In a first-of-its-kind grant, Getty Images and Instagram have partnered to create the Getty Images Instagram grant that helps photographers continue to document stories focused on underrepresented communities. What distinguishes this grant so uniquely is that it acknowledges the incredible weight and presence of visual communication that a platform like Instagram has had in the past several years.
Photographers Ismail Ferdous of Bangladesh, Adriana Zehbrauska of Brazil (currently working in Mexico), and Dmitry Markov of Russia were chosen as the three winners for the inaugural grant, each selected from over 1,200 entries, and each receiving $10,000 plus a one-year mentorship with an award-winning Getty Images’s photojournalist. The winning photos will be on display at this year’s Photoville, the largest annual photographic festival in New York City, which opens Thursday and runs through Sept. 20, 2015.
“Our three recipients could not better exemplify the original aim of this grant: to document and share stories of underrepresented communities that otherwise rarely come into focus,” Getty Images’s Senior Director of Content Partnerships Elodie Maillet Storm said in a news release. “We are honored to award these grants and hope they will encourage talent to continue to tell important stories through new platforms.”
Five additional photographers were also recognized for their work, and will each receive a personal mentorship from a member of the Getty Instagram Grant judging panel.
Ferdous received a grant for his project titled ‘After Rana Plaza’, which centers on the surviving relatives of those killed in the tragic 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory.
On how he hopes the award impacts the lives of those in his series Ferdous told In Sight:
“I have to be honest here, with respect to photojournalism, we are no longer living in a time where a photograph is going to stop a war, and the world is more complex now, politically speaking. But I still strongly believe that photographs can have big impacts on people since photography is a language that everyone can read and has a power to educate people and create awareness about issues. I think this is the right time in photojournalism to build awareness through social networks like Instagram because it reaches audiences in high volumes and brings issues into people’s back pocket. Eventually that awareness might create a push to change about an important issue which is not the headline of newspaper.”
Adriana Zehbrauskas of Brazil, currently based in Mexico, was awarded for her Instagram portfolio, and plans to use the grant to fund her project “Next of Kin: Family Matters”, a series of portraits of families of the 43 students who went missing from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers School in Guerrero, Mexico last year.
On winning the award Zehbruakas said:
“It felt incredibly overwhelming to win. I think that apart from the financial aspect, this grant serves to make me more confident about telling the stories I feel that are important but that won’t necessarily find a place in the traditional media outlets. It opens up a new avenue of communication and partnership. Regarding this specific project, I’m aiming to give back something immediate, something they can hold on to: a memory.”
Dmitry (Dima) Markov lives in Pskov, Russia, works with disabled children, and volunteers for organizations providing support services to orphans. Markov’s work features an array of portraits and scenes depicting railways stations, street markets, and everyday life in Russia.
“I think social media has great potential in Russia today. I can bring people’s attention to important stories simply by posting a few shots on social networks. Recently — with a friend of mine — we organized a sports competition in a juvenile prison located in the Pskov Region. The Governor of the Region, who was monitoring my Instagram stream the whole month through, came over during a training session. That attention helped bring the training to a systemic level: now there is a club with a coach in that prison. So Instagram for me isn’t just about the likes – it is a tool in my social work.”