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 ReportingCALmatters 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.


Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

Through short documentaries, photo essays and written narratives, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn intends to profile women photographers of African descent.


Andrea Bruce

Using photography, Our Democracy combines education, community engagement, news literacy and reportage in communities across the United States, asking the question, "what does democracy look like?"

Alison Cornyn

Building upon her career of intertwining art with social responsibility, Alison Cornyn’s Incorrigibles is a transmedia project that brings to life stories and histories of young women in the juvenile justice and social service systems in the US, starting in New York.


Tanya Habjouqa

The Un/Holy Land is an interactive documentary project that takes viewers on a deep and multi-layered dive into the sacred and profane landscapes of Israel-Palestine.

Monique Jaques

Along with Every Mother Counts, this work explores issues of migration and motherhood —with grave effects for migrants, their children and the state of California.


Ryan Christopher Jones

Any One Station asks the question, “can tech be a vehicle for social mobility for Americans living in poverty?” as it visualizes the mobility struggles of a Mexican-American family in Central California.

Adia Muluneh

A Pan-African photography workshop program that supports and promotes emerging talents across Africa.

Carlos Javier Ortiz

Between the Lines examines the over policed and under protected, life between us and them: examining police-community relations.


Andrea Ellen Reed

The Unsighted Project is a participatory video project centered around violence, racism, and politics and the effects on the African American community.

Nina Robinson

Through the use of photography, Nina Robinson aims to create a visual social practice workshop to improve emotional health and well-being in rural marginalized communities in the American South.


Daniella Zalcman

Women Photograph is an initiative working to elevate the voices of women and non-binary visual journalists and to ensure that our industry's chief storytellers are as diverse as the communities they hope to represent.

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