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. This Grant is designed to help a photographer begin a photographic project or help complete an ongoing photographic project. The Judges will be looking for a photographer whose proposed project seems most likely to use exemplary and compelling photojournalism and documentary photography (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 other topics of interpersonal, psychological, cultural, social, environmental, scientific, medical and/or political significance, ideally expressing an underlying acknowledgement of our common humanity.
Applicants should submit new or ongoing work from a 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 a new proposed project. A written description and proposal is required.
For 2022, the amount of the Smith Grant will be $40,000. 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. 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.
A biography up to 1500 characters (spaces included). A CV, up to 2000 characters (spaces included), is optional. The CV can also be submitted as a PDF of unlimited length.
The project description is a concise synopsis or summary of the project. This outline should be brief but comprehensive. Ideally, the project will be journalistically realizable, visually translatable, and humanistically driven. The description should not exceed 2000 characters (spaces included).
The project proposal should go into greater detail, describing the practical aspects of the applicant's plan. It should explain how the applicant will use the Smith Grant funds to launch or complete the project. The proposal should not exceed 3000 characters (spaces included).
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. Or, if a new project, the applicant can include in their submission past work clearly marked as such, that represents the candidate’s vision and their ability to execute the project being proposed to the fund.
Application Fee Waiver: Through a partnership with the African Photojournalism Database, African Women in Photography, the Authority Collective, Black Women Photographers, Diversify Photo, the Everyday Projects, Foto Féminas, Indigenous Photograph, the Magnum Foundation, 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, the Howard Chapnick Grant, and the Eugene Smith Student Grant. Photographers who cannot afford the submission fee should request a fee waiver from one of the following organizations before March 25, 2022. Please note: You must fit the demographic makeup of the individual organization from whom you are requesting the waiver. (African Photojournalism Database: email@example.com; African Women in Photography: firstname.lastname@example.org; Authority Collective: email@example.com; Black Women Photographers: firstname.lastname@example.org; Diversify Photo: email@example.com; Everyday Projects: firstname.lastname@example.org; Foto Féminas: email@example.com; Indigenous Photograph: firstname.lastname@example.org; Magnum Foundation: email@example.com; Women Photograph: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Fund’s Board of Trustees impanels a four member international jury every year. The jury meets twice. At the first session the Jury reviews the required materials: applications, proposals, and photographs. They select ten finalists on the basis of the substantive and intellectual merits of their projects. 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. At the second session the jury will review all new material and select the W. Eugene Smith Grant recipient, the W. Eugene Smith Grant Fellow, and two W. Eugene Smith Grant Finalists.
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 Smith Fund will disperse $35,000 upon award of the Grant and the balance upon submission of the final prints.
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.
Country of residence
Biography with up to 1500 characters
CV with up to 2000 characters (or PDF file)
1 project per submission
1 to 40 files per project
Allowed file types: JPG
At least 1500px on the long edge
Can students apply?
No. Students are eligible to apply for the W. Eugene Smith Student Grant. Please select the student grant on app.picter.com/contests
Can collaborators apply?
Yes. We will accept applications from multiple creative collaborators.
Can non-professional photographers apply?
Yes. You do not need to be a professional documentary photographer or photojournalist to apply for the W. Eugene Smith 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.
When will I be notified of the outcome of the Smith Fund Grant?
We will send an email notification in July 2022 to all applicants on the status of their submission.
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.
How do you define a Project Description vs a Project Proposal?
The Project Description summarizes the project in 2000 characters or less (spaces included). The Project Proposal, up to 3000 characters (spaces included), should map out in concrete terms how the applicant will use the Smith Grant funding to launch or complete the project.
What is the difference between a Biography and a CV?
A biography is a short paragraph summary of you (maximum 1500 characters, spaces included). A CV (maximum 2000 characters, spaces included) is a fully detailed list of your accomplishments, and is optional. If including a CV, it can be submitted as a PDF of any length.
My Project Description, Project Proposal, or Biography is longer than the length stated in the guidelines. Can I still submit it/them?
We strongly encourage applicants to meet the stated requirements.
What format should I use to save my digital images?
You should submit 72 dpi JPG images saved with maximum quality compression with a long dimension of at least 1500 pixels, sRGB color space.
I have been researching a new photo project in the past year and only now am I beginning to travel, make photographs and pursue interviews. Nothing significant has been photographed just yet (as my time had been spent mostly in archives and working on access to sources). Is a project like this, at this stage, appropriate as a submission to the Smith Fund?
Yes. The word component of the application is paramount here and will establish the merit of the project. For images, you might consider submitting the few early pictures from this new project alongside others that are close in style and approach to what you are now trying to accomplish.
Can I enter if I live outside of the U.S.?
Yes. Except where prohibited by law, international applications can be submitted, and in fact are encouraged.
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 Grant?
Can I apply for both the Student Grant and the Smith 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 Grant is designed to help a photographer begin working on a photographic project or to help complete photography for an ongoing project.
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 choose to apply for the Student grant, with your application please provide a copy of the signed enrollment letter from your chosen school.
I would like to apply to archive and organize my many years of photography in the form of prints, portfolios, film and negatives. This project is in preparation for exhibitions and a retrospective. Is this an acceptable project within the guidelines?
No. The Smith Grant is designed to help a photographer begin working on a photographic project or help complete photography of an ongoing project.
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.
Can I apply for the Smith Grant using the same project I proposed in the prior year?
If I was short-listed in the past year, can I apply again using the project for which I was recognized? Yes.
Do you still have questions?
For additional questions email: email@example.com