News Archive

Memorial Service Planned For Larry Davis, 61

 A memorial service for former Los Angeles Times photojournalist Larry Davis is planned for Saturday, March 4, at 2 p.m. at 1107 First Ave. in Seattle, WA. Davis, 61, died January 19 when he took his own life near Lake Washington on the two-year anniversary of spreading his late wife's ashes along the same shoreline. Davis's wife, Bertha Jo Hagfors ("B.J."), died in 2004 after a long battle with cancer.

After the Saturday memorial service, friends and mourners plan to caravan to Lake Washington to spread Davis's ashes along the same shore where B.J.'s ashes were spread during her memorial.

The meeting place for the first part of the service on First Ave. is in a building at the corner of Spring and First Streets, across and just south of the Seattle Art Museum. Friends will gather on the sixth floor. Parking is at the rear of the building on Post Alley. Those who plan to attend are asked to RSVP to [email protected].

An earlier story about Davis written at the time of his death is here.


OSI Announces Katrina Media Fellowships

The Open Society Institute, a part of the Soros Foundations Network, has announced a one-time fellowship competition, "In response to the critical issues of poverty, racism, and government neglect that were laid bare by Hurricane Katrina." The Katrina Media Fellowships will support photographers, documentary film and video makers, and print and radio journalists who "generate and improve media coverage of issues exposed by Katrina."

In their statement announcing the fellowships the OSI said, "Katrina’s aftermath placed in sharp relief persistent problems of poverty, racism and government neglect plaguing the United States. Just five months after the destruction of New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Region, the public’s attention has, for the most part, shifted elsewhere. By supporting in-depth journalism and media projects, OSI aims to stimulate and sustain a national conversation on these issues."

Kate Black, a program officer for the Open Society Institute's U.S. Justice Fund, said in the announcement that the OSI expects to award between 12 to 15 fellowships in mid-May 2006, and that the grants will be between $15,000 and $35,000 to carry out projects in photography, print, radio, and documentary film and video production. The award amount will include a stipend and will cover project expenses. The grants will vary in size depending on the project's duration, its medium, and associated costs.

The fellowship term is for one year and it begins on June 15, 2006. OSI will give special consideration to applicants who have been displaced from, or who are residents of, the Gulf Region. The application deadline is 5 p.m. on Friday, March 31, 2006.

Black said that applicants are expected to propose projects that "deepen the public's understanding of race and class inequalities in the Gulf Region that were brought to light in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina." Also, applicants can propose projects that address the government's response to post-Katrina problems, the use or misuse of public funds, the role of private contractors, the effectiveness of the clean-up and rebuilding efforts, and lessons learned in the event of future natural disasters.

George Soros is founder and chairman of the OSI and the Soros Foundations Network. He is also the chairman of Soros Fund Management LLC. OSI is a private operating and grantmaking foundation that aims to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform. OSI implements a range of initiatives to support the rule of law, education, public health, and independent media, and works to build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as combating corruption and rights abuses.

Complete guidelines and an application form for the Katrina Media Fellowships that can be downloaded as an Acrobat .PDF file are online at the Open Society Institute's section of the Sorors Foundations Network Web site here.


Covering Katrina's Victims Led To Operation Photo Rescue

David Ellis and Becky Sell, photojournalists from The Free Lance-Star in Fredricksburgh, VA, may know about as much about the family lineage of the folks who live down in Pass Christian, MS, than just anybody else in town. That’s because Ellis and Sell spent a long week staring at photographs of the area’s residents, past and present, and their families on two computer screens for days on end, gazing at mud-stained, moldy, waterlogged, ripped, nearly-demolished pictures of weddings, of great-great grandparents long departed, of once-in-a-lifetime vacation trips, of graduation and baby pictures, of parties - you name it - a virtual visual genealogy of the people whose town and lives were nearly destroyed last year by Hurricane Katrina and the storm surge floodwaters that followed.

Becky SellPass Christian sits on a finger of land between three bodies of water: the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi Sound, and St. Louis Bay. Ellis and Sell went down there acting on a bright idea, and that was to set up computers and a copy stand with digital cameras and launch Operation Photo Rescue. Their goal was to restore as many of the storm-damaged personal photographs found in Pass Christian as possible. The two volunteers set up their gear in space donated by the local library. They spent nights tucked in sleeping bags on the library’s hard floor between bookshelves. Their days were long, filled with copying photos, pushing a mouse around in Photoshop, and then writing an online Blog about their experiences.

