16 February 2018
16 February 2018 - Written by Giuseppe Oliverio
With many opportunities out there, what makes the PHM 2018 Grant worth the entry fee? Read the most relevant reasons to apply according to PHmuseum's founder.
© Max Pinckers, winner of the PHM 2014 Grant Main Prize
Your work and your photography vision should exist independently of the many awards and grants out there. Yet (good) grants and awards are often a powerful tool to move your career forward and shed light on your work. Here you can learn why the PHmuseum is among them and why you should consider applying.
I. You have to try. At PHmuseum we also produce documentaries, and we are in your shoes at the moment of submitting to film festivals: the competition is harsh, the entry fees are very high and almost always there is not even a cash prize! So why apply? Because being selected at a (good) film festival can open many doors in terms of recognition, network, and opportunities to eventually film a new movie. The same applies to photography grants. Application after application we have learned to accept that, even when your work is outstanding, you are generally selected one out 10-12 film festivals. Yet, if you don't give it a try, and if you are not ready to not be shortlisted for most of them, you will hardly take advantage of their benefits. So, at the moment of planning your work according to your budget, don't forget to consider the money you will need to apply to (good) grants and give it a try.
II. We promote your work month after month. One of the main reasons why we launched the PHmuseum Grant in 2013, and we still run it today, is that we considered it a powerful vehicle to discover new photographers and many of the strongest visual stories of the year. By applying you not only present your work to this edition's jury, but also to PHmuseum curators who will select and promote many projects in the different sections of the platform, such as Exhibition, News, and Story of the week. Many works are also included in our newsletter sent to a selected list of photo editors worldwide.
III. Finance yourself. I wish there was a film festival that not only grants movies recognition and promotion, but also the opportunity to really finance your future project. With the PHM 2018 Grant we offer £15,000 in cash, which can give you a substantial hand at the moment of completing a project or starting a new one. It's easy to win them? No. Yet the downside is the entry fee (£20-30) while the upside is £8,000 (1st prize), £3,000 (2nd prize), £2,000 (3rd prize), and £2,000 (New Generation Prize).
IV. A fantastic and diversified jury. When you apply, you are presenting your work before our judges (I wish I knew who the film festival reviewers are!) who might not award your work (as they all have to agree on it) but might notice and grant you a relevant opportunity in the near future. Here you can learn, for example, how judge Emilia van Lynden considers being a part of this jury a great way to discover new work for Unseen. Same goes for Genevieve Fussell at the moment of researching relevant work for The New Yorker - read her thoughts here. This year's jury is also very diversified in terms of photography background and ideas about the medium, which means that it could award a wide range of works, from classic photojournalism to groundbreaking visual projects.
V. Exhibit at a leading photography festival. Cortona On The Move is one of the best festivals on the circuit, and our grant gives you the opportunity to have a solo show there. It not only means recognition, exposure, and something you can include on your CV, but also the opportunity to attend the festival as a guest and meet many colleagues, photo editors, and curators. Moreover, please notice that this prize is awarded by Arianna Rinaldo, the Artistic Director who also takes note of other interesting projects - last year there where around 30 projects shortlisted only for this prize. Last but not least, it is also very fun and in the heart of Tuscany in the middle of the summertime. You can see more in this interview with last year winner Sandra Mehl.
VI. Grow your audience. Can you pay the bill with visibility? No. Is visibility a way to eventually pay the bills? Yes. Building and growing your own audience is a key aspect and unprecedented opportunities for contemporary photographers. Winners, honorable mentions and many selected projects will be promoted to our audience of 100,000 social media followers and 20,000 newsletter subscribers. The awarded projects will also be granted individual features on World Press Photo's Witness and projections at Cortona On The Move and Just Another Photo Festival. Real opportunities to reach people interested in your work. Who will you sell your photobooks to?
VII. Work on your work! A grant is often a good reason to stop your often ongoing project for a while and take some time to reflect upon it. Is the concept or story clear? Which photos should I select among the many I have shot? How should I articulate them? A (good) grant is always a good incentive to work on your work, ask feedback from friends and colleagues, and be critical towards your self. It will make you want to raise the bar and improve, especially if you don't win.
© Diana Markosian, winner of the PHM 2013 Grant New Generation Prize