“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, judge, 2012 CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography
It’s September! We’re nearing the end of our past winner and prize judge countdown, and the 2016 CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography deadline is right around the corner on the 15th. There is only one more week to get your applications in!
Vanessa, Milan Ball, Manhattan, 1997. Photograph by Gerard H. Gaskin.
Giselle, Latex Ball, Manhattan, 2008. Photograph by Gerard H. Gaskin.
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.
Each year a significant and innovative artist, curator, or writer in photography is chosen to judge the prize and write an introduction to the winning book. In 2012, renowned curator, historian, and photographer Deborah Willis selected Gerard H. Gaskin to win for his black-and-white and color photographs in Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene, which document the African American and Latino house and ballroom community over a twenty-year period in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. “The balls were born out of a need for black and Latino gays to have a safe space to express themselves,” writes Gaskin. “My images try to show a personal and intimate beauty, pride, dignity, courage, and grace that have been painfully challenged by mainstream society.”.
Scroll down to watch a video and interview with Gerard H. Gaskin about his prizewinning project, and go to firstbookprizephoto.com/photogalleries to view work by all past winners.
“Gaskin’s awareness of the effect the performers have on the audience is a crucial aspect of his vision. Through his lens, he conveys the showmanship these actors and artists exude, their knowingness of the spectacle created by their flair. . . . He shows us the power the performers have to reveal themselves through spectacle, to challenge viewers to recognize this display of selfhood. Regardless of our walks of life, we are all looking for safe spaces to express ourselves. Legendary allows us to bear witness to a group of people who are courageous enough to create their safe space.”—Deborah Willis, from her introduction
“When I was being trained as a photographer, I was taught that book was the culmination of any long-term endeavor, to really complete the project,” said Gaskin. “I also love photography books, I love to just sit and look at pictures, to look at book covers over and over again. I believe that a good book is a book you want to return to. I always wanted to see my images in book format. When you told me I had won, I started to cry like a baby. I just started to think about my life and how hard I had worked to make this happen.”
Submissions for the eighth CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography are now being accepted through September 15, 2016. Peter Barberie, the Brodsky Curator of Photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will be this year’s prize judge. Melissa Harris, editor-in-chief of the Aperture Foundation, will chair the selection committee that chooses the finalists
Books in the First Book Prize in Photography series are copublished by the Center for Documentary Studies and Duke University Press.