“Fearful Futures”

We live in a period characterised by rises in regionalism, nationalism and authoritarianism; a time of great global uncertainty and anxiety, as well as inequality and iniquity which both reflects and drives political divide, and undermines international systems of cooperation. Clashes of identities, beliefs and ideologies contribute to a feeling that humanity is spiralling out of control; that our relationships with each other, as well as with the earth and environment, have never been worse.

Yet, as humans, we are not conditioned by fear alone, but instead by a remarkable ingenuity, and a capacity for hope, self-reflection, activism and action. This agency to improve our own lives, and those of others, is the theme of this year’s IAFOR Documentary Photography Award, inviting us to consider the ways in which we contextualise and process the past, reimagining ourselves, our relationships, and our environments; driving positive change and reclaiming the future as a time we look towards with hope, and even optimism.

We hope that the broad nature of this theme will encourage photographers to submit work that addresses these perspectives, and others that connect and arise.


How to Submit

The final submission deadline is midnight on September 12, 2018 (GMT). Changes can be made to submissions right up until the final deadline. Applicants must be less than 31 years of age on September 12, 2018 OR enrolled in part-time or full-time education on September 12, 2018 (proof may be required).

If a submission is incomplete or incorrectly entered, it will not be considered by the judges. Therefore, please ensure that you carefully follow the instructions listed on the submission requirements page before submitting your work.

The results of this year’s award will be announced at The Asian Conference on Media, Communication & Film (MediAsia), which will be held at the Toshi Center in Tokyo, Japan, from Tuesday, October 09 ​to Thursday, October 11, 2018.

In support of up-and-coming talent, the IAFOR Documentary Photography Award is free to enter.

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About the Award

The IAFOR Documentary Photography Award was launched by The International Academic Forum (IAFOR) in 2015 as an international photography award that seeks to promote and assist in the professional development of emerging documentary photographers and photojournalists. The award has benefitted since the outset from the expertise of an outstanding panel of internationally renowned photographers, including Dr Paul Lowe as the Founding Judge, and Ed Kashi, Simon Roberts, Simon Norfolk, Emma Bowkett, Monica Allende and Jocelyn Bain Hogg as Guest Judges. This year’s Guest Judges are Maria Teresa Salvati and Ziyah Gafic.

As an organisation, IAFOR’s mission is to promote international exchange, facilitate intercultural awareness, encourage interdisciplinary discussion, and generate and share new knowledge. In keeping with this mission, in appreciation of the great value of photography as a medium that can be shared across borders of language, culture and nation, and to influence and inform our academic work and programmes, the IAFOR Documentary Photography Award was launched as a competition that would help underline the importance of the organisation’s aims, and would promote and recognise best practice and excellence.

Now in its fourth year, the award has already been widely recognised by those in the industry and has been supported by World Press Photo, British Journal of Photography, Metro Imaging, MediaStorm, Think Tank Photo, University of the Arts London, RMIT University, The Centre for Documentary Practice, and the Medill School of Journalism.

For more information please contact Thaddeus Pope, Creative Director, IAFOR Documentary Photography Award (tpope@iafor.org).

Image by Kiana Hayeri | 2017 Grand Prize Winner

Thaddeus Pope

Posted by Thaddeus Pope

Thaddeus Pope is the Director of Visual Communications for The International Academic Forum (IAFOR) and the Creative Director of the IAFOR Documentary Photography Award.