How the Alexia Foundation Chooses Grant Winners

From Sarah Blesner’s Alexia grant-winning story in 2017: Students from School #18 perform a show at the local theater in Sergiyev Posad, Russia, 15 Dec 2016. The show promotes the cadet school at School #18. Sarah Blesener/Alexia Foundation

The Alexia Foundation is once again accepting applications for its prestigious photography grants. For advice on how to apply, don’t miss Alexia Chair and former Oregonian photo editor Mike Davisinsightful article that can help all manner of applications:

“There are four broad aspects, questions, really, that you have to satisfy in the judges’ minds, hearts and eyes: Is the subject engaging? Can you do it? How are you going to do the project? What will happen because of your project?”

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Happy New Year and Welcome to Oregon Focus!

Photography can be a lonely business, and a lonely art.

When I was a full-time photographer, I often felt like a lone wolf, moving from assignment to assignment, shoot to shoot, without a connection to the audience for my work and without the feedback from clients I needed to improve. Too often I heard “We love it; just give us more,” which feels nice, but impedes growth. And without detailed knowledge of the creative strategy that led up to the assignment, and without the foresight of all the different ways my work would be used, I was at a disadvantage as went out into the field.
When I became the photo editor for the international humanitarian agency Mercy Corps, each day some of the most talented photographers from around the world reached out to be hired. I tried my best to respond to everyone, but I found myself giving more detailed feedback — and assignments — to one of two groups: not the photographers who only showed their recent work with only their own vision; but instead, the photographers who had researched my organization and its mission, its visual style, its programming and the locations where we worked around the world, and tailored their pitches accordingly. In a deeper sense, I sought out people who wanted to work together in a meaningful way to help the world.

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