Skip to content

2019 Michael P. Smith Fund For Documentary Photography Grant Guidelines

The Michael P. Smith Fund for Documentary Photography (2019)

Funeral of Emile Victor Clay © The Historic New Orleans Collection

Funeral of Emile Victor Clay, image by Michael P. Smith, 1996 © The Historic New Orleans Collection


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 but the photographers main residence must be within these 5 states.

Finalists must provide proof of residency (government issued ID and another form stating residency for 1 year prior (may be utility, phone bill, and another approved source).


  • FIRST PLACE: $3,000 cash award | Featured exhibition in the NOPA Gallery | online exhibition permanently archived on the NOPA website
  • 2nd and 3rd place finalists will receive online exhibitions on the NOPA site.


  • May 3 – Open Call For Submissions
  • May 28 – Online submissions deadline @ 11:59 PM CST
  • June 12th : Winners announced


Our 2019 Juror is Laura Beltrán Villamizar , NPR Projects Picture Editor

Laura Beltrán Villamizar is a photography editor and educator born in Bogotá, Colombia.

She is the Projects Picture Editor for NPR, working with the organization’s growing efforts to shape their enterprise visual journalism. She is also the founder of Native. A non-profit  platform dedicated to the promotion and development of female and visual journalists from under-represented regions and communities. Laura currently leads workshops on intersectionality, racial imagery and non-western storytelling. She has also written extensively on localized, non-western visual journalism and photography for Nieman Reports at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism of Harvard University.

Before founding Native, she worked at the World Press Photo Foundation, where she led educational programs in Latin America and co-produced the yearly Joop Swart Masterclass in Amsterdam.

Prior to joining World Press Photo, she was Associate Photo Editor for Revolve Magazine where she oversaw long-term features, international commissions for print and online, and curated the magazine’s emphasis on visual storytelling.

Laura has served on the jury for The Catchlight Fellowship 2018, The FENCE at Photoville in 2018, and The Sinchi Photography Competition for Indigenous and Native Photographers 2017. She won first prize for NPPA’s quarterly picture editing prize in Q3 of and second place in Q2 of 2018.

She was also selected for the Alexia’s Foundation Seminar: “Latin America: Stories That Drive Change” (Miami, 2019). Laura currently lives and works in Washington, D.C.

Click here ror a list of past MPS winners


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 2019 grant recipient will be announced on June 12, 2019.  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 May 1, 2019).
  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 2019 MPS Fund Grant winner agrees to submit a final written report by August 31, 2020 detailing the work completed during the grant period.


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


If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Zack Smith, Grants coordinator,  New Orleans Photo at

*due to the jurying process NOPA can ONLY accept entries via Entry Thingy. No other submission methods will be accepted.

If you have any technical questions about entering, please email