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The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University and The Honickman Foundation (THF), based in Philadelphia, co-sponsor this prestigious biennial prize for American photographers. The only prize of its kind, the CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography competition is open to American and Canadian photographers of any age who have never published a book-length work and who use their cameras for creative exploration, whether it be of places, people, or communities; of the natural or social world; of beauty at large or the lack of it; of objective or subjective realities. The prize honors work that is visually compelling, that bears witness, and that has integrity of purpose.
Winners of the CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography receive a grant of $3,000, publication of a book of photography, and inclusion in a website devoted to presenting the work of the prizewinners. The winner will also be given a solo exhibit at the Center for Documentary Studies and the photographs will then be placed in the Archive of Documentary Arts in Duke University’s Rubenstein Library.
Congratulations to Gerard H. Gaskin, who was selected by Deborah Willis to win the 2012 prize. Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene will be published in November 2013 by CDS Books and Duke University Press.
The finalists for the 2012 CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography were Thomas Alleman, Paula Bronstein, Pedro Farias-Nardi, Michael Forster Rothbart, Eros Hoagland, Jon Lowenstein, Hiroko Okahashi, Carlos Javier Ortiz, Stan Raucher, Bryan Schutmaat, Jeffrey Stockbridge, and Robert Yager.
The Center for Documentary Studies and the Honickman Foundation are proud to launch this website featuring the winners of CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography. Lynne Honickman of the Honickman Foundation and CDS’s Tom Rankin and Alexa Dilworth talk about the prize, the importance of a photographer’s first book, and the new website.
“What is so gratifying about this collaborative prize, to me, is that every single entrant’s work is seen and carefully evaluated by a screening panel who represent the ‘best’ of the photographic universe: And because it is ‘seen,’ whether win, lose, or draw, that work is often moved forward. This journey has a great rippling effect.”
The judges for the prize are among the most significant and innovative artists, curators, and writers in contemporary photography—Robert Adams, Maria Morris Hambourg, Robert Frank, Mary Ellen Mark, William Eggleston, and Deborah Willis.
Over the years the guest panelists on the prize selection committees have also been among the most esteemed members of the photographic community. We extend our deepest gratitude to Bill Burke, Stacey D. Clarkson, Jim Dow, Taj Forer, John McWilliams, William Noland, Pamela Pecchio, and Hank Willis Thomas.
“Most photographers want to publish a book, especially if well produced. The CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography allows this to happen for one deserving artist, and at the same time helps all entrants by encouraging them to assemble and evaluate for themselves the best they’ve done (it’s the only judgment that will sustain them in the long run). Whoever receives the prize, everyone is brought a little closer to finding her or his assignment, whether in photography or some other way of caring.”
“I like what this prize is doing. I want to be a part of it.”
“The power of the photographic book as a vehicle for the dissemination of subtly inflected ideas—of poetic visions that may be subversive, confounding, or even tragic—has only increased as electronic media have flourished, for the carefully composed and printed book is a form of permanence. If the book is good, it is an eloquent unit of cogency in the sea of randomness, a rock that survives the tides that erase the days. The purpose of the CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography is to make such books by bringing to light singular bodies of work by largely unknown photographers. Working outside the mainstreams of power and influence, these artists have important things to convey that would be unlikely to be seen or heard except through this inspired publication program. As society generally does not reward those who are more committed to their vision than to its promotion, the First Book Prize is invaluable: it is an open door for genius to come through.”
—Maria Morris Hambourg
“There are so many excellent artists that have not had the opportunity to publish their work. What is so special about the CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography is that the work of the winning photographer is not just published, but published, designed, and produced beautifully. Another great aspect of this prize is that it pushes all of the applicants (not only the winner) to carefully evaluate and edit their work for presentation.
These days it is more difficult than ever for photographers to get their best work published. There are so many levels of bureaucracy and outside influences that one must normally deal with. The artist that receives this award is able to cut through all of that and publish their work in its true form. They don’t need to worry about not being commercial or trendy.
The brilliance of this award is that it is not only a great opportunity for the photographer who wins, but also a chance for all of us to enrich our lives by seeing new and powerful work. The CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography allows a gifted photographer to realize his or her dream—and that is wonderful.”
—Mary Ellen Mark
“I am honored to have been invited by the Center for Documentary Studies and the Honickman Foundation to judge the CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography. This is a unique award and opportunity to observe and create new narratives. I respect the idea of the book and often re-read the photography books on my shelf. This award offers photographers a new way to share their work, their singular way of seeing, and encourages me to imagine what will follow. There is an absence of new voices in photography books; all of us need this prize to expand our experiences in looking and understanding.”
Editor: Alexa Dilworth
Designers: Christopher Sims, Maggie Smith
Multimedia editor: Maggie Smith
Additional design, editing, and production: Whitney Baker, Matthew Fowler, Jim Haverkamp, Joel Mora, Sharon Pomranky