CatchLight and ICP Collaboration Supports CatchLight Fellows

2017 Fellows Sarah Blesener and Brian L. Frank discuss their fellowship projects with incoming ICP students at Photoville.

2017 Fellows Sarah Blesener and Brian L. Frank discuss their fellowship projects with incoming ICP students at Photoville.


CatchLight is thrilled to announce a new collaboration with The International Center of Photography, acting as an education partner for CatchLight Fellows.

CatchLight is a San Francisco Bay Area–based nonprofit dedicated to visual storytelling and the power of photography to drive social change. The CatchLight Fellowship serves as an incubator—a space to receive financial support, unlock individual potential, and leverage partnerships. Each year CatchLight recognizes three professional photographers who have demonstrated excellence in the novel use of photography to bring awareness to challenging social issues. Each CatchLight Fellow receives a $30,000 grant and then collaborates with a CatchLight partner to complete his or her proposed project. The 2018 Fellows are Aida MulunehCarlos Javier Ortiz, and Andrea Bruce.

“There is no one that understands the identification and development of individual photographic vision better than ICP,” says Nancy Farese, CatchLight founder and executive director. “At CatchLight, we identify the best of modern day visual storytellers, and surround them with resources, networks, and leadership support to amplify the reach of their stories. We are so honored to be partnering with ICP to nurture the potential reach and personal growth of these storytellers.”

As an education partner, ICP will provide targeted mentorship, specialized use of facilities, and educational programming as related to the content of the work created. ICP will also provide each CatchLight Fellow with two formal mentorship sessions. The first session will be with Lacy Austin, ICP director of community programs and CatchLight advisory council member, and Jenny Stratton, CatchLight impact and engagement manager, followed by a second with one of ICP’s academic chairs as determined by the genre of the work. CatchLight Fellows will also be given the opportunity to share their work with the ICP community.

“ICP is thrilled to partner with CatchLight and support such exceptional fellows,” says Austin. “As we all share in the mission of visual storytelling for social change, we are better positioned to achieve it when we work together.”


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 her program, Muluneh will also be producing her own collection that explores the relationship between history and images in Africa.


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.


In partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, 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 US 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.


The International Center of Photography (ICP) is the world’s leading institution dedicated to photography and visual culture. 

Cornell Capa founded ICP in 1974 to preserve the legacy of “concerned photography”—the creation of socially and politically minded images that have the potential to educate and change the world—and the center’s mission endures today, even as the photographic medium and imagemaking practices have evolved. Through its exhibitions, school, public programs, and community outreach, ICP offers an open forum for dialogue about the role that photographs, videos, and new media play in our society. To date, it has presented more than 700 exhibitions and offered thousands of classes at every level. 

ICP brings together photographers, artists, students, and scholars to create and interpret the realm of the image. Here, members of this unique community are encouraged to explore photography and visual culture as mediums of empowerment and as catalysts for wide-reaching social change.

This post originally appeared on ICP’s website and can be found here.