Last Year's Awardees Talk about the PHmuseum Photography Grant
How could our Grant impact your career? Photographers Poulomi Basu, Paolo Ciregia, Igor Pisuk and Panos Kefalos share their thoughts, experiences, and advice one year after having received the main prizes.
Winning a grant often requires effort, continuity, and a bit of luck. It can happen after years of work or relatively quickly, representing a great boost for your career. So, what did the winners of the PHmuseum 2018 Photography Grant feel when their work was recognised and how have their careers evolved since then?
"Since winning the grant, I was invited to join BBC's The Conversation - War Through A Woman’s Lens - alongside the legendary Lynsey Addario - as one of the two most significant female war photographers living today" says 1st Prize winner Poulomi Basu. "The program had 75 million viewers. My work was also featured in 1000 Words Magazine and exhibited during Getxo Photo Festival in Bilbao, Spain". Her winning series, Centralia, was at the time unpublished, as Poulomi explains: "Your Grant was the first place I had ever shown this project, so the award represented a tremendous validation of the project from a cohort of expert judges. Something that became instrumental in pushing the work further."
A very different approach to photography granted Paolo Ciregia's Perestrojka the 2nd Prize, a project which can be seen as a criticism of the reportage genre. Paolo felt very moved, describing that: "having won a photography prize with a project that sanctioned the end of my experience as a photojournalist empowers this recognition with great personal meaning". For Igor Pisuk, the 3rd Prize winner with Deceitful Reverence, such an endorsement can act as acceptance; evidence that you need not deviate from your chosen path: "the Grant provided me with the courage to further develop and pursue my vision in the most honest way without accepting any compromises" he says.
If validation is a very relevant aspect on a psychological level, then the £15,000 in cash prizes can offer a practical way to develop further. "The sum received with the prize has been supporting the production of my new ongoing project", affirms Panos Kefalos, the New Generation Prize winner with Saints. Igor instead invested his monetary prize in finalising his long-term project that was "finally published as a photobook, called Deceitful Reverence, and released in November 2018". Poulomi echoes the sentiments, remarking: "after the work has gained tremendous momentum I've found myself a book publisher who will be publishing the work in 2019".
Educational opportunities are another aspect that we are currently developing, in large part thanks to the positive experiences that the former New Generation Prize winners have had with our mentorship program. Last year, Panos was mentored by acclaimed educator and photographer, Maggie Steber. "In various ways, the fact that we had an open discussion on the project’s development, kept me active and gave me, even more so, the strength to work and continue with my new project" he says. This year for the first time, the winner of this prize - aimed solely at photographers under 30 - will receive a four-hour consultancy with a tutor of his/her choice amongst those in our Educational team. Moreover, an additional four photographers will win a one-to-one 60-minute portfolio review with a mentor of their choice, and another applicant will win a workshop at Cortona On The Move during the festival's opening weekend.
Before even thinking about any prizes, though, how should you best play your cards? Here's some genuine guidance from Poulomi: "my advice to other photographers would be to apply with a body of work that is personal. You should try to be innovative and take risks." Paolo is also on the same page, adding "you shall not have the fear to put yourself out. Try not to be conditioned by the more conventional photographic superstructure". The same advice comes from Igor, who recommends to "be honest with yourself, send your best work and don't be afraid to escape from your comfort zone." Panos instead shares some valuable practical advice: "photographers need to work and focus on the sequence, on the edit and on a well-structured text. The selection of the images and the body of work is of course what always matters but the presentation is also a very important aspect that shouldn't be taken for granted."
If you are considering applying, remember these precious pieces of advice. Then take your time editing your project, curating all the details, and once you feel ready, click submit. You have time until 31 January to take advantage of the Early Bird deadline, while the final deadline is set for 21 February. To learn more and apply visit phmuseum.com/grant... and good luck!
Aimed at supporting visual storytellers, this 7th edition will offer £15,000 in cash prizes, a solo show at PhEST, a workshop at Cortona On The Move, features on World Press Photo's Witness, opportunities from our Education Program, and much more.