Michael P. Smith Fund For Documentary Photography Grant Guidelines


“The End of the Parade” photograph by Michael P. Smith © The Historic New Orleans Collection


The Michael P. Smith Fund for Documentary Photography (MPS Fund) was created by the New Orleans Photo Alliance (NOPA) to honor the life and work of Michael P. Smith, one of New Orleans’ most legendary and beloved documentary photographers. The MPS Fund awards cash prizes and exhibition opportunities to Gulf Coast photographers whose work combines artistic excellence and a sustained commitment to a cultural documentary project.


Both emerging and established photographers residing in the Gulf Coast states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida are eligible to apply for the MPS Fund’s annual grants. The subject matter for the proposed project is not limited to the Gulf Coast geographic region.


  • FIRST PLACE: $3,000 cash award | Summer 2018 exhibition in the NOPA Gallery | online exhibition permanently archived on the NOPA website
  • SECOND PLACE: $1,500 cash award | online exhibition permanently archived on the NOPA website
  • THIRD PLACE: $500 cash award | online exhibition permanently archived on the NOPA website


  • March 1: Juror announced
  • March 10: online submissions opens
  • April 30: online submissions deadline @ 11:59 PM CST
  • May 31: winners announced



Olivier C. Laurent is Editor of Lightbox, TIME’s photography website, which provides a window into the process of how great photographs are made, and draws attention to inspiring projects and groundbreaking work by established masters and new pioneers.

Previously, he was the Associate Editor for British Journal of Photography, the world’s longest running photography magazine established in 1854, and the Editor of FLTR, the world’s first weekly magazine on smartphone photography. Born in France in 1980, he graduated from the American University of Paris in 2005 and immediately moved to London to pursue a career in journalism, starting in the financial sector on publications such as Dealing With Technology and Post Magazine, before joining British Journal of Photography in 2008.

He has sat on the juries of the Visa pour l’Image Web Documentary Award, the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Prize, the FotoEvidence First Photobook Award, the Getty Images Grants for Editorial, the Visa d’Or News and Features, Photoreporter Festival, LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards, and World Press Photo’s Joop Swart Masterclass. 


The main criteria for selection will be the strength of the applicant’s portfolio and a written project statement (maximum of 530 words). The portfolio and statement should demonstrate the applicant’s commitment to a cultural documentary project.


If more than 100 applications are submitted, a committee of independent curators and photographers will prescreen all submissions and select 100 portfolios to present to the juror. 

The MPS Fund 2017 grant recipient will be announced on May 31, 2017.  The portfolios of the first, second, and third place winners will be featured on the New Orleans Photo Alliance’s website. 


  1. A portfolio of 20 to 25 images. These images can originate in any format, but you must submit them digitally via the online application process (opens February 20, 2017).
  2. Each image file must be in jpeg format at 150 dpi and 1200 pixels on the long side. Save your images at the highest setting available (usually 10 or 12). Name your files with your last name, then first name and a title. Use an underscore to separate the names and title. At the end of the file name, add sequence numbers starting with 01. Example: Doe_Jane_The Farm_01.jpg, Doe_Jane_The Farm_02.jpg, Doe_Jane_The Farm_03.jpg. You must add a short caption or descriptive information as well as the year that you created the image. Enter and upload each image file and its accompanying information one at a time. After you have uploaded all of the files, you will be able to review and rearrange the sequence of your portfolio.
  3. A concise description of your work (2-4 sentences that could summarize your project), limited to 260 characters maximum, which the juror will see alongside your portfolio. The ‘description of work’ is not the project statement.
  4. A written project statement of not more than 530 words, explaining your project’s scope and significance. Please include your plans on how you would use the grant. The best practice is to write your statement beforehand, and then copy and paste your text into the ‘Statement’ box.
  5. A biography or resumé/CV of not more than 530 words, describing awards, publications and other career highlights. The best practice is to write your resumé beforehand, and then copy and paste your text into the ‘resumé’ box.
  6. A $25 application fee will be directed through PayPal immediately after you have uploaded your application.


By applying for a grant from the Michael P. Smith Fund for Documentary Photography, you agree to accept the following rules:

The New Orleans Photo Alliance (NOPA) reserves the right to reject incomplete or improperly submitted applications.

Staff or Board Members of NOPA are not eligible to submit applications.

You acknowledge that you are the sole owner and author of the photographs submitted with your application.

You allow NOPA to feature your work without charge in print and on the web, in conjunction with promotion of the MPS Fund and its grant program. NOPA recognizes your copyright for each of the images that you submitted with your application and agrees to provide the proper copyright notice on the NOPA website and in all NOPA press releases and related print materials. Upon request, the grant recipient agrees to supply a high-resolution image suitable for publication by the media.

You permit NOPA to add your email and physical mailing addresses to the NOPA mailing list, which is private and will not be shared with any individuals or organizations.

The winner is asked to donate 2 prints to NOPA, selecting from work submitted for the award and/or work created after having received the award. NOPA will archive these prints in its permanent collection and may exhibit them in the future.

The 2017 MPS Fund Grant winner agrees to submit a final written report by May 15 2018, detailing the work completed during the grant period.


In order to submit your application, you will first need to create an Entry Thingy account. Click the following  link to open or create an account: Entry Thingy

Application fee is $25.
Application fee + NOPA membership: $55.


If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Amy Williams, New Orleans Photo Alliance executive director, at adwilliams@neworleansphotoalliance.org.

DOWNLOAD a printable version of the MPS Fund 2017 Grant Guidelines here: MPSFUND2017_GUIDELINES