Eugene Smith Fund reaches 45th annual grant milestone

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The W. Eugene Smith Fund announced it is now accepting applications for its 45th annual Grant in Humanistic Photography with a top prize of $30,000. An additional $10,000 grant will be awarded as a Fellowship, and one Finalist will be deemed worthy of special recognition and presented with a $7,500 grant. The Smith Fund is also accepting applications for its seventh annual Eugene Smith Student Grant, which will honor the top student entry with a $5,000 grant. The student grant is open to all collegiate-level students currently enrolled in full-time or part-time programs, including graduate studies.

The Smith Fund also announced it has established new submission guidelines for the Howard Chapnick Grant, which recognizes programs–not individuals–that significantly contribute to the field of documentary photography through education. Education, as defined broadly, could include not only direct learning, but also research, publication, archives, exhibitions, online resources, and social media dissemination–but only if these activities are dedicated to knowledge-sharing purposes intended to effect change. Now in its 27th year, the grant was named in honor of Howard Chapnick, president of the Black Star photo agency, and a mentor to photographers around the world for decades. The grant will award $5,000 to the winning entry. A voluntary entry fee of $25 can be paid through the Smith Fund’s GoFundMe page.

The deadline for submitting applications for all grants is Oct. 8, 2024.

Since the Smith Fund’s inception in 1979, it has awarded more than $1.3 million to photographers whose past work and proposed projects follow the tradition of W. Eugene Smith’s career as a photographic essayist. None of the grants presented by the Smith Fund are endowed, and rely entirely on corporate contributions, foundation grants, and individual donations to fund its grants and fellowships.

“Thanks to the ongoing financial support from both new and longtime patrons, the W. Eugene Smith Fund is able to announce its 45th annual grant in humanistic and documentary photography, a truly remarkable milestone,” said Scott Thode, president of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund. “We are beyond grateful for the continued support from organizations including the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, PhotoWings, the John and Anne Duffy Foundation, The Joy of Giving Something, and Earth Vision Institute. It is because of this support that the Smith Fund was able to revive the Howard Chapnick Grant, increase the award for the Student Grant, and provide thousands of dollars in entry fee waivers to give underrepresented photographers an opportunity to submit and share their important stories with us,” Mr. Thode added.

The Smith Fund will continue its partnership with several international photo organizations, encouraging documentary photographers from a variety of demographic and socio-economic backgrounds to submit their work to the annual Smith Fund grants. Organizations currently partnering with the W. Eugene Smith Fund include African Photojournalism Database, African Women in Photography, Authority Collective, Black Women Photographers, Center for Photography Ethiopia, Diversify Photo, Everyday Projects, Foto Féminas, Indigenous Photograph, Magnum Foundation, MATCA, Market Photo Workshop, Women Photograph, and UCAB PhotoContact Project.

Collectively, these organizations provide media outlets, art buyers, and editorial directors with an expansive portfolio of diverse international talent whose work is often ignored or overlooked. As part of its support of the Smith Fund, the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation will once again help underwrite the cost of allowing these organizations to waive entry fees for the Smith Grant ($50), and Smith Student Grant ($10). Entrants should visit entry rules to determine if they qualify to have their entry fee waived.

Past recipients of the W. Eugene Smith Grant include Irina Werning (2023), Justyna Mielnikiewicz (2016), Peter van Agtmael (2012), Brenda Ann Kenneally (2000), Eli Reed (1992), and Graciela Iturbide (1987). For a complete list of past Smith Grant recipients, visit

The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, Inc. is a non-profit corporation qualified as tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and is supported by generous contributions from The Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, Earth Vision Institute, the John and Anne Duffy Foundation, and PhotoWings. Additional support is provided by the International Center of Photography, and Synergy Communications.