04 February 2020
04 February 2020 - Written by PHmuseum
PHmuseum 2019 Photography Grant awardees Nikita Teryoshin, Yangkun Shi, Fernando Montiel Klint, and Liza Ambrossio talk to us about the importance of the recognition and the opportunities that opened up for them as a result.
© Fernando Montiel Klint, from the series Dystopia. PHmuseum 2019 Photography Grant 3rd Prize winner
Almost 8 years after its first edition and with the widest offering of prizes in its relatively short history, the PHmuseum Photography Grant has built a strong reputation and it can be considered one of those career-changing events for a photographer. So what did it really mean for last year's awarded photographers and what happened in their first year after the recognition?
Russian photographer and 1st Prize winner Nikita Teryoshin stresses the importance of motivations, recognition, and visibility. "I applied on the last day directly from Abu Dhabi which was one of the stations of my Nothing Personal project" he says. "Usually, I don’t participate in photo contests that often, but here I had not only the feeling that it fit, but I also liked the idea of the Grant, because it directly helps you with the realisation of your project. It was amazing to see the great interest in the topic of my project and this motivated me to keep on working on my series."
All of this can mean even more when you are younger as the recognition can serve as a timely boost for your career. Yangkun Shi, the 28 year-old Chinese photographer who won the 2nd Prize, admits that "standing at the beginning point of my career it was such an encouragement. Since then I received many interview requests, exposure, and exhibition proposals for my project Retrotopia." He also recalls how all those opportunities "helped him to be more confident to pursue a professional career as a photographer". This was similar to Mexican photographer Liza Ambrossio's experience after winning the New Generation Prize with The Rage Of Devotion: "The recognition was a blow of oxygen to continue doing my work in the same sea. It was a summary of much enthusiasm and a lot of work, it gave me more responsibility than illusions.”
© Liza Ambrossio, from The Rage Of Devotion. PHmuseum 2019 Photography Grant New Generation Prize winner
So how you should prepare yourself before submitting your project? If you are considering applying, listen carefully to some of the advice previous winners shared with us. For Liza Ambrossio is quite straight forward: “work, work and work! Study your own images carefully, choose the project that exudes most of your emotions, work on the edit and only then submit it”. Good images should be supported by meaningful words, an here's where the importance of text lies according to Yangkun Shi: “the project description is a key part to explain the information that sometimes photographs cannot provide”. Yet most importantly he adds that "finding things that you really care about is more relevant than shooting amazing pictures”. On the same page Nikita Teryoshin, who supports this thesis suggesting that you should only “work on topics you are really interested in. Trust your work and give it the right time”.
Winning is never easy, and certainly, it comes as the union between dedication to your own work and a touch of luck, but if you are brave enough to earn your own fate several can be the positive influences on your photographic life. Mexican photographer Fernando Montiel Klint, the 3rd prize winner, is acknowledging how the recognition came in a very important moment of his career, after 3 years he started his series Dystopia. Winning the prize gave him “the possibility of having incredible visibility to places never before imagined, with the opportunity to reach a new audience. I was very happy with this award for the evolution that the work has had. It obtained reviews in magazines such as Wired and it has been a very positive year for exhibitions too. The project has grown towards new paths after the award”. While Nikita Teryoshin enjoyed “a sabbatical four-months away from editorial jobs to travel to Russia, Peru, Vietnam and the US and take really important pictures”. Moreover, the grant has also helped him to “produce a new series, which also was a huge step for my development”.
© Yangkun Shi, from Retrotopia. PHmuseum 2019 Photography Grant 2nd Prize winner
Applying to a Grant like ours is never only about winning, and positive dynamics can happen just by taking part.“It can be also a learning process - agrees Yangkun Shi - when witnessing other colleagues’ work and judges’ choices”. Fernando Montiel Klint adds "Believe in your project and do not lose the chance to enter, you will be able to see very diverse photographers and be able to enrich your photographic imaginary."
If that's not enough you should also know that in 2019 only we featured almost 500 photographers of 46 different nationalities among PHmuseum and its social media channels, most of which were discovered through our Grants. "Like the legendary german punk band "Bluttat“ would say - comments Nikita Teryoshin - punk means support, not competition!"
So if you have a work that you feel close to, it might be the right time to work on it and apply at phmuseum.com/g20. There is time until 20 February and a lot to earn in terms of knowledge, experience and all the things that the grant brought to Liza, Fernando, Yangkun, and Nikita over the past year.
© Nikita Teryoshin, from Nothing Personal. PHmuseum 2019 Photography Grant 1st Prize winner
Aimed at supporting visual storytellers, the PHmuseum 2020 Photography Grant offers $16,000 in cash prizes, a solo show at PhEST, a solo show at Getxophoto, a solo show at the PHmuseum Lab, features on World Press Photo's Witness, opportunities from PHmuseum Education Program, and much more.