Open Society Documentary Photography Project

The Open Society Documentary Photography Project offers grants for documentary photographers from Central Asia, the South Caucasus, Afghanistan, Mongolia, and Pakistan. The fund awards approximately ten cash stipends in the amount of $3,500 USD each to photographers to produce a photo essay on a critical human rights or social issue in the region. Along with the stipend, successful applicants will receive two master-level workshops on visual storytelling through photography and multimedia. Watch the Open Society website for information about the next round.

Rory Peck Training Fund

The Rory Peck Training Fund makes hostile environment training affordable for freelancers. Since its launch in 2000, the Fund has given over 500 bursaries to freelance journalists, photographers, cameramen and filmmakers, enabling them to gain the vital skills and knowledge needed for work in hostile environments. The Trust works with five approved course providers. You must take your training with one of them, but it is up to you which one.

It Takes A Village to Protect a Rhino

I am thrilled to be starting my first crowd funding campaign with the new site, IndieVoices and I’m incredibly grateful to The Photo Society, for selecting it to be among the first that they launch. The New York Times ran an interview about this project. Read more about it here.

This is an important story I began with The Nature Conservancy and the Northern Rangelands Trust about indigenous communities uniting to combat poaching in Northern Kenya. If this is an issue you support, please share this link.  My stories will focus on the indigenous nomadic communities of Northern Kenya on the frontlines of the poaching wars and their efforts to preserve community cohesion, ultimately the best immunization against forces that threaten their wildlife and their way of life.

Commercial poaching organized by sophisticated heavily armed criminal networks and fueled by heavy demand from newly minted millionaires in emerging markets is devastating the amazing mega-fauna of the African plains.  It is entirely possible, even likely, that if the current trajectory of death continues, rhinos, elephants and a host of lesser know plains animals will be functionally extinct in our lifetimes.

Much needed attention has been focused on the plight of wildlife and the conflict between heavily armed poacher and increasingly militarized wildlife rangers.  However, the compelling story of indigenous communities caught in the cross-hairs of the poaching wars, and who may hold the key to saving Africa’s great animals, is largely untold.

The vast arid landscape of savannah, thorn-scrub and forested sky islands is populated by 14 indigenous semi-nomadic ethnicities–  Bajun, Boni, Borana, Giriama, Maasai, Ntorobo, Njemps, Ormoa, Pokomo,  Pokot, Rendillie, Samburu, Somali, and Turkana. Healthy populations of elephants including some massive tuskers roam this region while endangered black rhino, Grevy’s zebra and Hirola antelope hold on in globally significant numbers.  But armed poachers taking advantage of the porous borders of Somalia, and South Sudan put wildlife and people at grave risk, increasing instability, inter-clan conflict, and lawlessness. While government and private conservation organizations fight to strengthen anti-poaching efforts, communal cohesion with and between communities is the fabric upon which conservation depend.

The Northern Rangelands Trust is a collective of twenty-six indigenous groups covering 2.5 million hectares of Northern Kenya.  Through their efforts communities have begun to lay down their guns, relying on dialogue rather than warfare to settle inter-tribal conflict and collectively manage wildlife within their lands.  They are beginning to reap the benefits of their efforts as both conservation and tourism dollars flows into this extremely poor region.  And by managing grazing jointly they can better safeguard against the unpredictability of drought and climate change.  Poaching now threatens their recent successes and may rip apart fragile communities and permanently end a nomadic way of life.


Deadline for Alexia Photography Grant Approaching

The Alexia grant is a phenomenal award that provides grants and scholarships to photojournalists, enabling them to create work that gives voice to those who go unheard, fosters cultural understanding and exposes social injustice. In 2000, this grant changed my life when I won the professional grant. I was young and inexperienced and it allowed me to start my first story in the tiny, impoverished country of Guinea Bissau.  It was there – without the pressure of a deadline, or the expectation of a magazine  that I learned the importance of patience, of taking time to tell a story.  I thought I would stay a month but ended up living there for a half year, telling the stories of how the majority of people on this planet live. It was a powerful turning point when I realized I want to spend my life working to highlight the commonalities of human existence rather than our differences. It was also at that moment I realized that I was not going to be just a photographer. I was also going to be a storyteller.

The deadline for The Alexia Foundation Professional and Student Grants is Jan. 13, 2014 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. The Professional Grant carries a prize of $20,000 for a professional photographer to produce a substantial photo or multimedia story that makes the world a better place.  There are a total of six Student Grants available. The student winner will receive funding for a semester at the Syracuse University London Program,  a $1,000 cash grant to help produce the proposed body of work, a $300 gift card from Dury’s Photo and $500 will be awarded to that student’s academic department. Student awards will also be given to a Second Place Winner, and three Award of Excellence Winners.

This year, a new student grant has been added, The Gilka Grant, honoring Robert E. Gilka, the longtime director of photography for National Geographic Magazine and an important supporter of The Alexia Foundation. The Gilka Grant will recognize the best project proposal that also includes a multimedia component. The winner will receive a $1,500 scholarship to attend the Kalish Workshop.

I hope you apply and submit those proposals that inspire us. At the end of the day all of us are not only photographers.  We are storytellers and its important to cover not just the headlines but also to focus on the stories that unite us. Good luck!

Link to student grant:

Link to professional rules:

Link to grants page: