Alexia Foundation Announces 2015 Photojournalism Grants

Photo by 2014 Alexia Foundation Professional Grantee Sebastian Liste

The Alexia Foundation has announced that it is now accepting applications for its 2015 Professional and Student Grants. The grants and scholarships were created to enable photojournalists to create work that gives voice to those who go unheard, fosters cultural understanding and exposes social injustice.

The Professional Grant Winner will receive $20,000 to help produce his or her proposed project. 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, and $500 will be awarded to that student’s academic department. A student award will also be given to the Second Place Winner. The judges will determine the number of Award of Excellence Winners there will be.

The Gilka Grant, honoring Robert E. Gilka, will recognize the best student project proposal that also includes a multimedia component. The winner of the Gilka Grant will receive a scholarship to attend the Kalish Workshop.

In the judging of applications, the strength of the proposal will be judged equally to photographic skills. The grants go to those who clearly and concisely propose significant projects that share in the Foundation’s mission and who also submit photographic or motion materials that reflect the ability to execute the proposed project.

The deadline for submissions for the Professional Grant is 2 p.m. Jan. 29, 2015. The deadline for the Student Grant is 2 p.m. on Feb. 2, 2015. Applying for the Student Grant is free, but there is a $50 application fee for the Professional Grant. Please review the rules and application requirements at Alexiafoundation.org.

Making Waves with the New Nikon D750

 

The Nikon D750 has won the coveted award of Popular Photographers Camera of the Year 2014 and I’m not a bit surprised. I was impressed by the power they packed into this well designed body. I bet there is more technology in the full frame D750 then they sent up in the space ship Apollo.

I recently made a trip to Puerto Rico and challenged this camera out in every imaginable way. We put it through some serious tests and literally almost got washed away a few times. The weather-sealed magnesium-alloy body saved the camera and me.  I love working in very low light situations and took it inside pitch black caves. There was no pixelating. The high-speed action was tack sharp as cliff divers plunged beneath me. I fell in love with the well designed, tiltable 3.2-inch monitor that allowed me to get extreme angles and create unusual images shot from the ground.  Combine that with Nikon’s 3D AF tracking. It is simply the best focus tracking you can find.

This camera is great for serious amateurs and professionals. I have it in my lineup now. Its built for high-speed action, high resolution photography and is the best value for money you can find for about $2500.

You can see some of the images here: http://amivitale.photoshelter.com/gallery/Nikon-D750/G00007ud9lhVU850

You can see the official announcement on the PopPhoto web Pages: http://www.popphoto.com/gear/2014/11/camera-year-nikon-d750

2014 Alexia Women’s Initiative Grant Winner is Mary F. Calvert

The Alexia Foundation has announced that the recipient of the 2014 Women’s Initiative Grant is Mary F. Calvert, an independent photojournalist based in the United States. Calvert will utilize the $25,000 grant for her project “Missing in Action: Homeless Female Veterans.”

“Female veterans are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population in the United States and are four times more likely to become homeless than civilian women,” Calvert tells the foundation in her proposal. Yet, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs is ill equipped to address the issues faced by female veterans, many of whom are mothers and single parents.

Calvert’s work will focus on the Los Angeles region, where the largest concentration of homeless veterans live. She will examine the painfully slow response to this crisis by the beleaguered U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs as well as the organizations that attempt to help these women. Calvert will put a human face on this neglected crisis by making compelling photographs of the women affected and allowing them to tell their stories in their own voices.

“Mary Calvert’s project on homeless female veterans in Los Angeles qualifies as the poster story for our mission statement,” said Alexia Foundation co-founder Aphrodite Tsairis. “The stark emotion evoked in her images promises to deliver the raw naked truth about a neglected segment in the military – the debilitating aftermath for abused women in the armed forces.”

Congratulations, Mary!

American Illustrator-American Photography

American Illustrator-American Photography are juried showcases for established, emerging and student illustrators and photographers. The award annuals offer high visibility and recognition where it matters most. Winners are published in a large-format, luxurious, hardcover, showcasing  work that’s ahead of its time.