When word spread around town and folks started lining up at the door with their photographic keepsakes and memories, the duo needed more help. So they eMailed image files back to the photo staff in Fredricksburgh where the crew back in Virginia rolled up their sleeves and pitched in. And when the Blog spread the word to the larger photo community, folks around the country volunteered to help too, receiving image files in eMails and working Photoshop's restoration magic from locations far away and time zones removed from the hurricane-demolished coast.

By noon of only the second day, the residents of Pass Christian had showed up with more than 200 photographs. Their images covered everything from “A woman’s only wedding photos from 50 years ago to a father’s only picture of his little girl before she passed away,” Sell wrote in the Blog. “The amount of work is far more than two people can handle, but we're trying!”

Sell is a staff photojournalist at The Free Lance-Star and an NPPA member since 2001. Ellis is the newspaper's photography assignment editor and an NPPA member since 1996. The Free Lance-Star sent both of them to Mississippi to cover the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina last year. During one of those assignments Sell photographed a woman as she returned to her family’s home and, amidst the devastation, found her family's photographs that had been ruined by the floodwaters. That experience gave birth to this year's idea for Operation Photo Rescue. The two volunteered to do the mission on their own time, but the newspaper and photography director Charlie Borst backed their idea and paid for the supplies needed for the restoration effort and kept Sell and Ellis on the schedule, counting their time in Pass Christian as regular working hours.

Restored photographsAs the damaged pictures came in Sell performed triage and decided which images would be “easy” and needed only a little work, which photos were “moderate” and needed an hour or two of work, and which pictures were “hard” and would require major reconstruction. Volunteers around the country ranged from veteran photojournalists to college students, with varying levels of expertise and availability. Sell doled the work out accordingly.

By the fourth evening in town the duo estimated that more than 500 photos had been brought to them, in 71 groups. Ellis wrote in the Blog on Thursday night, “One woman brought in a photo of her grown son when he was a toddler. I was overjoyed that the photo was completely restorable, especially since the boy resembles my own 15-month-old son Jack. Not too long afterwards, my heart sank as I had to tell another woman that none of the last remaining photos of her children were salvageable. The tears were welling in her eyes as she told me she understood. She also thanked me for what we were trying to do. My tears came when she gave me a hug before she left, thanking me one last time.”

Ellis and Sell packed up at the end of the week and made the drive back to Fredricksburgh, but they’re not done with Operation Photo Rescue. There’s still plenty of work to do. Sell says they still have about 150 photographs left to work on. They plan to do some of the work themselves and distribute the remaining pictures to the growing list of volunteers. After the work's done on this group of pictures, Sell and Ellis will print them and mail them back to their owners in Mississippi.

Sell says the strangest photograph she saw during the week as one of a “king and queen, signed, with a woman shaking their hands, from about the 1980s.” There were also hard pictures, emotional photographs. The hardest photographs that she tried to restore were the wedding photos of a woman who found her damaged wedding album wedged underneath a fence when floodwaters receded. “Her house was destroyed, and she lost everything. This is all she had left,” Sell said. “They were fifty years old, and there was almost nothing left of them. They were peeling off. I had to look at them and tell her, ‘There’s not much we can do.' But you try to give back what you can.”

“We’re hoping to do it again, to continue,” Sell said today from Fredricksburgh. “It’s still very much in the planning stage, but we hope to extend Operation Photo Rescue and go back to Pass Christian and to also keep doing it remotely, with someone there doing the copy work on damaged images who will then send them to us.”

Ellis and Sell hope that photographers will continue to volunteer and will help to restore more of the damaged photographs. They're building a list of names of folks who are interested in donating their time and skills for the project. Sell can be reached via eMail at [email protected], and the Operation Photo Rescue Blog is online here.


Steven R. Nickerson: As Rare As Hen's Teeth

By Donald R. Winslow

Steven R. Nickerson’s story is not an easy one to tell.

He’s a photojournalist. A very good one. He’s also a funny guy; one look at him confirms that notion. He’s worked hard and done well; his peers and professional awards testify to that. Over the years he’s seen great joy and great sorrow though his cameras; right now, he’s experiencing some of both in his own life. He has a very rare life-threatening disease that’s stiffening his entire body, turning soft tissue to hard, and making him fall back on a little black humor to get by, referring to himself in third-person with self-anointed nicknames like “Timber,” as in the wood, and “Carcass Boy.”

