Open Call: W. Eugen Smith Grant



The W. Eugene Smith Grant 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 evidenced during his 45-year career as a photographic essayist. This Grant is designed to help a photographer begin a photographic project or help complete an ongoing photographic project. The Judges will be looking for a photographer whose proposed project seems most likely to use exemplary and compelling photojournalism and documentary photography (possibly supplemented by or incorporating multi-media) to address an issue of import and impact related to the human condition: social change, humanitarian concern, armed conflict, or other topics of interpersonal, psychological, cultural, social, environmental, scientific, medical and/or political significance, ideally expressing an underlying acknowledgement of our common humanity.

Applicants should submit new or ongoing work from a project that would likely benefit from (and likely be concluded if) the photographer were to receive the grant. Applicants may also submit limited supplementary past work on a related subject as a way of demonstrating the photographer’s ability to execute a new proposed project. A written description and proposal is required.

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 a major photographic essay.


A biography up to 1500 characters (spaces included). A CV, up to 2000 characters (spaces included), is optional and can instead be submitted as a PDF of unlimited length.

The project description is a concise synopsis or summary of the project. This outline should be brief but comprehensive. Ideally, the project will be journalistically realizable, visually translatable, and humanistically driven. The description should not exceed 2000 characters (spaces included).

The project proposal should go into greater detail, describing the practical aspects of the applicant’s plan. It should explain how the applicant will use the Smith Grant funds to launch or complete the project. The proposal should not exceed 3000 characters (spaces included).

IMAGES: Applicants can submit up to 40 images total. These should consist of representative images from the project being proposed to the W. Eugene Smith Fund. Or, if a new project, the applicant can include in their submission past work clearly marked as such, that represents the candidate’s vision and their ability to execute the project being proposed to the fund.

Juror Information

The Fund’s Board of Trustees impanels a three member international jury. The jury meets twice. At the first session the Jury reviews the required materials: applications, proposals, and photographs. They select ten finalists on the basis of the substantive and intellectual merits of their projects. Finalists will be given the opportunity over a short period of time to refine their proposals and to answer specific questions from the Jury about their project. At the second session the jury will review all new material and select the W. Eugene Smith Grant recipient, the W. Eugene Smith Grant Fellow, and two W. Eugene Smith Grant Finalists.

What the Recipient Receives

For 2022, the amount of the W. Eugene Smith Grant is $40,000. An additional $5,000 grant will be awarded as a Fellowship, and two finalists deemed worthy of special recognition will each be given a grant of $2,500.

In the event the applicant is the recipient of the Smith Grant, applicant hereby agrees to donate to the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, as an unrestricted gift, twelve (12) digital images and twelve (12) prints of work completed as part of the project proposed herein. Applicant agrees to deliver six (6) of said images to the Fund nine (9) months after receiving the Grant, and the remaining six (6) of said images within eighteen (18) months after receiving the Grant. The Smith Fund will disperse $35,000 upon award of the Grant and the balance upon submission of the final prints.

The images shall become part of the W. Eugene Smith Legacy Collection at the International Center of Photography in New York. Applicant also agrees that as part of the unrestricted gift, the Smith Fund may exhibit the images and may use them to promote the activities of the Fund.

Entrance Fee

$50 USD.

Application Fee Waiver: Through a partnership with the African Photojournalism Database, African Women in Photography, the Authority Collective, Black Women Photographers, Diversify Photo, the Everyday Projects, Foto Féminas, Indigenous Photograph, the Magnum Foundation, and Women Photograph, the Smith Fund will be making a select number of application fee waivers available to photographers seeking to apply to the Eugene Smith Grant, the Howard Chapnick Grant, and the Eugene Smith Student Grant. Photographers who cannot afford the submission fee should request a fee waiver from one of the following organizations before March 25, 2022. Please note: You must fit the demographic makeup of the individual organizations from whom you are requesting the waiver

Submission deadline – 31 May 2022

Further information