9 Reasons to Apply to the 2019 Women Photographers Grant

With so many grants and initiatives out there, we explain why you should apply to our latest open call aimed at supporting female and non-binary photographers.

© Tamara Merino Bloch, shortlisted photographer 2018 Women Photographers Grant

When it comes to organising our next call for entry, we at PHmuseum always ask ourselves the same questions: why would I apply as a photographer? How can I benefit from the initiative and why is it worth the submission fee? Well, these are our answers in relation to the 2019 Women Photographers Grant.

I. JOIN THE CONVERSATION / one of the main reasons why we gave life to this grant is to state explicitly that we stand for gender equality. This initiative is a way to join forces with other organisations such as Vogue Italia, Firecraker, GirlGaze, and Foto-Feminas, and continue this relevant conversation. It is a way to remember that there are friends and colleagues who are still discriminated against or have less opportunities because of their gender - and that they can count on us. It’s a vehicle to stimulate awareness. Our aim is to support female and non-binary photographers, yet we need your support first as our effort would be worthless without the participation of many. Our initiative wouldn’t be so powerful without the opportunity to showcase and award meaningful projects.

II. WORK ON YOUR WORK / "It’s just about entering so even if you don’t win anything, you have still benefited. Although this may seem simplistic, it’s really some of the best advice I have ever been given! It’s all about continuing to try and continuing to improve.” So says South African photographer Alice Mann, the recipient of the 2018 New Generation Prize. Our Grant is a great way to see where your work stands, give life to a strong edit meant for the prize, write a good essay, and get feedback from friends and colleagues. It's a good excuse to stop photographing and invest time to keep working on the way you present your work and reflect on possible developments. If you need a hand, you can also work remotely with our mentors.

III. GET YOUR WORK OUT THERE / PHmuseum is a platform dedicated to discovering and promoting photographers and their work. Even if the main prizes are assigned by our international jury, our team reviews all the applications to select the work we feature on our channels. Every year more than 400 photographers are featured on our Instagram and Facebook accounts. Even during the application window, we are posting selected submissions from the current call. At the same time, we review or publish the work of 120 photographers a year in our News section, and invite more than 60 artists to present their projects in our online exhibitions. With 300,000 visitors annually and around 120,000 people who follow us on social media, we constantly give exposure to the photographers who are part of PHmuseum and support them in sharing their work with our international audience. PHmuseum is a vehicle that lets your work be seen internationally, and our grants program is the main channel through which we discover new projects.

IV. MEANINGFUL PRIZES / Four winners will share a cash prize pool totaling £10,000. Yet we've noticed over time that the direct financing of photographers work is not necessarily the most significant way to support a career. For this reason, we also offer other very relevant opportunities to improve your CV and personal experience. There is, for example, a solo exhibition at 2020 Fotografia Europea - a very important photography festival in Reggio Emilia (Italy) started in 2007 - that also includes travel and accommodation during the opening weekend. There are three remote 60-minute portfolio reviews from the PHmuseum Education program with a mentor of your choice, including colleagues who work for organisations such as The Washington Post. All the finalists (up to 35 photographers) will be showcased at Photo Vogue Festival in Milan (Italy) over the four days of the festival (14-17 November) at BASE, the main exhibition venue. The winner of the New Generation Prize will be nominated for World Press Photo's 2020 Joop Swart Masterclass, a week-long intensive program that identifies, supports and educates new talent in the field of documentary photography, visual journalism, and visual storytelling. Long story short, a wide and complete range of initiatives to support your work and formation, with more than 40 applicants who will benefit from them.

© Sabiha Çimen, 3rd prize winner 2018 Women Photographers Grant

V. LEARN AND BE SELF-CRITICAL / Applying represents an effective way to follow the grant from the beginning to the end, review the shortlisted and awarded projects, read the judges motivations. It's a good occasion to stimulate yourself, get inspiration and learn from other applicants' projects. It's a good occasion to be self-critical with your work, improve it and improve as a photographer.

VI. ENTER OUR NETWORK / PHmuseum is an international hub where many photo editors, curators, and gallerists land every week to discover new projects and talents. At the moment of writing new articles, featuring new work, and sharing it, we always have in mind the latest call's entries. This grant is indeed a great initiative for us to discover new projects and recommend them to those colleagues who might, for example, be searching for photographers with certain characteristics for an assignment; or for works on certain subjects to be published in magazines or showcased at a festival. Over the years we have seen many photographers benefiting from these "collateral" opportunities.

VII. VALIDATION / This year's jury comprises Marina Paulenka, the Artistic Director of UNSEEN a platform and fair that every gathers together many great contemporary photographers in Amsterdam; Ashleigh Kane, the Arts & Culture Editor At Dazed, an alternative style and culture magazine launched back in 1991 that today boasts 1.4 million followers on Instagram ; Maggie Steber a recognised photographer whose honours include Pulitzer Prize Finalist 2019, Lucie Award 2019, Leica Medal of Excellence, and World Press Photo's; and Angelica Dass, an award-winning photographer whose TED Talk exceeded two million views.. Being awarded a prize by such a distinguished panel, who have many years of experience combined, will represent a strong recognition of your work. Many colleagues will give it the proper attention, and it will also be great motivation to move forward with your personal photographic vision.

VIII. RELIABILITY / There are many awards and opportunities out there, yet how many are serious and meaningful for your career? We've organised grants since 2013 and have built a strong reputation year after year, thanks to several key factors: the judges with whom we've collaborated, including Kathy Ryan, Martin Parr, Sarah Leen, and Roger Ballen; the organisations and festivals we have partnered with, among which are World Press Photo, Cortona On The Move, and Vogue Italia; the photographers who applied and were winners in the previous editions such as Diana Markosian, Max Pinckers, Poulomi Basu, Tomas van Houtryve, and Jacob Aue Sobol; and the curatorship that characterises our platform. It's an overall track record that showcases the quality and reliability of our initiative.

IX. SUPPORT PHMUSEUM / We are an independent organisation that has been growing organically year after year, mostly thanks to those photographers who have trusted our grant and education programs. We reinvest around 85% of the entry fees in prizes, and the development of our team and platform. When you apply, you participate in the improvement of our free services, such as the News articles, the Stories archive, and the online Exhibitions, all while granting us the opportunity to self-finance ourselves without turning to sponsors or investors. Something very important to preserve the integrity and independence of our voice.

© Iggy Smalls, shortlisted photographer 2018 Women Photographers Grant

In an interview we made a few years ago, Brazilian photographer, curator and cultural producer Iatã Cannabrava told us: “There is this false myth that the artists should not be their own managers, that the world has to discover you and help you out. Well, I have reached the conclusion that photoshop is as important as excel: getting organised is as important as being creative.” We totally agree with him. Have a clear project development plan in mind, and save 5% of your annual budget to apply for grants and awards. Don’t wait to be discovered, take action to place your photography on the map. There is still time until 10 October to apply at phmuseum.com/grant.

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