25 January 2017

Advice from the PHM 2017 Grant Judges

25 January 2017 - Written by PhMuseum

As the PHmuseum 2017 Grant deadline is approaching on 15 February, we asked the judges what they will value in the applications. In choosing the grant winners, we depend on their expertise, vision and collaborative effort. 

© Max Pinckers, from the series Will They Sing Like Raindrops Or Leave me Thirsty (PHM 2014 Grant 1st prize winner)

The PHM 2017 Grant has two different panels of judges - Main Prize and New Generation Prize - that bring together professionals from the photography industry, with different cultural and professional backgrounds. We believe that knowing who will review your submission and what will be valued by them in a visual project can help applications in the process. It’s like preparing yourself for a portfolio review, where doing some background research into the person who will sit in front of you on the table, is most of the time worth the effort.

So, to give you a hand, we asked the judges what they will be looking for in the applications, what they value in visual projects. From their answers four main aspects stand out.  

First of all, a clear and strong narrative. As Fiona Rogers (Global Business Development Manager at Magnum Photos International) says: “I'm looking for photographers who show promise, a clear sense of understanding visual narrative, and can execute their ideas to a high standard.” In the same line, Kate Bubacz (Senior Photo Editor for BuzzFeed News) affirms: "Photography is a powerful medium to convey the poetry of the human experience, a beautiful photo is something universally readable, recognizable.  I am looking for young photographers who not only can see the world for what it is, but also have the vision to convey what it could be using their images."

Secondly, projects with an original, new and visually strong execution or approach are likely to stand out. Alejandro Chaskielberg (photographer) tells us: “I am interested first and foremost in projects that explore new ways of storytelling. I will be looking for challenging works that will pair up powerful stories told with intense imagery. I will analyze the applications taking into account three main aspects: the creative process carried out by the photographer, the visuality of the imagery and the power of the story”. Emma Bowkett (Director of Photography at the Financial Times FT Weekend Magazine) will be looking for “a strong visual language”. Also, Alejandro Kirchuk (Visual Journalist & Senior Photo Editor at PHmuseum), will look for “a fresh approach on daily issues”. He also adds: “Strong visuals and an interesting narrative structure will definitely catch my attention as a member of this jury."

© Yael Martinez, from the series La Casa Que Sangra (PHM 2016 Grant 2nd prize winner)

Next to a strong narrative and an original approach, thirdly, a clear conceptual structure and an emotional value draw attention. "I will be looking forward to seeing the works that will ignite conversations and inspire new thoughts", says Ihiro Hayami (Director of Tokyo Institute of Photography). While Sarah Leen (Director of Photography National Geographic Magazine and Partners) comments: "I am hoping to see images that move me both emotionally and intellectually. I value storytelling photography that has a point of view and communicates as well as delights visually."

Finally, Poulomi Basu (Photographer and Director of Just Another Photo Festival) adds a fourth element that she finds important. She says: "I will be looking for works that deepens the photographer’s level of engagement to the story they want to tell. I am open to a more experimental approach with a story telling narrative and one that has the potential eventually to be free of constraints of any medium. Works with vision that pushes the viewer into an extraordinary space, way past the threshold of the imagination and into even fiction, if need be, something pulsating."

When choosing what project to submit to the grant, consider taking these words of advice into account, be self-critical and get some tips from people you trust. 

We are looking forward to receiving your submission and together celebrate the importance of visual storytelling. Learn more and apply at

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