Women Photograph: email@example.com).
The Fund's Board of Trustees appoints a three-member international jury every year. The jury meets twice. At its first session the Jury reviews the required materials: applications and proposals and photographs. They select a small number of finalists on the basis of the substantive and intellectual merit of their project. Finalists will be given the opportunity over a short period of time to refine their proposals and to answer specific questions from the Jury about their project. All awards will be presented in a ceremony held in New York City on October 14, 2020.
In the event the applicant is the recipient of the Smith Grant, applicant hereby agrees to donate to the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, as an unrestricted gift, twelve (12) digital images and twelve (12) prints of work completed as part of the project proposed herein. Applicant agrees to deliver six (6) of said images to the Fund nine (9) months after receiving the Grant, and the remaining six (6) of said images within eighteen (18) months after receiving the Grant.
The images shall become part of the W. Eugene Smith Legacy Collection at the International Center of Photography in New York. Applicant also agrees that as part of the unrestricted gift, the Smith Fund may exhibit the images and may use them to promote the activities of the Fund.
Biography with up to 1500 characters
Country of residence
CV with up to 2000 characters (or PDF file)
1 project per submission
1 to 40 images per project
File type must be JPG
At least 1500px on the long edge
I will be a student at the time of submission but I will have graduated by the time the grant is decided. Am I eligible to apply for the Student Grant?
Can I apply for both the Student Grant and the Smith Fund Grant?
I will be a student at the time of submission but I will have graduated by the time the grant is decided. Am I eligible to apply for the Smith Fund Grant?
The photographic part of my project is already finished, however I still need to edit the material and produce an exhibition and/or a book with it. For me the project is still ongoing and has yet to be launched. Can I apply for this grant?
No. The Smith Fund Grant is designed to help a photographer begin working on photographic project or help complete an ongoing photographic project.
Can students apply?
No. Students are eligible to apply for the W. Eugene Smith Fund Student Grant. Please select the student grant on app.picter.com/contests
Can collectives apply?
No. Group submissions or collectives are not eligible to apply for the Smith Grant.
Can non-professional photographers apply?
Yes. You do not need to be a professional documentary photographer or photojournalist to apply for the Smith Fund Grant.
Is there any age restriction for applicants?
Can I submit my application by mail?
No, the Smith Fund does not accept applications by regular mail. The application is online only.
Must my project have already been started?
Yes, your project as described in the Summary and the Project Proposal, must be ongoing and the images submitted should in part be from this ongoing body of work.
When will I be notified of the outcome of the Smith Fund Grant?
We will send an email notification on July 15, 2019 to all applicants.
Does the Smith Fund offer guidance or commentary on the proposals?
No. The Smith Fund receives numerous applications each year. With only a volunteer staff the Smith Fund cannot advise or offer feedback on submissions or proposals.
Can I submit multiple applications for different projects?
No. Individuals can submit only one proposal.
My Project Summary, Project Proposal, and/or C/V is longer than the length stated in the guidelines. Can I still submit it/them?\ We strongly encourage applicants to meet the stated requirements.
Can I enter if I live outside of the U.S.?
Yes. Except where prohibited by law, international applications can be submitted.
Will my images be sold?
No. You retain copyright to your photograph and the sponsors may not sell your photo entry for a fee. Grant recipient photos may be used in connection with the Smith Fund and promotion of the grant.
I am a professional freelance photographer but have been accepted into a graduate program in photography beginning in the fall. I am uncertain which grant, the Smith Grant or the Student Grant to apply for?
You would be eligible to apply for either grant, though you cannot apply for both. If you chose to apply for the Student grant, with your application please provide a copy of the signed enrollment letter from your chosen school.
Do you still have questions?
For additional questions email: firstname.lastname@example.org