This year’s Women Photograph project grants have been announced. Five photographers have been awarded the $5,000 Women Photograph + Nikon Grants, and one is taking home the $10,000 Women Photograph + Getty Images Scholarship. Judges sifted through nearly 1,300 applicants from female and non-binary photographers around the world.
The Women Photograph + Nikon Grants were awarded by a panel of judges that included Gael Almeida of the National Geographic Society, independent photographer Jess Dugan, independent photographer Yagazie Emezi, Emily Jan of the Atlantic and Olivier Laurent from The Washington Post. And the Women Photograph + Getty Images Scholarship was awarded by the following judges: Sandy Ciric of Getty Images, Sara Ickow of Women Photograph, Zahra Rasool of AJ Contrast and independent photographers Haruka Sakaguchi and Elias Williams.
Women Photograph was launched in 2017 in an effort to elevate the voices of female and non-binary visual journalists in an industry that, from its inception, has been male-dominated. Today, that mission is more important than ever. In addition to the yearly grants, Women Photograph also maintains a large database of photographers whom photo editors can contact for assignments. But the group does much more. You can find out about its mission on its website.
Now, let’s take a look at this year’s grantees.
The photograph at the top of this article is from the Women Photograph + Getty Images Scholarship. This year, that distinction went to Tami Aftab of the United Kingdom. The project documents Aftab’s father’s struggle with hydrocephalus, which causes a buildup of fluid deep within the brain. Here’s what Aftab said about the project:
“About 25 years ago, he went in for an operation to put a hole in his head that would allow the liquid to drain easier. However, during that operation, his short-term memory was accidentally damaged, permanently leaving him with a unique difficulty with short-term memory. I began working on this story in 2018, as an interview project through videoing conversations between Dad and our family, capturing how his short-term memory affects his daily life. These became the foundation and primary research of this project, as it led me to realise the importance in the humour projected from my Dad, his charm and strong spirit despite illness. Therefore, I decided to restart this project as a photographic collaboration, with lightness at its core. We use a playful tone through visualising memories and notions of familial care. The project discusses a father-daughter relationship, intimacy, and how one family deals with illness.”
You can see more of Aftab’s work here.
The following are the five winners of the Women Photograph + Nikon Grants, in no particular order.
Puerto Rican photographer Gabriella Báez’s project focuses on the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, but in an incredibly personal way. Here’s what Báez said about the project:
“In the year following Hurricane María, approximately 279 suicides were recorded. On July 11, 2018, just two months before the first anniversary of the hurricane, my father committed suicide. Later that year, after receiving the objects he left behind, I photographed each of them and began looking for vestiges of him around Puerto Rico. ‘Ojalá nos encontremos en el mar’ is a photographic documentation of the psychological undercurrents of trauma that provoke suicides in the aftermath of Hurricane María. It looks closely at the challenging emotions of grieving in ravaged, altered, sometimes unrecognizable environments, and the role of crisis in mourning. The project explores these manifestations of trauma in the landscape and through intimacy in interpersonal relationships.”
You can see more of Báez’s work here.
Photographer Sahar Coston-Hardy’s project, “The Spaces in Between,” was inspired by the “Green Book.” According to Women Photograph:
“Sahar will follow the itinerary of Alberta Northcutt-Ellis — a savvy Black businesswoman who advertised in the Green Book and built a network of businesses that supported her family — and document the family’s descendants and the remnants of their businesses. Along with collaborator Jennifer Reut, Sahar will build a multimedia map to allow others to trace the same journey, revealing the landscape the Northcutt-Ellises created for themselves and others during Jim Crow.”
You can see more of Coston-Hardy’s work here.
The next grantee is photographer Peyton Fulford of Georgia.
Fulford’s project uses narrative portraiture to document queerness in the American South. Fulford’s work is inspired by growing up queer and in a religious family in Georgia.
Here’s more from Fulford about the project:
“As a result of the strict beliefs I had been taught since birth, I did not feel comfortable coming out as queer until I was 21 years old. … As I came to terms with my own identity, the photo series ‘Infinite Tenderness’ came to fruition. In 2016, I began exploring the notion of intimacy and identity among the LGBTQ+ community in the American South. … Through this ongoing project, I am documenting the exploration of one’s body, sexuality and gender that comes along with growing up and identifying oneself. … My intention is to empower others and create an accepting space for queer kids that grow up in small towns and rural areas.”
You can see more of Fulford’s work here.
Up next is photographer Roopa Gogineni, who’s from Kenya and France. Gogineni says the project, “Let the Record Show,” is “a photographic investigation into the ways histories are created, or erased, in the American South.”
Here’s a more in-depth description of the project, from Women Photograph:
“Most of what is documented in this project is not available online, as many of the historians guiding this work acquired and pass on information in the oral tradition, and because much of the relevant archival material has not been digitized. The systems of knowledge and power in our society today are indelibly linked to slavery, and it remains necessary to interrogate this past and how we remember it. In digital form, the catalogue will live on a website, where Roopa will invite others to submit images and histories of unmarked sites. She will also print low-cost photo books to serve as a tool for teaching antebellum history and historiography.”
You can see more of Gogineni’s work here.
Last up is a project from photographer Sandra Mehl of France. Mehl’s project focuses on the relationship between Ilona and Maddelena, two sisters living in a working-class area of France. Mehl tells us more about the project:
“ ’Ilona and Maddelena’ tells about what it means to be a girl and a teenager in an underprivileged environment, in a developed country like France. It’s also the story of my neighbours, since I live across the street from her, and in a way, it’s the story of my life. The first time I met them, I knew that I would follow them and not others: Immersed in my past, I remember myself at their age.”
You can see more of Mehl’s work here.
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