There is a treatment for the disease that’s hardening him, the rare disorder called Systemic Sclerosis (Scleroderma). But each single treatment is eye-rollingly expensive, somewhere along the lines of what a new mid-sized car would cost. Insurance paid for the first two sessions and then backed out. Scleroderma can’t be cured, only treated, and Nickerson needs 6 to 13 of the treatments if there’s to be any hope.

Portrait of Steve Nickerson by Karen L. McCleanHope is one thing Nickerson has. He seems to have never given up hope. And now he hopes that his fellow photojournalists can lend a hand by donating a signed photographic print or two from their portfolios in order to stock a silent print auction that’s being organized by his friends and coworkers at the Rocky Mountain News. The money raised will help pay for one of the treatments.

News photographers Dennis Schroeder and Ellen Jaskol, and Denver Post photographer Steve Dykes, and Kim Nguyen of the Associated Press, and others have been working behind the scenes to organize a print auction and to spread the word within the photojournalism community in hopes of soliciting a great collection of donated prints.

"Steve is an amazing photographer and an amazing person. We’re all hoping this will give him a chance for better health,” Jaskol says. Denver promoter Al Kraizer, a friend of Nickerson’s and the president of Performance International, is helping too. And so is Denver philanthropist Walter Isenberg, who owns more than 90 hotels including Denver’s historic Oxford Hotel. He’s donated space at the Oxford for the print auction to be on display.

“This disease may well kill me but it is finding a tougher foe than even I understood I could be,” Nickerson, an NPPA member since 1979, wrote to News Photographer. “The medications gave me six months of constant hard-pounding diarrhea, my stomach and esophagus and digestive system muscles failed. I lost 65 pounds and have had a constant battle with nausea, and an inability to eat since my jaws are so tight they sometimes feel like they are wired shut. I am on 14 medications with approximately 25 pills a day. I take physical therapy, acupuncture, and psychiatry often during every week, ever since the diagnosis, while seeking assistance from specialists in pulmonary, gastroenterology, neurology, urology, rheumatology and oncology. I tire easily and move stiffly. I cannot tie my shoes or scratch my back or wash my own feet.”

Nickerson, Landers, and BowmanThe print auction is still very much in the planning stages, Jaskol says, but the “call for prints” has gone out to the photojournalism world now even as the auction’s date is being finalized. The auction will be held on March 23, 2006, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Denver time) at the Oxford Hotel at 1659 Wazee Street in Denver, CO, 80202.

Nickerson is 48. He was diagnosed in January 2004. “I have had symptoms, improperly diagnosed, for two years prior. I kept this horrid reality to myself, my wife, my kids, and my parents. I am proudly married with two superlative kids, both in college, and the incredible, irreplaceable honor of being married to an angel, Karen (McClean). She is the magic in my soul and the rock with whom I share my inner fears and dreads, and together we have championed an avenue of accomplishment rather than total denial or giving up. Without Karen, I would be dead.”

“Reaching for high shelves is difficult and until recently even lifting the weight of my cameras was nearly impossible. My lungs are scarred and I keep up a monitoring program annually on my heart, and every 6 months on my lungs. This disease is markedly different in each patient. Some respond to treatment. Some do not."

Last June, Nickerson found that he could no longer do his job at the level he found acceptable for his pictures. “I raise my own bar higher every day. Now, I was falling down under it.” Nickerson has been at the Rocky Mountain News for 10 years. He’s part of the News staff that earned two Pulitzer Prizes, and he’s won a World Press Award, and a Hasselblad Magic Eye Award for a documentary project he shot on “Stinking Creek, Kentucky.”

Fashion shoot for winter coats, by Steve Nickerson“I am a professional photographer. I have been working steadily and relentlessly since the mid-1970’s. It has been an amazing journey," Nickerson wrote. "I have worked at newspapers from Ohio to New York to Kentucky to Detroit to Denver. The magic of ultimate pain and life challenge has forced up the greatly bitter and intensely sweet times I have experienced in these past few years.”

Nickerson says the only reason he's a photojournalist today is because many years ago Howard Chapnick, Black Star's famed founder, challenged him to be "more than just a warm body." And then Chapnick became a friend and supporter, along with Jeanette Chapnick, Howard's wife and Black Star's bookkeeper for several decades. "Jeanette's still one of my best friends today," Nickerson says with fondness.

