By Alicia Wagner Calzada
ATHENS, GA (April 7, 2015) – Today the National Press Photographers Association announced the winners of the NPPA’s Short Grants. This year’s winners are Preston Gannaway, Stephen Reiss, Brendan Hoffman, Michael Forster Rothbart, Pete Marovich, and Richard Tsong-Taatarii. The photographers will be awarded $6,000 USD to further or complete a community photography story.
Last year the NPPA board of directors increased the number of recipients from 5 to 6, and increased the amount of the award itself, from $3,000 to $6,000 USD. This was also the first time that NPPA Short Grants were awarded for international stories. This year the judges were permitted to award up to two grants for international projects (and did so), funding one project in Ukraine, and another in Fukushima, Japan.
The judges said they had a wide selection of high quality projects to choose from. NPPA Short Grants judge Lisa Krantz explained that choosing the winners was almost impossible. “I was overwhelmed by the high quality of proposals and bodies of work we were presented with,” she said. Krantz further explained that the winners stood out because they presented “a clear plan of what the photographer intends to do with the grant and a vision for the impact they want the work to have on a particular issue or community.” The other judges were Kenny Irby and Luis Rios.
Preston Gannaway will use the grant to fund her project “Out in the Hood: Gay Youth of Color in America,” about the experiences and challenges faced by LGBT young people from racial minorities.
“This grant will open up so many more possibilities for the project!” she told News Photographer magazine.
Gannaway is an independent documentary photographer known for her intimate stories about families and subcultures. Her story on the St. Pierre family, “Remember Me,” was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography, and her work has been honored in numerous other national and international competitions including Pictures of the Year International, NPPA’s Best Of Photojournalism, Critical Mass, American Photography, and Communication Arts. Most recently, she was named a Finalist for the 2014 Getty Images and Chris Hondros Fund Award.
Richard Tsong-Taatarii, a staff photographer at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, will be using his grant to document and explore expressions of love in the Lakota culture.
"I am elated and grateful to have been chosen as one of the recipients of the NPPA Short Grant,” he said. “The award will allow me to finish a project dear to my heart: the broken hoop is being healed for the Lakota people through the embrace of its spiritual and cultural heritage."
Tsong-Taatarii produced a majority of images and videos for a 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning package for local reporting on daycare deaths in Minnesota. He won the 2014 Puffin Foundation grant for photography of underreported social issues; the 2010 regional Emmy for multimedia photographer of the year; numerous awards for picture essays, general news, features and multimedia in MNPA and was part of winning team for the regional Edward Murrow Award for investigative video reporting in 2013.
Brendan Hoffman, an independent American photographer based in the Ukraine, will be using the grant to document the crisis in Ukraine. He won multiple awards in the Getty Images European Editorial Awards, the White House News Photographers Association’s contest, POYi, the DART Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Trauma, and has previously won a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Hoffman’s clients include TIME Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, M Le Magazine du Monde, Stern, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, USA Today, MSNBC, and NBC News.
Pete Marovich, an independent photographer in the Washington, DC, area was awarded the grant to continue his work, “Shadows of the Gullah Geechee,” documenting the Gullah Geechee communities in the southeastern United States. The Gullah Geechee communities are direct descendants of enslaved Africans, who have continued to pass their land and traditions down through the generations. Their way of life is threatened by extensive development in coastal areas.
Stephen Reiss, a staff photographer at the Times-News in Twin Falls, Idaho, will be documenting the LGBT population in the Bronx, New York. Reiss is a former Emergency Fund Fellow at the Magnum Foundation and an International Photo Awards winner.
“Currently, traditional media outlets lack the resources to fund in-depth documentary projects,” Reiss said, “and grants like this have become important to the production of long-term photo essays on underreported issues. During this time of great change in the media landscape, where we are being forced to rethink what photography can accomplish, it's all the more vital that independent, documentary journalism continues to be supported.”
Michael Forster Rothbart was awarded the grant to photograph the in-depth stories of families who are resettling in their homes in Fukushima, Japan, after the nuclear disaster.
“When I started as a photojournalist, I used to aspire to change the world with my photography,” Forster Rothbart said. “In time, I've understood that my witnessing is not about change but about reflection: I am holding up a mirror. I thank NPPA for the opportunity to delve deeper into my documentary work in Fukushima.’
Forster Rothbart is an independent photojournalist, a former Fulbright Fellow, and has received multiple grants and awards for his work on Chernobyl and Fukushima as well as several NPPA Best Of Photojournalism awards. He is a staff photographer at SUNY Oneonta and plans to return to Fukushima for this project during the summer.