The W. Eugene Smith Grant for Student Photographers

Photo by Marwan Bassiouni, 2018 W. Eugene Smith Student Grant Recipient. From the series  New Dutch Views .

Photo by Marwan Bassiouni, 2018 W. Eugene Smith Student Grant Recipient. From the series New Dutch Views.



Grant submissions accepted until 11:59 PM (EST) on April 20, 2019 

The W. Eugene Smith Grant for Student Photographers is designed to encourage and support students whose photographic work renews the tradition of W. Eugene Smith’s humanistic and compassionate photography. Special consideration will be given to work that promotes social change and that embraces new technologies and image distribution, and that seeks to integrate the tradition of photography and social change with contemporary practice. The Judges will be looking for a photographer and his or her proposed project that seems most likely to use exemplary and compelling photojournalism (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 interpersonal, psychological, cultural, social environmental, scientific medical and/or political significance, ideally expressing an underlying acknowledgement or our common humanity.

Applicants should submit provisional or ongoing work from an as-yet-to-be completed 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 the new Proposed Project. A written project proposal is also required. The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, a not-for-profit corporation qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, independently administers this grant which provides a student photographer with the financial freedom to carry out or complete a photographic essay. For 2019, the amount of the grant will be $4,000. The award will be presented in a ceremony held in New York City on October 16, 2019.


A Bio and/or CV submitted as a PDF not to exceed 500 words.

The Project Proposal should be titled and begin with a single paragraph summary of the project. The proposal description may be more fully described; however, this should be concise, journalistically realizable, visually translatable, humanistic ally driven, and not exceed 500 words. The applicant must affirm that the proposed project is ongoing and indicate how they will use the Smith Fund Student Grant to fulfill it.

StudentID: A PDF of a current Student ID must be submitted.

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. The applicant can include in his/her submission, past work clearly marked that represents the candidate’s vision and his or her ability to execute the project being proposed to the Fund.

Juror Information

The Fund’s Board of Trustees appoints a three-member international jury every year. The jury meets twice. At its first session the Jury reviews the required materials: applications and proposals and photographs. They select a small number of finalists on the basis of the substantive and intellectual merit of their project. 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. Finalists are also asked to produce and to deliver a 1-3 minute video with audio describing their proposal. At its second session, the jury reviews the new materials including the 1-3 minute video, and it proceeds to select and to notify the grant recipient and the beneficiaries of the fellowship and finalist stipend. (The videos will be shown at the Smith Grant Ceremony in October.)

Entrance Fee

$1 USD per project.


Call for entries open – 1 January 2019

Submission deadline – 20 April 2019

Notification to all applicants – 15 July 2019

Recipient announcement to public – 16 October 2019

40th Annual W. Eugene Smith Grant Ceremony – 16 October 2019


Can non-students apply?
No. This is a special award conceived to encourage a commitment to social issues by current students. Non students are eligible to apply for the Smith Fund Grant.

Can collectives apply?

Can high school students apply?

Can non-photography majors apply?
Yes. You do not need to be a photography major to apply.

Do you need to be enrolled in an art school?
No. Any student registered for a full time degree, diploma or certificate program is eligible, on both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Is there any age restriction for applicants?

Can I submit my application by mail?
No, the Smith Fund does not accept applications by regular mail. The application is online only.

Must my project have already been started?
Yes, your work will be judged as a work-in-progress and the images submitted should be from this ongoing body of work.

When will I be notified of the outcome of the W. Eugene Smith Student Photographer Grant?
We will send an email notification on July 15 to all applicants.

Does the Smith Fund offer guidance or commentary on the proposals?
No. With only a volunteer staff the Smith Fund cannot advise or offer feedback on submissions or proposals.

Can I submit multiple applications for different projects?
No. Individuals can submit only one proposal.

My Project Summary, Project Proposal, Bio and/or C/V are longer than the length stated in the guidelines. Can I still submit it/them?
We strongly encourage applicants to meet the stated requirements. Submissions exceeding the stated limits may not be reviewed.

What format should I save my digital images?
You should submit JPEG images saved with maximum quality compression with a long dimension of at least 1500 pixels, sRGB color space.

Can I enter if I live outside of the U.S.?
Yes. Except where prohibited by law, international applications can be submitted

I will be a student at the time of submission but I will have graduated by the time the grant is decided. Am I eligible to apply for the Student Grant?

Will my images be sold?
No. You retain copyright to your photograph and the Sponsors may not sell your photo entry for a fee. Grant recipient photos may be used in connection with the Smith Grant and promotion of the grant.

Do you still have questions?
For additional questions email:


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