Systemic Sclerosis (Scleroderma) is a rare, chronic, often progressive, autoimmune disease that translated literally means “hard skin.” The body’s immune system turns on its own tissues, attacking the skin, internal organs, and the walls of blood vessels. It is treatable, but not curable. Survivability is dictated by the degree to which the internal organs are involved. Nickerson says that in his case, the disease has primarily invested itself in his muscles and rendered them “dormant.”

“In addition, I also suffer from Raynaud's Syndrome, which affects the circulation closing down small blood vessels to my extremities, making them numb and useless - especially in cold situations.” He also has Acid Reflux, which has been brought under some control recently but it had been scarring his lungs. He also has myopathy (muscle weakness due to the muscle fiber) and neuropathy (disorders of the nervous system).

“My neurologist labeled my condition as ‘Rare as Hen’s Teeth,'" Nickerson said.

“A physician can work an entire career without ever seeing a case of Scleroderma. The few new treatments are coming from research facilities like Johns Hopkins University and Dr. Frederick Wigley at the Scleroderma Center at Hopkins (in Baltimore, MD).” Nickerson says Wigley has 2,000 patients with the disease and that he only deals in research and patient care for Scleroderma. “It’s his belief that a treatment called I.V.I.G (intravenous immune globulin) in combination with a drug called CellCept (mycophenolate mofetil) is a strong assist to battle the immune system’s attack upon itself.”

And this is the treatment that costs as much as $35,000 per session.

“I.V.I.G. is given once a month, over two or three days, for eight to ten hours per day,” Nickerson says. “The pace of the infusion is based on the body’s response. It’s administered at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center, so that dealing with any complications is commonplace.” He says the treatment is the result of a pooled blood resource that’s obtained from more than 200 human donor offerings of plasma. It’s spun in a centrifuge and separated from the rest of the blood before it’s administered. “It’s hoped that the new replacement antibodies in the infusion will flood out the rogue antibodies that are presently fighting off the good antibodies."

The print auction will raise money to help pay for a third I.V.I.G. treatment for Nickerson after the first two treatments, which were initially approved by his insurance company, were retroactively denied. “Their justification was that this treatment is ‘experimental’ and research, and not covered,” Nickerson said. “Positive results have been obtained slowly, but encouragingly, including increased range of motion in my shoulders and hips, and skin softening on the surface, which allows some more joint mobility.”

Meatloaf in concert. Photograph by Steve NickersonHe feels that he owes his life to Dr. Wigley, who examined him again at the end of January. “He was impressed with the progress.” Nickerson is still pursuing the treatment and resigned to absorbing the cost. “The print auction is an attempt to defray the expenses for the moment,” he says.

Some of Nickerson’s old buddies have already told him they’re donating prints. He worked with David Turnley when they were both shooting for the Detroit Free Press. Turnley is donating his well-known photograph from the Gulf War of 1991 of a soldier in an evacuation helicopter weeping moments after learning that the soldier in the body bag next to him is a friend who was killed in action. Eugene Richards is donating prints. Rich Clarkson in Denver told Steve that he would help too. And John G. Morris in Paris, one of the original members of Magnum Photos, the former picture editor for The New York Times and Life magazine's correspondent in Paris for coverage of Liberation Day, donated a print of his photograph of a young German soldier.

Nickerson says that Los Angeles-based Associated Press photojournalist Nick Ut has donated a print of his famous photograph "The Terror Of War" that shows Kim Phuc, a little Vietnamese girl who was burned by napalm when her village was attacked by American fighter planes, fleeing the burning village with others, a picture that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1973. Nickerson also said that prints for the benefit auction are coming from members of the VII Photo Agency, from James Nachtwey, John Stanmeyer, Alexandra Boulat, and Gary Knight.

After donated prints started arriving from all corners of the world, Nickerson said, with his usual sense of humor, "Dennis made me promise that I won't die before the auction happens."

The audience at the auction will be both professional photographers and the general public. "Prints that appeal to the general public do well," Schroeder said. "The bigger the variety, the better. We want everyone who comes to the auction to find something they like."

“If you’re donating a signed picture we'd prefer a framed photo if you’re in the area, but if you’re sending one from out of town and don’t want to ship a framed picture, please send a matted photograph, in standard sizes, to Dennis Schroeder at the News,” Jaskol said.

