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American and Canadian photographers who pursue work of creative or social importance have too few opportunities for support and recognition. This is especially true when photographers are engaged in personal or in-depth projects that do not have direct commercial appeal. While there are other sources for grants and fellowships in photography, the chance to see a body of work in print, as a coherent book-length work, is rare. Concerned about this problem and recognizing their shared interests, the Honickman Foundation and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University came together to create this important biennial book-publication prize.
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.
The submission period for the 2012 CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography is closed. The entry period for the next competition will be from June to September 2014. The guidelines will be posted in fall 2013.
Deborah Willis was the judge of the sixth biennial CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography competition. She chose Gerard H. Gaskin to win the 2012 prize. Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene will be published in November 2013 by CDS Books and Duke University Press.
Deborah Willis, a 2005 Guggenheim Fellow and Fletcher Fellow and a 2000 MacArthur Fellow, has received an Infinity Award in Writing from the International Center for Photography and was recently named among the “100 Most Important People in Photography” by American Photography magazine. She is chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.
We were thrilled with the entries we received in 2012. For those of you who have applied for the prize in the past, please don’t hesitate to resubmit your work in 2014. Jennette Williams, who won in 2008, was a finalist in 2002; she resubmitted her portfolio after continuing work on The Bathers.
A strong, serious community of photographers, editors, curators, and publishers review your work.
Over the years, guest judges on the award’s selection committee have been among the most esteemed members of the photographic community, Bill Burke, Stacey D. Clarkson, Jim Dow, John McWilliams, William Noland, Pamela Pecchio, and Hank Willis Thomas.
This year’s guest judge on the selection panel was Taj Forer, photographer and cofounder of Daylight. Forer is the author of two books of photography, Stone by Stone (Kehrer Verlag, 2011) and Threefold Sun (Charta Editions, 2007).
Guidelines for the 2014 competition will be posted in fall 2013.
What are the Panel Judge and other members of the screening panel of the CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography looking for in a successful submission, one that is strong enough to be presented to the Prize Judge as a finalist?
The panel considers still images made from all photographic processes, both traditional and digital. The judging is based only on submitted images, which should be carefully selected to demonstrate the photographer’s ability to build a strong, coherent body of work with the potential for publication as a book. Before sending in your materials, please review your photographs and their sequence to be sure that you’ve submitted the best representation of your larger work.
The First Book Prize in Photography isn’t meant to be a competition about the merit of a photographer’s images alone; it’s about the relationship pictures have to each other in a way quite different from the construction of a photo essay. The focus is on the breadth and nuance of the body of photographs as an extended narrative and meditation. (The editor, collaborating closely with the photographer, starts with at least twice, oftentimes three to four times, the number of images that will appear in the printed book.)
The competition’s review and selection process is geared toward fairness, with an eye to giving photographers the chance to have their work seen as many times as possible. An entry is reviewed again (and again) if even only one panelist would like to keep it under consideration. The result is a selection of the best potential book projects.
Are there restrictions on who can apply?
The prize is open to American and Canadian citizens (and residents of the U.S. and Canada for at least fifteen years) of any age, who have yet to publish a book-length work—a publication that focuses solely on the photographer’s work, contains more than forty of the photographer’s images, and is sold through conventional book distribution channels. (A photographer’s inclusion in an anthology or group catalog does not affect eligibility.) Photographers who have self-published or printed on-demand books of more than sixty pages that are promoted and sold on the Internet as books, or have published limited-edition chapbooks or exhibit catalogs of more than sixty pages, are not eligible for the award.
Please send any questions about the guidelines and eligibility to Alexa Dilworth at the Center for Documentary Studies at email@example.com.