Eugene Smith Fund celebrates 40th anniversary; announces open entry for awards

Grants and Fellowships for Visual Storytellers Exceeds $1 Million Since 1979

New York, NY – January 28, 2019 – The W. Eugene Smith Fund announced it is now accepting applications for its 40th annual Grant in Humanistic Photography. Since the Fund’s inception in 1979, it has awarded over one million dollars to photographers whose past work and proposed projects follow the tradition of W. Eugene Smith’s 45-year career as a photographic essayist. The Smith Fund will present more than $50,000 in grants, fellowships, and special awards this year with one recipient receiving a $35,000 grant to complete their project. All entries are judged by a panel of industry experts.

The Smith Fund is also accepting applications for several other grants, fellowships, and special awards this year including the 23rd annual Howard Chapnick Grant, which honors an individual for his or her leadership in any field ancillary to photojournalism; the 2nd annual Eugene Smith Student Grant, which is open to all collegiate-level students; and several fellowships and special awards presented to other applicants at the judge’s discretion.

Photographers and other industry professionals interested in submitting applications for these grants (or interested in learning more about the grants and fellowship), should visit The deadlinefor submitting applications to all grants, fellowships, and special awards is April 30, 2019.

Recipients will be announced during a special ceremony in New York City in October. Additional information about the awards ceremony will be announced shortly. Attendance will be free and open to the public.

The Smith Fund Grant

Mark Petersen who was the recipient of last year’s $35,000 Smith Grant

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 exhibited during his 45-year career as a photographic essayist. Judges will be looking for a photographer (and his or her proposed project) that seem most likely to use exemplary and compelling photojournalism (possibly supplemented by or incorporating multi-media) to address an issue related to the human condition; social change; humanitarian concern; armed conflict; or cultural, social, environmental, and/or political significance, ideally expressing an underlying acknowledgment of our common humanity. Past recipients have included Mark Peterson (2018), Peter van Agtmael (2012), Brenda Ann Kenneally (2000), James Nachtwey (1993), Eli Reed (1992), Sebastião Salgado (1982), and Jane Evelyn Atwood (1980).

“For 40 years, the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund has championed the causes of documentary photographers around the world by providing more than $1 million in financial support to help bring their stories to life and provide a platform where their important work, in the name of humanistic photography, can be witnessed by millions of people around the world,” explained Lauren Wendle, president of the Fund’s Board of Trustees. “Thanks to our corporate supporters, we will award more than $50,000 in grants, fellowships, and special awards this year.”

Last year’s recipient, Mark Peterson, is a great example of the profound documentary stories being told through photographs and the significance the Smith Fund has established internationally over the past 40 years. His project, The Past is Never Dead, explored modern day American Confederacy and white nationalism.

Now in its second year, the Smith Fund Student Grant was created to encourage students to utilize the photographic medium as a form of humanistic observation and social activism. Stephen Frailey, a Smith Fund board member who initiated the grant said, “In our self-absorbed culture, we felt it was particularly important to renew the commitment to foster cultural dialogue through photography, and to embrace new technologies, image dissemination, and protocols borrowed from other aspects of our visual culture. The $4,000 grant provides a special category for collegiate-level students to submit their documentary photography and tell their stories.”

Sponsored by The Philip and Edith Leonian Foundation, special awards will be presented to two Smith Grant finalists whose works the judges deem as “exceptional and worthy of recognition.” Each special award recipient will receive $2,500.

Each year, the Board of Trustees appoints a three-member international jury that meets twice during the adjudication process. Finalists are selected based on the substantive, photographic, and intellectual merits of their project. They are then asked to submit a comprehensive electronic portfolio and write, if necessary, a more detailed and focused proposal to answer questions by the jury regarding their project.

The 23rd Annual Howard Chapnick Grant

Applications for the annual Howard Chapnick Grant are also open through April 30, 2019. The grant is presented to an individual for his or her leadership in any field ancillary to photojournalism, such as picture editing, research, education and management. This grant is not intended for photographers, but for champions of photography. It was established in 1996 to honor the memory of Howard Chapnick who led the Black Star photo agency, and to acknowledge his enormous contribution to photography. The $5,000 grant may be used by the recipient to finance a range of qualified undertakings, which might include a program of further education, special research, a long-term sabbatical project, or an internship to work with a noteworthy group or individual. This grant is not for the creation or production of photographs.

The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund is supported by generous contributions from The Incite Project, Herb Ritts Foundation, Canon USA, and The Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation.  Additional support is provided by Aperture, Brilliant Graphics, Center for Creative Photography (CCP), the International Center of Photography, MediaStorm, Photo District News (PDN), the School of Visual Arts BFA Photography, MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department, and Synergy Communications.

“Awarding these grants each year is made possible through industry-wide support and by private donors,” Lauren Wendle added. “It is imperative that we continue the funding, which allows these photographers to share their stories with the world. We invite anyone who is philanthropically minded and shares our interest in this special form of photography, to contact us. The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund is a not-for-profit corporation qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to the Smith Fund are tax-deductible.”