To ship a print to Schroeder, please address it to:

Dennis Schroeder

Photography Department

The Rocky Mountain News

100 Gene Amole Way

Denver, CO, USA, 80204

+1.303.892.5382 (telephone)

For more information contact Schroeder at [email protected] or Jaskol at [email protected].

Related sidebar: The Best Pictures Are A Gift, by Jim Sheeler


John Francis Ficara's "Black Farmers In America" Now An Exhibit, Book


Black Farmers In America, John Ficara, book cover Photojournalist John Francis Ficara’sBlack Farmers in America” project, winner of the 2001 NPPA-Nikon Sabbatical Grant, has been published as a book and is an exhibit at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture in Baltimore as part of Black History Month.

Ficara, an NPPA member since 1996, will give a lecture and sign the book at the museum on February 11 at 1 p.m. “Black Farmers In America,” with an essay by Juan Williams, has been published by the University of Kentucky Press. The 10 x 11 book has more than 100 photographs reproduced in duotone over 144 pages. The museum exhibit opened in January and runs through April 30.

The NPPA-Nikon Sabbatical Grant is sponsored by Nikon Inc. and administered by NPPA. The $15,000 stipend to undertake or continue a project enables a working photojournalist to take a three-month leave of absence to pursue a documentary project illuminating “The Changing Face Of America.”

Photographs from Black Farmers In America by John Ficara“The (NPPA-Nikon Sabbatical) grant propelled the project,” Ficara wrote to News Photographer, “and it’s a success story to share with our members.” He started the project when he was a photographer at Newsweek and spent four years across America documenting black farmers as they struggled to overcome difficulties, farmers and their families who wanted nothing more than a chance to continue to live on and work on their land.

Ficara’s book says that black Americans made up 14 percent of all farmers in 1920 and worked 16 million acres of land, but that today black farmers are less than 1 percent of the nation’s farmers and are working on less than 3 million acres. Changing technology, globalization, an aging workforce, racist lending policies, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture itself each contributed, in some way, to the demise of the black farmer in America, the book says, creating “a staggering story of human loss: when each farm closed, those farmers, their spouses, children, grandchildren, and the people they hired, all had to leave a way of life that had existed in their families for generations.”

The winner of the 2006 NPPA-Nikon Sabbatical Grant was announced last week. Adriana Lopez Sanfeliu of Brooklyn, NY, and Barcelona, Spain, won for her ongoing documentary essay “Life On The Block,” an exploration “of the mental and physical boundaries on the lives of young Puerto Rican women who live in America.” Other past winners of the Grant can be seen here.


Andrea Bruce, Carol T. Powers, Win Top WHNPA 2006 Honors

Washington Post photographer Andrea Bruce was named “Photographer of the Year” and photojournalist Carol T. Powers earned top honors for “Political Photo of the Year" in the White House News Photographers Association's 2006 "Eyes of History" competition.

Bruce, who has worked for The Washington Post since 2001, was also “Photographer of the Year” in 2003 and 2005. Her winning portfolio this year included a picture story on the earthquake in Kashmir, Pakistan, as well as photographs from military funerals in Arlington National Cemetery.

“Political Photo of the Year” was awarded to freelance photojournalist Carol T. Powers for her image of a vulnerable House Majority Leader Tom Delay at a news conference on Capitol Hill.

The "Eyes Of History" television competition was judged earlier, with top honors going to Dai Baker of ITN as “Television Photographer of the Year” and Travis Fox of as “Television Editor of the Year.”

The top winners of the still and television contests will be honored at the annual “Eyes of History” Gala on May 6, 2006, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington. WHNPA president Susan Walsh says that the black-tie event celebrates all the winning photojournalists and the president of the United States. Nearly 1,000 guests, including government dignitaries and industry celebrities, also will attend.

The WHNPA and "The Eyes of History" are sponsored in part by Nikon Spirit Initiative, Tiffen/Domke, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Design.


Call For Entries: NPPA Women In Photojournalism Conference Photo Contest

 The 17th annual NPPA Women In Photojournalism Conference will be in St. Louis, MO, on September 15 through 17, and the conference co-chairs have issued a Call For Entries for the annual photography contest. The theme for this year's competition is "Living In The Moment."

