2018 CatchLight Fellows: Three visionary photographers receive grants in support of projects driving social change

CatchLight is pleased to announce their 2018 fellows: Carlos Javier Ortiz, Aida Muluneh, and Andrea Bruce. In its second year, the fellowship program continues to recognize photographers for their excellence in depicting visual stories of crucial issues — ideally motivating action for social change.

Each Fellow will receive a $30,000 grant and will be paired with a CatchLight media partner to complete their proposed project that builds upon past work, demonstrates measurable social awareness and expands understanding of how visual art can be used to communicate vital social issues. The 2018 media partners include The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and two additional partners who will be selected to best support the fellows’ projects. This year’s fellows were selected from more than 300 proposals for consideration from 52 countries with an even gender split. Click here to learn more about the CatchLight Fellowship.

 © Carlos Javier Ortiz

© Carlos Javier Ortiz

Carlos Javier Ortiz

In light of recent high-profile shootings in Sacramento, the rest of the state and the country, Carlos Javier Ortiz’s project Between the Lines presents an examination of the Ferguson Effect, while exploring aspects of trust surrounding police-citizen relations. The artist will create a visual ethnographic short-film that offers an unprecedented look into the lives of residents of Del Paso Heights and South Sacramento affected by the recent spike in violent crimes, and how they negotiate their lives with the police and community.

 © Aida Mulluneh

© Aida Mulluneh

Aida Muluneh

In creating an expansive workshop and mentorship program, Aida Muluneh seeks to support and promote emerging African photographers in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Italy. As she attempts to interrogate the foreign gaze and also to raise the awareness of the impact of photography in shaping cultural perceptions, participating students will develop their own stories based on what they are confronted with in their own countries, historically or through current depictions in the media. Through these her program, Muluneh will also be producing her own collection that explores the relationship between history and images in Africa.

 © Andrea Bruce

© Andrea Bruce

Andrea Bruce

Andrea Bruce’s project Our Democracy seeks to push people to look beyond politics and examine the social conditions that underpin our society, providing a visual record of the state of local democracy at this moment in U.S. history. Throughout the fellowship, Bruce will move and immerse herself in a different community each month, and use visual and audio storytelling to explore experiences and thoughts on contemporary democracy in the United States using Alexis de Tocqueville’s route studying democracy in the mid-1800s. The project also unfolds online, where it will be combined with an interactive map of the journey with multimedia content and data about the community’s social and political involvement.

2018 Fellowship Shortlist: Eleven Photographers Telling Visual Stories of Crucial Social Issues

San Francisco, Calif.—CatchLight is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2018 CatchLight Fellowship, which recognizes excellence in the novel use of photography to depict and bring awareness to challenging social issues. The shortlisted photographers were selected for creative leadership and a remarkable body of work with the potential to achieve a next level of excellence in visual storytelling, innovation in distribution and measurable social impact. CatchLight has partnered with FlakPhoto creator Andy Adams to highlight these exceptional photographers and projects on Instagram. Follow @FlakPhoto to see more work from these imagemakers in the coming weeks at hashtag #FlakPhotoCatchLight.

The Fellowship, which includes $30,000 awarded to each of three photographers, will be announced on April 2, 2018. Each fellow will be aligned with one of CatchLight’s three media partners, which will offer their expertise and distribution structures to their selected fellow. The 2018 media partners are The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, CALmatters and a third partner focused in social leadership will be selected in accordance with the awarded fellow’s project.

The Shortlist includes eleven photographers from the U.S. and abroad. Their work ranges from human stories including the journey of a pregnant migrant farm worker in America to elevating voices of women and non-binary visual journalists. Below is are the shortlisted photographers for 2018 along with a brief description of the project.

The Process
CatchLight received a total of 317 proposals for consideration from 52 countries with an even gender split. A jury of seven leaders in the field of social documentary photography—spread across four continents—spent two weeks reviewing the top 125 of the submissions before meeting on February 24, 2018, to agree on a shortlist of finalists. Working as a focused team with guidance from Stephen Mayes (former secretary to the World Press Photo competition) and with input from the two media partners, the jury assessed the proposals with several key criteria in mind: 

  • Quality of photography and creative leadership
  • Collaborative ethos and commitment to creating and contributing to fellowship community over time
  • Ability to leverage stories to engender change

The judges reached a strong consensus that each of the shortlisted candidates represent excellence in visual storytelling on a vital social issue, with particular emphasis on innovative distribution.

The Final Selection
Final award decisions will now be made by the three media partners and CatchLight, conducting interviews and reviewing references to find the right fit between the issues and the organizational resources. CatchLight Fellowships will be announced on Tuesday, April 2, 2018.

CatchLight is very grateful to its talented panel of judges and trailblazing media partners:
Amy Yenkin, Former Director of Documentary Photography at Open Society Foundation
Shahidul Alam, Managing Director, Drik Picture Library & Founder, Chobi Mela Festival of Photography
Brent Lewis, Co-Founder of Diversify.Photo and Sr. Photo Editor of ESPN The Undefeated
Azu Nwagbogu, Founder of Lagos Photo Festival
Laura Beltrán Villamizar, Projects Picture Editor at NPR, Founder of Native Agency
Paul Lowe, Director at the London College of Communication
Nina Berman, Photographer at NOOR and associate professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Marcia Parker, Publisher & Chief Operating Officer of CALMatters
Jon Sawyer, Executive Director of The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting


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 Google.org'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 hi@catchlight.io
For sponsorship opportunities please contact erica@catchlight.io
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.