17 January 2023
17 January 2023 - Written by PhMuseum
What does it mean to be awarded our photography grant? The 2022 awardees Miraj Patel, Weronika Gesicka, Maggie Shannon and Delali Ayivi tell us how it supported their careers, and share some tips for this year’s applicants.
Dear Miraj, Weronika, Maggie and Delali, can you talk about what being a recipient of the PhMuseum 2022 Photography Grant meant for you, personally and professionally?
Miraj: Winning the PhMuseum Grant was an honour. It also led me to other opportunities to show my work and to get new eyes on it. From a personal point of view, it showed me that people are interested in what I do and gave me the confidence to continue doing it.
Weronika: The award came at an important time for me, because I submitted a new series to the competition that had mostly not yet been shown to a wider audience. For me it is always an important moment when something I have been working on for a long time comes out of my safe, even intimate space and into the light. I was even happier to be appreciated by the jury.
Maggie: It was incredibly special for me to win the third prize. As photographers, we sometimes feel like we work in a bubble. It can be lonely and difficult to know if you are on the right track with your practice. Being recognised and awarded by the jury for my work was validating and gave me new confidence in my work, both personally and professionally.
Delali: Winning the New Generation prize for photographers under 30 was first and foremost a great encouragement and confirmation that I am on the right track. From a professional point of view, the financial reward is helping me to reinvest in my craft and my collaborators. Emerging creatives often work with little encouragement and even less financial reward. This means that one often wonders whether one's work can be sustained in the long term. That is why confirmation from industry experts, exposure and financial reward are of great importance.
How did the PhMuseum Grant support you in that specific moment of your career, and how has been your professional year since then?
Miraj: It allowed me to alleviate the cost of the Master's Degree I'm currently pursuing, which in turn gave me the time to focus on making new work.
Weronika: This year I primarily worked on the start of a new project for which I had been preparing for a long time, and which was preceded by a long research. In this context, the financial aspect of the grant was important to me - the amount that I received was very useful during these last months of work.
Maggie: Receiving the grant connected me with a photo director who greatly admired and supported my project. Now we’re working together on a long-term project for her publication. It’s a dream assignment and I don’t think this would have been possible without your grant!
Delali: The recognition has had a great impact! This has been the first year I have been able to work as a full-time photographer.
For which reasons should photographers apply for the PhMuseum Grant?
Miraj: The award is a great way to get feedback on your work. The judges are all experts on the various uses of the medium. Also the community around the award is excellent. Applying for awards allows one to have a deadline and stand behind what they made, which is what I find to be the biggest gift.
Weronika: Each competition is an opportunity to show your work to specialists and the public, and confronting your work with the audience is an inseparable part of the practice of each artist.
Maggie: Even putting together an application for something like this is an accomplishment! Writing an artist statement and editing down images from a project is a huge and important process, but so special once you’ve completed it. This work can make you think about the project in a whole new way. When I’m working on an application I try to reach out to folks I admire for feedback. Those conversations can be so valuable as well. It’s also not always about winning the awards but getting your work in front of the jurors’ eyes. This can be just as valuable down the road.
Delali: Applying for grants and awards is a fantastic practice to present and narrate your work. It is a separate skill from producing work. So I encourage photographers to apply for awards regularly. The award allowed my work to be present in spaces I would usually not have access to, which has been a fantastic opportunity. It is also an opportunity to present and strengthen the concepts around your work. If successful it will help you receive feedback from industry professionals, gain valuable exposure in the art world and reinvest financially into your craft and creative community through collaboration.
What advice - both practical and more in general - would you give to those photographers applying for the PhMuseum 2023 Photography Grant?
Miraj: Practically, I would say that the grant is an excellent way to give yourself a deadline. Use it as a means to move your work along and consider any blessings along the way as the real prize. Submit the work that feels most honest to you!
Weronika: I think that the best advice is to listen to as many other people’s advice as possible, while filtering them with your sensitivity and intuitively choosing those that best match our creativity.
Maggie: Get feedback from friends and folks you admire on your sequence. Don’t give up if you don’t win this year, just keep shifting and moving your edit around and keep applying! This was my second year applying with my project Extreme Pain, But Also Extreme Joy. I continued to photograph for the project and updated my artist statement. This process is still continuing today.
Delali: My advice is to create a concise collection of work with a strong narrative. I think it’s great to present work that has potential for growth and expansion, so the judges will know how you can benefit from financial and artistic growth.
The PhMuseum Photography Grant has established itself as a leading prize in the industry over the past ten years, renowned for celebrating the importance of contemporary photography and supporting the careers of emerging artists through monetary prizes and various opportunities across international festivals and online media. You are welcome to present your work before the deadline which is set for 16 February, while there is a reduced entry fee option until 26 January. Learn how and apply at phmuseum.com/g23. Good luck!
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