ART WORKS Projects (AWP) is pleased to announce its Open Call for the 2017 Annual Emerging Lens Mentorship program. The 2017 competition is open to photographers based in the United States working on human rights and social justice. The winning entrant will receive a stipend to expand and/or finish a project already in production. The final project will be exhibited in June 2017 at the ART WORKS Projects Chicago Studio Gallery. CLICK HERE TO SEE LAST YEAR’S WINNER.



Emerging Lens is AWP’s annual, juried photography competition for photographers age 18 to 27 whose work focuses on social justice and human rights. The program, which changes geographical focus annually, is currently in its third year. For the 2017 competition, AWP is seeking photographers based in the United States.


Supporting upcoming documentary photographers and filmmakers through mentoring and providing a platform for their work is an integral part of AWP’s mission. Through the Emerging Lens program, AWP hopes to encourage the rising generation of photojournalists to use the power of their lenses to address human rights and social justice issues.



This opportunity is open to all photographers age 18 to 27 old (students, professionals, and others) currently based in the United States. The closing submission date is March 4, 2017 MIDNIGHT CST.
The selected winner will receive:


  • An exhibition of their work in June 2017 at the AWP Chicago Studio Gallery.
  • Mentorship from the AWP team and the Emerging Lens jury.
  • A $2,000 stipend, which can be used at the winner’s discretion to finish the work.
  • Travel to Chicago from a location within the United States for the opening launch and a speaking event.


Please note: While winners may be based anywhere in the United States, the winner is expected to be part of the printing, installation, and opening process in Chicago.



The winner will be selected based on three criteria:


  • Quality of photography and written essay submission
  • Deep knowledge and curiosity about the selected human rights and/or social justice topic
  • References that can indicate the entrant’s commitment to documentary photography



The Open Call requires submission of a project proposal and portfolio of an ongoing photography project, each equally weighted. Entrants must also provide contact information (email and phone number) from two personal or professional colleagues, advisors, teachers, employers, or mentors. At least one reference must be able to speak to your experience as a photographer. References do not need be photography instructors or photo editors. AWP expects to announce the selected winner on or about March 18. The exhibition will open in June 2017.




Questions? Please contact Annalise Taylor at

2017 Jury Members include:

Juan Arredondo
Jessie DeWitt
Ron Haviv
Joshua Lott
Amanda Rivkin


As part of the Emerging Lens program, the winning photographer will receive mentoring and guidance from members of the Emerging Lens jury and the AWP team.