With 1 Week Left to Apply for The Alexia Professional Grant, Chair Mike Davis Offers Advice

There is only one week remaining to submit your application for The Alexia $20,000 Professional Documentary Photography Grant. The deadline for the Professional Grant is Feb. 1 at 11.59 p.m. EST. (Student Grant applications are due Mar. 1.)

As you enter into the final application period, we have advice and encouragement for you. This past Friday, Syracuse University Alexia Tsairis Chair of Documentary Photography Mike Davis spent an hour answering questions from applicants just like you. He addressed straightforward issues, such as who is eligible for the grant (all professional image makers) and whether diptychs are allowed (yes, but a 2 image diptych will count as 2 images toward the 20 image limit. An image with text will count for one image.) There are no age limits, and the competition is completely international. We welcome applicants from anywhere in the world.

Davis also dove deeper into what successful applications consist. Of the utmost importance are the proposal and the images. They both must be of the highest caliber to merit a grant. When writing a proposal, there are four essential steps.

1) Describe the project you are going to produce
2) Describe why it is important
3) Talk about how you are going to produce the work
4) Talk about what will result because of the work, whether it is a specific outcome that will result because of relationships you have set in motion, or, to a lesser extent, perhaps that the result will be a book or an exhibition

Davis urged the audience to view previous winning entries, all of which are on The Alexia website at alexiafoundation.org/stories

Students from School #18 perform a show at the local theater in Sergiyev Posad, Russia, 15 Dec 2016. The show promotes the cadet school at School #18. Photo by Sarah Blesener, recipient of The Alexia 2017 Professional Grant

Judges do not see CV’s or references. Those are for our internal use. Your work stands on its own. Judges tend to respond most to work created with intimacy, connectivity and engagement with the topic. The more you can make the proposal humanistic, the more the judges will likely respond to it. (But keep yourself out of the proposal. It is not about you. It is about the issue.)

Since the proposal is limited to 750 words, you need to be precise, but that doesn’t mean you need to use all 750 words. Likewise, don’t feel that you have to submit 20 images. A recent First Place Student Winner won with only 14 strong photographs and an equally strong proposal.

Davis noted that frequently those who tend to be more successful in the process are those who have begun their projects, but who are not close to completion. While he admitted he cannot give a concrete number, he suggested that if you have started a project and you feel you are in the 30-50% range of completion, now is a good time to apply for a grant.

Davis closed the discussion saying, “If you do submit, I want to thank you for doing so. I look at and I read every proposal. I am looking forward to everything you do, have done and will do.”

All of us at The Alexia Foundation echo Davis’s sentiments. We are honored that you have chosen to apply for The Alexia Grants and we thank you for your dedication to making the world a better place through photography.

Please watch the Facebook Live video for more useful information. If you still have questions, reach out to Mike Davis mdavis@syr.edu. And, apply now!

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