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CDS / Honickman First Book Prize Competition

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First Book Prize Overview

The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University and The Honickman Foundation (THF), based in Philadelphia, co-sponsor this prestigious biennial prize for American photographers. The only prize of its kind, the CDS / Honickman First Book Prize competition is open to American photographers of any age who have never published a book-length work and who use their cameras for creative exploration, whether it be of places, people, or communities; of the natural or social world; of beauty at large or the lack of it; of objective or subjective realities. The prize will honor work that is visually compelling, that bears witness, and that has integrity of purpose.

Renowned photographer and writer Robert Adams was the prize’s inaugural judge. Maria Morris Hambourg, Curator in Charge of the Department of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, judged the second biennial competition. The judge for the third competition (2006) was Robert Frank, one of America’s most important and influential photographers. Mary Ellen Mark will be the judge of the fourth prize competition in fall 2008. The winning photographer receives a grant of $3,000, publication of a book of photography, and inclusion in an exhibition of prizewinners. The judge also writes the introduction for the book, which will be published by Duke University Press in association with CDS Books of the Center for Documentary Studies.

American photographers who are pursuing work of creative or social importance have too few opportunities for support and recognition. This is especially true when photographers are engaged in personal or in-depth projects that do not have direct commercial appeal. While there are other sources for grants and fellowships in photography, the chance to see a body of work in print, as a coherent book-length work, is rare. Concerned about this problem and recognizing their shared interests, CDS and THF came together to create this important book-publication prize.

Submissions for the next competition, following guidelines format, must be postmarked between June 9 and September 5, 2008.

The winning photographer will be announced publicly in January 2009. The book will be published in fall 2009.