Light Night: CatchLight Celebrates 2017

Thanks to everyone that came out to our inaugural Light Night: CatchLight Celebrates event that brought together an incredible community of artists, industry leaders, media partners and supporters to celebrate the work of our inaugural Fellows and contributors to the Everyday Bay Area program.

The room was buzzing with passionate conversation and we could not be more thrilled by the cultivation of this inspiring group. Welcome to the CatchLight community! 

CatchLight Fall Events

You're Invited!

November 3-4, 2017

© Inaugural CatchLight Fellow, Sarah Blesener

© Inaugural CatchLight Fellow, Sarah Blesener

This November, CatchLight will present a series of internal and public events to celebrate visual storytelling for social good borne of our inaugural Fellowship program as well as our online, Bay Area-based program, Everyday Bay Area. We will host a series of internal and public get-togethers aimed at cultivating community, discovering new work and inspiring one another to make an impact in the world around us.

Schedule of Events

Light Night: CatchLight Celebrates
Friday, November 3, 6-9 pm
Google San Francisco, 188 The Embarcadero
Registration required.  RSVP here.

This ticketed celebration at's Embarcadero location will bring together CatchLight's community of artists, industry leaders, media partners and supporters to celebrate the work of our inaugural Fellows and contributors to the Everyday Bay Area program. Fellows will be in attendance. Enjoy a slideshow and short presentations by the artists followed by hors d'oeuvres and beverages. 
Dress: Festive/cocktail.
Fee: $100

Saturday Details:

Field Notes: CatchLight Programs in Focus
Saturday, November 4, 9:30 am-4:30 pm
California College of the Arts, San Francisco
Registration required.  RSVP here.

Details: All-day event at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Join photographers, community leaders, philanthropists, activists and art students for a day of interactive dialogue between CatchLight Fellows, media partners and the community. We will explore these questions: What does it take for photographers to create visual stories that advance social change? Why does it matter?
Fee: $40

Tomas van Houtryve in conversation with Jon Sawyer from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
Tomas’ Fellowship is an exploration of the pre-1848 border between the United States and Mexico, using a wooden camera and photographic processing techniques from the mid-19th century to re-imagine a time when all of California and most of the far west was Mexican territory. Tomas discusses using photography to highlight a part of our heritage that few comprehend. Tomas will then shift to discuss the second phase of his project, documenting developments along the current U.S.-Mexico border using surveillance imaging technologies and further exploring the “weaponization” of photography.

Sarah Blesener in conversation with Robert Rosenthal from Reveal/The Center for Investigative Reporting
What does a divided America look like on the edges of the political spectrum? Sarah’s Fellowship explores America's history of training youth in the military, and growing nationalism among youth in the United States. Sarah’s story is a remarkable journey of gaining trust and exploring an unfamiliar viewpoint.

Brian Frank in conversation with Carroll Bogert from The Marshall Project
Brian’s Fellowship documents the activities of organizations working in California to provide viable alternatives to prison for people caught in the cycles of poverty and crime. Brian offers unique access to stories of the criminal justice space. The conversation will explore the potential role of a single subject media system that exists only to make a difference in the criminal justice system; where are the bright lines between advocacy and journalism?

Everyday Bay Area (EDBA) in conversation with Stephen Mayes
How does the geography of the Bay Area—seemingly so familiar—reveal unexpected insights through the very simple act of looking? Using our EDBA feed on Instagram, we explore the New California Dream. Via a seated “walking tour” of the Bay Area, we will take a deep dive into the issue of justice, reaching beyond the simple implications of law and order to explore gender, minority issues, housing and race. What are our EDBA photographers seeing, what are they revealing and how does this inform the future of the Bay Area? How does this new and ubiquitous social media tool change and inform us, in a way that promotes real social value?

© Rasta Dave, Everyday Bay Area contributor

© Rasta Dave, Everyday Bay Area contributor

Breakdown of Costs

Light Night: CatchLight Celebrates
$100 pp

Field Notes: CatchLight Programs in Focus
$40 pp

Student, Educators and Partner Discount
$20 for Saturday events

Both Friday and Saturday events
$120 pp

Saturday lunch @ CCA
$15 pp (courtesy of Le Mediterranee)

2017 CatchLight Fellows

Brian Frank
Sarah Blesener
Tomas Van Houtryve

CatchLight Board

Nancy Farese, Founder and Chair
Robert Rosenthal
Chris Michel
Mike Ramsay
Stephen Mayes
Deirdre Hockett

CatchLight Advisors

Ed Kashi
Richard Koci Hernandez
Stace Lindsay
David Campbell
Jim Waterbury
Elodie Storm
Cora Fisher
Amy Yenkin
Lekgetho James Makola
Ellen Schneider
Shahidul Alam
Kim Wright-Violich

For further information please email
For sponsorship opportunities please contact
Please see full breakdown of events on our website.
Register here!