WIPJ print advertisement"There are no categories, only your interpretation of the theme," contest orgnaizers said. "The photographs can represent your definition of 'Living In The Moment' through people, place, action, events, or milestones."

 The deadline for entering is July 15, 2006.

 The 7th annual NPPA Women In Photojournalism Conference, sponsored by Nikon Inc. and Avid, will be held at the Radisson Hotel & Suites in downtown St. Louis. Tahra Makinson-Sanders, director of photography for The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, CA, and Pat Holloway, of WDAF-TV in Independence, MO, are the conference co-chairs. Speakers for the conference and workshop leaders will be announced soon on the NPPA Web site and the conference's Web page.

 The contest's Call For Entries is early this year so that the contest organizers have plenty of time to judge the winners, notify winners, gather prints, and mount a gallery exhibit that will be part of the conference's opening night program. Photographers can enter the contest online via FTP submissions, or also by mailing in Macintosh-compatible CD-ROMs or ZIP discs.

 Complete instructions on how to enter are in an advertisement in the February issue of News Photographer maggazine as well as on the conference's Web site at There is an entry fee per photograph: $8 per picture for students, $12 per picture for NPPA professional members, and $17 per picture for non-members.

 For more information please contact Sanders at [email protected] or Holloway at [email protected].


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Online Ethics Survey Benefits Blackburn NPPA Scholarship Fund

 Brad Thompson, an assistant professor of mass communication at Linfield College in McMinnville, OR, has asked NPPA members and other photojournalists to take part in an online survey regarding journalism ethics. In return, Thompson says he will donate $1 for every survey that’s completed to the NPPA Reid Blackburn Scholarship Fund, up to a total of $1,000.

Blakburn was a photographer for the Vancouver Columbian who was killed 25 years ago in the eruption of Mount St. Helens. He was a graduate of Linfield College where Thompson teaches journalism. “Your participation in the survey will honor his memory and help the cause of photojournalism,” Thompson wrote to NPPA members.

Thompson also wrote, “Participants need to complete the survey as soon as possible. Naturally, your participation is entirely voluntary, and your anonymity is assured. Participation is not limited to NPPA members; indeed, I encourage you to ask your colleagues to fill out a survey, as I have no other way to reach photojournalists who are not members of NPPA.”

A college instructor for eight years, Thompson spent 16 years at newspapers before joining the ranks of higher education. He was a writer and editor for The Greenville News in Greenville, SC, the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Thompson has a doctorate in communications from the University of Colorado at Boulder, a masters degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Denver. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Bulgaria in 2001.

The survey will take less than 15 minutes to complete, Thompson says, and the results will be shared with the NPPA board of directors. For questions or comments before or after you take the survey, contact Thompson at [email protected].

The online survey is at


Deadline April 1 For Yarka Vendrinska Scholarship


Yarka VendrinskaThe family of Mark and Tanya Bohr, who established the Yarka Vendrinska Photojournalism Memorial Fund for their late daughter, Yarka, a photojournalist, are pleased to announce that they will be offering the fourth annual scholarship to emerging photojournalists who demonstrate financial need to continue their careers. The scholarship may be used to attend any of the Photojournalism workshops at The Maine Photographic Workshops. The award will be made officially on April 25, the anniversary of Yarka's birth.

The $2,000 scholarship is offered in the memory of Yarka, who was a passionate photographer, drawn to photograph people often ignored by society; the homeless, the aged, and the ill. She found great humanity in her subjects, and attempted to convey this through her imagery. She passed away on July 23, 2002, but her work continues to be presented on her Web site,

To read more about the Foundation, please visit

The application instructions say that the ideal applicant will not only be interested in photojournalism, but will have a dedication to defining and reporting social issues and conditions in the spirit of Yarka's work. The award will be based upon demonstrated need and an appropriate portfolio of recent work. Portfolios should be presented as Web pages, either public or hidden on an existing site. The application deadline is 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 1, 2006. Applications and supporting materials should be mailed to [email protected].


Adriana Lopez Sanfeliu Wins 2006 NPPA-Nikon Sabbatical Grant

By Donald R. Winslow

Adriana Lopez Sanfeliu, 2006 NPPA-Nikon Sabbatical Grant WinnerAdriana Lopez Sanfeliu, 29, a freelance photojournalist born in Barcelona who now splits her time between Spain and Brooklyn, NY, is the winner of the 2006 NPPA-Nikon Documentary Sabbatical Grant. Sanfeliu is a fresh new face on the documentary photography scene, having been involved with photography since she was a teenager but only pursuing it professionally for the last five years.

