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The Canon Female Photojournalist Award 2018 opens for entries

Catalina Martin-Chico won last year's Canon Female Photojournalist Award at Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan, France, with her proposal for a series focussing on female former members of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (known by its Spanish acronym FARC). Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens. © Catalina Martin-Chico

The annual Canon Female Photojournalist Award is now open to entrants from across the world. The award, which is in its 18th year, is given to "an outstanding female photographer in recognition of her contribution to photojournalism," and provides an €8,000 grant to fund further storytelling. 

Christian Ziegler’s

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Previous winners have covered diverse stories, such as highlighting the lives of segregated and oppressed Pashtun women in Pakistan; Afrikaner adolescents learning to shoot at South African 'defence camps'; United States military sexual assault survivors; the conflicts of the Caucasus regions of the former Soviet republics; and the reappearance of concubines in China.

Photographers are invited to submit a proposal for a social, economic, political or cultural subject that they wish to photograph in the coming year. The award, in association with photojournalism events company Images Evidence, comes with an €8,000 grant, allowing the winner to cover their chosen project. Their new series will then be exhibited at next year's prestigious Visa pour l'Image International Festival of Photojournalism in Perpignan, France.

The award is open to professional female photojournalists of all ages and nationalities, who have completed at least one photo-reportage project – published or unpublished. Free to enter, photographers are asked to submit a photo story of 10 to 20 pictures by 17 May 2018, along with a detailed story proposal and a budget.

Photojournalist Catalina Martin-Chico stands on stage with microphone in hand, as she receives her 2017 Canon Female Photojournalist Award.
The 2017 winner, Catalina, accepting the award in France. She also received an €8,000 grant to go towards developing her series on former members of FARC, to be shown in full in the Canon Zone at 2018's Visa pour l’Image International Festival of Photojournalism.

A jury of photography and press professionals will select the winner in June, judging applications on both the quality of the applicant's previous work, and the relevance and originality of the proposed project. The 2018 winner will be announced at the final evening show at Visa pour l'Image in Perpignan, France, on 8 September 2018.

The 2017 Canon Female Photojournalist Award winner, Catalina Martin-Chico, says the award gave her the "strength and faith to go forward," through its ability to breathe life into vital visual projects.

We need this kind of recognition. The award is a psychological motivation and a crucial grant.

"The photojournalism market is precarious," Catalina says. "It's increasingly difficult to be a photojournalist if you don't have another income. We need this kind of recognition. The award is a psychological motivation and a crucial grant. A magazine might give you money to produce a story in five days, but some stories can't be told in five days. It's hard to work a story deeply."

The French-Spanish photographer, who predominantly shoots in the Middle East for titles including Le Monde, Le Figaro and The New York Times, entered work into the award nine times before winning in 2017 for her essay on Colombia.

Her winning project sought to follow up her stories on female former FARC guerrillas. The left-wing Colombian militant group officially disarmed last June following a historic ceasefire agreement with the country's president, Juan Manuel Santos, in 2016. In the wake of the initial peace agreement there has been a local baby boom, with some 300 ex-FARC members falling pregnant – a topic that Catalina wanted to explore.

Thanks to the Canon Female Photojournalist Award she was able to return to Colombia to reconnect with the women she had met on her first trip there, whom she had stayed in touch with on WhatsApp. Her latest work, documenting the new direction of the former fighters' lives after peace, will be exhibited in the Canon Zone at Visa pour l'Image 2018.

Other former winners include Darcy Padilla, who used her 2016 prize money to support a project on efforts to overcome substance abuse in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, United States. Another winner, Russian freelance journalist Anastasia Rudenko, used her 2015 grant to cover mental illness in Russia.

A year earlier, French photographer Viviane Dalles scooped the prize for her proposed project on teen mothers in the north of France. Dutch documentary photographer and Canon Ambassador Ilvy Njiokiktjien, who works for NGOs and global publishers, covered Afrikaner youth in South Africa after her win in 2011.

The Canon Female Photojournalist Award is open for entries until 17 May 2018. Application packs can be downloaded from the Visa pour l'Image website.

Written by Lucy Fulford


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