The W. Eugene Smith Grant for Student Photographers is designed to encourage and support students whose photographic work renews the tradition of W. Eugene Smith's humanistic and compassionate photography. Special consideration will be given to work that promotes social change and that embraces new technologies and image distribution, and that seeks to integrate the tradition of photography and social change with contemporary practice. The Judges will be looking for a photographer and his or her proposed project that 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 or 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 also required. The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, a not-for-profit corporation qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, independently administers this grant which provides a student photographer with the financial freedom to carry out or complete a photographic essay. For 2020, the amount of the grant will be $5,000. The award will be presented in a ceremony held in New York City on October 14, 2020.
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 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 Fund Student Grant to fulfill it.
StudentID: A PDF of a current Student ID must be submitted.
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.
$10 USD per project
The Fund appoints a jury every year chosen from the members of the Board of Trustees. The jury meets twice. At the first session, the Jury reviews the required materials: CV's proposals and photographs. They select a small number of Finalists on the basis of the substantive and intellectual merit of the 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.
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?
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?
Can I apply for both the Student Grant and the Smith Fund Grant?
Can non-students apply?
No. This is a special award conceived to encourage a commitment to social issues by current students. Non students are eligible to apply for the Smith Fund Grant.
Can collectives apply?
Can high school students apply?
Can non-photography majors apply?
Yes. You do not need to be a photography major to apply.
Do you need to be enrolled in an art school?
No. Any student registered for a full time degree, diploma or certificate program is eligible, on both undergraduate and graduate levels.
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 work will be judged as a work-in-progress and the images submitted should be from this ongoing body of work.
When will I be notified of the outcome of the W. Eugene Smith Student Photographer Grant?
We will send an email notification on July 15 to all applicants.
Does the Smith Fund offer guidance or commentary on the proposals?
No. 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, Bio and/or C/V are longer than the length stated in the guidelines. Can I still submit it/them?
We strongly encourage applicants to meet the stated requirements. Submissions exceeding the stated limits may not be reviewed.
What format should I save my digital images?
You should submit JPEG images saved with maximum quality compression with a long dimension of at least 1500 pixels, sRGB color space.
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 Grant and promotion of the grant.
I have been accepted into a Graduate program for the coming year but I will not have my student ID until August/September. Am I eligible to apply?
Yes, you are eligible to apply. With your application please provide a copy of the signed enrollment letter from your chosen school.
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.