Her winning project is “Life on the Block,” an exploration of the mental and physical boundaries on the lives of young Puerto Rican woman who live in America. The award is funded by a grant from Nikon Inc. and is administered by the National Press Photographers Association.

"Two things really helped her entry stand out,” said Joe Elbert, one of the grant’s judges who picked Sanfeliu’s essay last weekend in Washington, DC. “Adriana has an emotional investment in her project, and the ‘sweat equity’ put her over the top. Too often, photographs are more about the photographer than their subjects, and Adriana hasn't fallen into this trap. Her images celebrate each subject, and you're struck with a series of wonderful short stories.” Elbert is assistant managing editor of photography for The Washington Post.

“When I got the message that I won, I could not believe it,” Sanfeliu said. “I feel very moved. It’s been a very lonely journey for me doing this work. I’ve had wonderful support from teachers along the way, but I feel that I really grew as a photographer with these photographs, and in understanding what documentary photography is to me and how I feel about it, and these people that I’ve been working with, these women in Harlem.”

Photo of Amy by Adriana Lopez SanfeliuThe grant comes with a $15,000 stipend so that working photographers can afford to take time to work on their essays unencumbered by daily assignments.

"This grant arrives at an important time," Sanfeliu said today. "I was weighing the financial concern of doing work of this nature. The award allows me the space to develop the work at a deeper level. I believe in the importance of this kind of work because it brings awareness to issues that are right in our back yard, the work bridges our communities. I'm thankful for these kinds of awards."

Three times since 2000 the grant has gone to a photojournalist based in Brooklyn: Sanfeliu this year, and Brenda Ann Kenneally in 2005 and 2000. “There’s some original air here,” Sanfeliu said of Brooklyn.

This year's winner earned degrees in art history and graphic design in Barcelona and came to New York in 2001 to dedicate herself to photography full-time and to study at the International Center of Photography. "Through a documentary photography class I found a subject that captured my heart, passion, eye, and mind," she said. "I began a long-term project about the challenging and shifting lives of Puerto Rican women living in Spanish Harlem. The inner landscape of family life, particularly the trials of women, has been a world that has long fascinated me. After a three-year journey time has allowed the clichés to slowly fade away and awareness to build about the complexity of these women's lives. My photography is a bridge that overcomes boundaries of culture and language."

About her choice to pursue documentary photography, Sanfeliu told News Photographer today, "Bearing witness to people's daily life helps to inform and educate, bringing awareness that stretches our collective mental boundaries, which in turn encourages and enables social change, growth, and wholeness."

Amy and Cope by Adriana Lopez SanfeliuThe NPPA-Nikon Sabbatical Grant competition was judged at The Washington Post by Elbert and by James Wallace, the photography director for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and Elizabeth Krist, an illustrations editor at National Geographic, under the guidance of Bill Luster, the NPPA-Nikon Sabbatical Grant chairperson. Luster is a photojournalist for the Louisville Courier-Journal and a past president of NPPA, and has volunteered for many years as the grant’s administrator.

"Adriana's photos showed that she had already made a significant investment in her proposed project," Wallace said. "It helped that she had a well-defined idea and a well-defined community to work in where she obviously felt comfortable. Because of this, she was able to demonstrate a level of intimacy with her subjects that was visible in only a handful of the other proposals."

Kenneally's 2005 NPPA-Nikon Sabbatical Grant was for “Legal Guardian: The Long Arm of the Law Reaches Inside America’s Most Vulnerable Families.” Kenneally was the first two-time winner of the honor. She also won in 2000 for “Money, Power, Respect: Real Life Stories from the Hip-Hop Generation,” about the legacy of drug use from generation to generation in her Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood.

Freelancer Jon Lowenstein won the honor in 2003 for “From Guerrero to Gringolandia and Back: Day Labor, Family, and the New Global Economy,” and Eugene Richards won in 2002 for “Stepping Through The Ashes,” a tribute to the people lost in the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11. John Ficara was the 2001 winner for his documentary work on the disappearance of black farmers in America, a study that began as a Newsweek assignment while he was on staff at the magazine. More about the past winners and their projects can be seen here.

Life On The Block, by Adriana Lopez Sanfeliu