W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography

W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography

W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography

The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund plays an important role in the growth of an individual artist’s work, in their rise to prominence, and in their legacy. Past recipients have used the grant money to finish critical, long-term documentary projects across the globe.

The Fund has awarded over $1 million in grant money over the past 39 years to photographers whose work, integrity, passion and idealism follow in the tradition of pioneering photojournalist W. Eugene Smith. This year, $35,000 will be awarded to one finalist, seeking to complete a project central to the sociopolitical dialogue of our times.  An additional $5,000 in award money will be awarded to one finalist.

Students may submit projects to the new $4,000 grant and non-photographers may apply for the $5,000 Howard Chapnick Grant, which supports fields ancillary to photojournalism such as research and editing.

All entries must be received by May 31, 2018. To enter, visit the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund website for full rules and submission guidelines.

2017 recipient, Daniel Castro Garcia, is using this grant to build upon his project, Foreigner: Peri N’Tera,’ which examines the  psychological effects of migration and resettlement on African refugees living in Sicily. The portrait above is of Madia, who left Senegal with his best friend to find a new life in Europe; his friend, Sana, was murdered by traffickers in Libya before the continent's shores could be reached.


The W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography is presented annually to a photographer whose past work and proposed project, as judged by a panel of experts, follows the tradition of W. Eugene Smith’s concerned photography and dedicated compassion exhibited during his 45-year career as a photographic essayist.

The W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography was established in 1978 following the death of Gene Smith, the legendary American photo essayist. It is today the most prestigious honor in documentary photography. Every year it recognizes a photographer who has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to documenting the human condition in the spirit of Smith’s concerned photography and dedicated compassion.

The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, INC., a not-for-profit corporation qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, independently administers the grant program that provides photographers with the financial freedom to carry out or complete major photographic essays. For 2018, the amount of the grant will be $35,000. An additional $5,000 in fellowship money will be dispersed, at the discretion of the jury, to one or more finalists deemed worthy of special recognition. Awards will be presented in a ceremony held in New York City on October 17, 2018.

To enter, visit the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund website for full rules and submission guidelines


‘Foreigner: I Peri N’Tera’ by Daniel Castro Garcia

This portrait of Mohammad Ali taken on the banks of the Tiber River, Rome. I first met him in June 2015 when he was living in the C.A.R.A. di Mineo Reception Centre in Sicily. He had a very difficult time there and decided to leave and try his luck elsewhere in Italy. Originally from Sierra Leone, he was separated from his family as a child and he experienced significant physical abuse during the civil war. He still suffers extreme pain from the consequences of his injuries and does not have any contact with his family.

Aly left Senegal and spent three years travelling to Libya, washing dishes in Mali and Burkina Faso in order to earn the money to board one of the dangerous pick-up truck convoys and cross the Sahara Desert. He has lived in Catania for nearly five years and has only recently received a work permit. The breakthrough however does not relieve the difficulty of his situation. Finding employment as a young African man is extremely challenging in Sicily. He recently attended a trial shift at a restaurant and was dismissed before starting. The reason given to him was that he is black.

Everyone knows Aly as “Gucci”, a slang term for “good” or “alright”, because of his positive attitude. He has not seen his family for over eight years.