Each year, the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund issues some of the most prestigious awards in photojournalism. Their Howard Chapnick Grant is awarded to encourage and support leadership in fields ancillary to photojournalism, such as editing research, education and management. We are pleased to announce that Michael Shaw, publisher of our site, has been awarded the grant on behalf of Reading the Pictures.
Nine years ago, we created a simple and elegant format to explore an image. The Reading the Pictures Salon is a panel discussion, broadcast live online, to analyze the media framing of news and documentary photographs. These programs are watched live by hundreds of people at a time who can also participate by live chat.
Each salon does a deep analysis of 8-9 carefully researched images representing the visual representation of a key social issue. Our panel is made up of leading photographers who have shot the story, photo editors who have crafted it, and visual scholars who specialize in that subject matter.
Since 2008, we have produced 28 Salons looking at topics such as the media representation of Science, Surveillance, presidential campaigns, the Migrant Crisis, the Great Recession, and other topics with sponsors such as Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and the Open Society Foundation.
You can see highlight clips and the full broadcast of all our Salons at our YouTube Channel. The clips are short, highly-crafted discussion highlights of each photo.
With our Chapnick grant, we will produce a salon looking at “American Media’s Visual Representation of the US/Mexico Border Wall.” The project focuses on how that controversial barrier has been characterized. It will also explore how photographers and the media are using imagery to capture the political narrative, inject opinions, or to outright challenge the wall from a human rights and social justice perspective.
The following comments were published tonight by the Smith Fund:
“I am honored to receive the Howard Chapnick grant on behalf of myself and Reading the Pictures,” Mr. Shaw said. “I never had the privilege to meet Mr. Chapnick, but I greatly appreciate his legacy. He was dedicated to photographers, to developing their vision, and to capturing deeper truths. We feel his conscience is in our work. Chapnick might have been surprised by how much photography and visual culture have taken off, and now permeates daily life. But I’m certain the commitment to understanding that imagery, and helping people read it, is a mission he would have thoroughly recognized,” Shaw added.
“Michael Shaw and his team at Reading the Pictures have brought deep analysis to daily news photography,” said Brian Storm, founder of MediaStorm, Smith Fund board member, and Chair of this year’s adjudication committee for the Chapnick Grant. “Their online salon brings together experts and practitioners in an effort to raise visual literacy.”
For the rest of the awards, Daniel Castro Garcia was the recipient of the Smith Fund’s 2017 Grant in Humanistic Photography, and photographers Edmund Clark and Alex Majoli each received a Smith Fund Fellowship.
Watch for the live Border Wall salon next Summer, along with analysis of a larger edit of border wall photos on our Instagram feed. The photos above, by John Moore and Jim Watson, are images we will be considering for the salon.
— Meg Handler
(Photo: John Moore/Getty Images Caption: SAN DIEGO, CA – APRIL 30: U.S. Border Patrol agents open a door in the U.S.-Mexico Border fence during an “Opening the Door of Hope” event on April 30, 2016 in San Diego, California. Five families, with some members living in Mexico and others in the United States, were permitted to meet and embrace for three minutes each at a door in the fence, which the U.S. Border Patrol opened to celebrate Mexican Children’s Day. It was only the third time the fence, which separates San Diego from Tijuana, had been opened for families to briefly reunite. The event was planned by the immigrant advocacy group Border Angels. Photo 2: Jim Watson/AFP Photo Caption: A tree stands in a gap in the border fence on the US/Mexico border in Tecate, California, on February 14, 2017. Attention Editors, this image is part of an ongoing AFP photo project documenting the life on the two sides of the US/Mexico border simultaneously by two photographers traveling for ten days from California to Texas on the US side and from Baja California to Tamaulipas on the Mexican side between February 13 and 22, 2017.)