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“We find ourselves at a moment when photo books are as important as ever, because they are concrete statements of artistic vision, essential counterweights in the ‘Ocean of Images’ that we swim through every day.”—Peter Barberie, judge, 2016 CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography

Lauren Pond has won the 2016 CDS/Honickman First Book Prize selected by Peter Barberie, the Brodsky Curator of Photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, for her project Test of Faith.

LaurenPond.Headshot
Photograph by Michael Bou-Nacklie


The finalists for the prize, whose work will be featured on the First Book Prize in Photography blog in the coming weeks, were Cody Bratt, Jamie Diamond, Joshua Dudley Greer, Gloriann Liu, Janet Pritchard, Andy Richter, Aaron Vincent Elkaim, and Keith Yahrling.

The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University and The Honickman Foundation (THF), based in Philadelphia, co-sponsor this prestigious biennial prize. The only prize of its kind, the CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography competition is open to North American 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 also receives a solo exhibit and the photographs are then placed in the Archive of Documentary Arts in Duke University’s Rubenstein Library.

The judges for the prize are among the most significant and innovative artists, curators, and writers in contemporary photography—Robert Adams, Peter Barberie, William Eggleston, Robert Frank, Maria Morris Hambourg, Mary Ellen Mark, Sandra S. Phillips, and Deborah Willis.

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“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.”
Robert Adams

“We find ourselves at a moment when photo books are as important as ever, because they are concrete statements of artistic vision, essential counterweights in the ‘Ocean of Images’ that we swim through every day. DIY photo books are one important expression of this need for paper and glue and composed ideas. The CDS/Honickman First Book Prize is another, and it is immensely valuable. It offers a serious platform for serious work by photographers who have not yet received the notice they deserve. I’m pleased and excited to be involved with the 2016 competition.”
—Peter Barberie

“I like what this prize is doing. I want to be a part of it.”
Robert Frank

“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 very pleased, and honored, to participate in the First Book Prize competition. A photographer’s first book is an amazingly potent object. Today we are very casual about pictures: we see too many of them, in a way they have replaced words as our most significant form of communication. We see photographs in our cellphones, on the web; we see fewer of them in books, printed the old-fashioned way, on paper. The technology of the book is ancient and still has advantages—we can re-see the pictures at will, we can pick up the book and sit comfortably with it, we can read it in a certain order, we can contemplate what an author has written of the pictures—that contribute to the reverberant meaning of the pictures. Picture books, books of photographs, are not being lost to the digital revolution; if anything they have become only more meaningful, more treasured.”
—Sandra S. Phillips

“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.”
—Deborah Willis

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