About CatchLight:
At CatchLight, we believe in the power of art to change the world; we believe that there is a new breed of storyteller poised to help us understand how visual stories today can bind and connect us. We are a photography organization that celebrates and amplifies excellence and innovation in visual storytelling. CatchLight promotes bold, artistic ideas in visual media that matters, while building a community of like-minded thought leaders from the arts, social advocates, media and the general public.

The 6th Annual Activist Awards Winners

Two incredible photographers are honored this year for work that illustrates stories the public would otherwise never be privy to. Both use distinct approaches to vividly capture and convey their respective issues with compelling immediacy, and we're pleased to recognize their efforts to shine a light on these previously untold stories and their artistry and skill in doing so.

Professional Category:

An unseen and intentionally hidden subject is made visible in our winning entry in the professional category this year.

Åsa Sjöström's essay from secret Swedish camps offers a fascinating point of discovery into the issue of domestic and honor violence against women and children. Her ongoing project, The Secret Camps, documents life at this secluded refuge for women and children seeking to spend a few days of freedom swimming, exploring nature, and relaxing together without fear.

The images are haunting, delicate and unforgettable, as children in the photographs hide their faces with flowers and fading balloons, or stand dripping on a pier, having just swam in the lake.

"As a photojournalist, I want to create awareness and also to induce a genuine situation between me and the people in my photographs," says Sjöström. "Through a close collaboration, the Women's Rights Organization and the women gave me the full confidence to stay in the camps and to do narrative photographs."

Judges' Statement: Sjöström's visually distinctive approach evocatively captures the transformational time at the camps for women and children who have suffered domestic violence, and in so doing, she brings attention to an issue that affects women and children all over the world. We feel it's extremely important to talk about this subject, and are delighted to honor Sjöström for her imaginative, creative and well-edited series.

The two finalists in the Professional Category are Annalisa Natali Murri for her photo story, The Sky Crashed Down Upon Us, and Sergi Camara for his photo story, The Wall of Europe.

The four honorable mentions in the Professional Category are Michelle Frankfurter for Destino; Mads Nissen for Homophobia in Russia; Sebastiano Tomada for Whoever Saves a Life; and Monika Bulaj for Kosovo. The Thread.

Emerging Category:

While the women and children portrayed in Sjöström's poetic essay find solace in secrecy, the opposite is true of the community at the center of the winning series in the emerging category -- a community which struggles to be heard.

Amirtharaj Stephen's narrative essay captures, from an intimate vantage point, a story unlikely to be covered by the mainstream media: Koodankulam: A Nuclear Plant In My Backyard, documents the uprising of a local community against the Indian and Russian Government on the commissioning of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP), as well as the violence by government forces attempting to clamp down on the protesters.

With striking clarity the images detail action-oriented yet emotional moments, such as villagers reacting to an Indian Coast Guard plane diving towards their assembly, and a distraught woman chased into the sea by police.

"The government did little to allay the fears of the people," explains Stephen. "There was no transparency from the government. They did not even share the basic documents with the people and there was no disaster management plan. There are over half a million people living in a 30kms radius. And all of these things were reflected in the struggle of the Idinthakarai people. That convinced me to stay long, and document the happenings."

Judges' Statement: Having a local photographer documenting such a struggle adds insight. This series speaks to the growing demand for energy in booming economies like India's, and questions who gets left behind in the process while also touching on a broader issue: That of a local citizenry pushing back against corporate and government interests. We found the series compelling in its energy--both raw and elegant, with a strong forcefulness and a distinct voice.

The two finalists in the Emerging Category are Dmitry Markov for his photo story, Gray Brick Road, and Megan E. Doherty for her photo story, Back of the Yards.

The two honorable mentions in the Emerging Category are Ksenia Diodorova for In the Cold and Laura Santopietro for AZADI Freedom.

This year we received 256 submissions from 54 different countries, and awarded $15,000 to a professional and $5,000 to an emerging photographer. The awards were juried by our distinguished panel:

Alice Gabriner, International Photo Editor, TIME magazine
Balazs Gardi, Independent photographer
Neil Harris, Senior Photo Editor, WIRED
Teru Kuwayama, Instagram Community Team
Stephen Mayes, Executive Director, Tim Hetherington Trust