The AI-AP books, published annually in November, are the first go-to resourses for art directors, designers, photo editors and art buyers who insist on assigning only the best original, thoughtful and compelling pictures.

Canon Female Photojournalist Award

The Canon Female Photojournalist Award is an annual prize for women photojournalists. Women photojournalists worldwide are welcome to enter the competition, for which there is no age limit. The 8,000-euro award enables the winners to finance their projects and have their work exhibited at the festival in Perpignan and later in Paris at the Cosmos Galery. I’m grateful to have been a former recipient.

Fulbright National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

The Fulbright – National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship is a new component of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program that provides opportunities for U.S. citizens to participate in an academic year of overseas travel and digital storytelling in up to three countries on a globally significant social or environmental topic. This Fellowship is made possible through a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the National Geographic Society.

Ian Parry Scholarship

The Ian Parry Scholarship is an international photographic competition for young photographers who are either attending a full-time photographic course or are under 24. Entrants must submit a portfolio and a brief synopsis of a project they would undertake if they won the scholarship. The prize consists of £3,500 towards their chosen assignment £500 to those awarded Highly Commended and Commended, as well as a choice of Canon equipment, publication of the finalist’s work in The Sunday Times Magazine and admittance into the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass. Reportage by Getty Images adds the winer to their Emerging Talent Group and Save the Children offers one of the finalists an all expense paid assignment. Deadline is typically in August. Watch the Ian Parry Scholarship website for more details.

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.

 

Film for Ripple Effect Images

MediaStorm  created a beautiful film about my work with Ripple Effect Images. Our aim is to tell the stories that empower women around the world. Watch it HERE.

 

For photographer Ami Vitale, the pivotal moment occurred in Guinea-Bissau.

 

It was the start of her career and she was visiting her sister in the Peace Corp. Vitale expected Africa to be filled with war, famine, plague or the other extreme, exotic safaris.

 

Living in West Africa for six months showed her not only “how the majority of people on the planet live their day-to-day life,” but that people were not as hopeless as the newspapers portrayed. There was “a great deal of joy there.”

 

It is a revelation that has guided Vitale through 80 countries and a 13-year career.

 

Her original desire to take “beautiful pictures” was transformed into a desire to do justice to people and their stories. As a photographer Vitale’s focus has centered on issues surrounding women, poverty and health. The common denominator to all of her stories, she realized, is nature, specifically climate change. And it’s women who bare the brunt of those changes.

 

But when a woman is offered the tools to improve her situation, she runs with the opportunity. She transforms communities. “It’s a ripple effect,” says Vitale.

 

It’s the desire to see change that led Ami Vitale to join Ripple Effect Images, a photography organization started by Annie Griffiths that shares imagery with other changemakers.

 

“We are telling the stories that are so important and get lost in the headlines,” says Vitale. “They are the key to connecting things and allowing people to get engaged and make a difference.”]

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New work from Montana

Aspiring photographers often ask me where they might go to find the best stories. My answer is always the same – get to know your own backyard, what’s close at hand, rather than traveling around the world just to capture images of something foreign or exotic.  My rationale is that if you can tell these stories of every day life and focus on what we have in common rather than the obvious differences, then you will succeed as a storyteller.

Ironically, I have rarely listened to my own advice and the past dozen years has seen me crisscross the globe playing witness to civil unrest, turmoil, and violence in over 85 countries.  I broke my pattern in 2010 when I moved to Montana and have tried to base myself in this beautiful but austere landscape.

The images I am now able to create tell the story about our deep connection to land, the importance we place in stewardship, and a vanishing way of life in the American West. The folks whom I have got to know are remarkable in their fortitude, work ethics, and the neighborliness they exhibit everyday.  It is not an easy story but one that requires patience and persistence to birth – and yet I believe it is as rewarding in the telling as the more sensational events I have had the opportunity to cover.

Check out this month’s Viewfinder in Orion magazine and the New Yorker lens blog to see some of my images from  home.