emerging lens

Emerging Lens is ART WORKS Projects’ signature program that awards project support, unrestricted grants, and mentorship to emerging photographers working to document social justice and human rights issues in their own backyards and around the world.

A Network of Support

The mission of Emerging Lens is to create a network of support for emerging photographers in hopes of creating greater accessibility to the field while making their work and the issues they highlight visible through public exhibitions in spaces nontraditional for documentary photography.

Program Details

Each year, AWP selects a class of fellows who will work toward completing a project to be exhibited in partnership with community organizations, arts institutions, and/or academic centers.

Competitive applicants are new to the field of photography and would benefit personally and professionally from a mentorship with ART WORKS Projects. Their work addresses social justice and/or human rights in a manner that is thoughtful, ethical, and community-centered.

Projects completed for this fellowship will center on fresh narratives and first-person storytelling regarding underrepresented communities with whom the fellows and AWP will collaborate.

$5,000 Fellowship

Receive a $5,000 unrestricted fellowship compensation for a 2 month project commitment to complete an ongoing or new body of work.

Additional Funding Opportunities

The fellowship includes an opportunity to apply for partial to full financial support for realization of your project, including travel expenses, equipment rental, etc.


Fellows are supported by AWP staff; AWP creative collaborators, including established photojournalists, photo editors, curators, etc.; and the cohort of former Emerging Lens fellows. Current and past mentors are listed below.


The fellowship includes an exhibition of your work with programming opportunities and the possibility of exhibition travel.

Copyrights & Publishing

All copyrights remain with the fellow and AWP receives first right to publish the work. Afterwards, the fellow is encouraged to place the piece with a media outlet of their choosing.

How to Apply

Your submitted project proposal should be a well-developed idea or currently in-progress work addressing an issue that is relevant, timely, and applicable to AWP’s mission.

We typically accept applications for the Emerging Lens fellowship beginning in July each year.

Megan Farmer, 2019 Emerging Lens fellow

Emerging Lens Recipients

2022 Mentors

The Emerging Lens fellowship is strengthened by our mentors who provide foundational guidance to fellows to hone their unique skills and points of views. We are grateful for the committment of these leaders in documentary photography.

James Estrin

James Estrin is a senior staff photographer and writer for the New York Times. He was also a founder and co-editor of Lens, the Times’s photography blog. James started at the Times in 1992 and was part of a Pulitzer Prize winning team in 2001. He is also an adjunct professor at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York

James Estrin wears a blue shirt and has a brown beard
Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel

Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel is a photo editor at National Geographic, where she edited many of the stories in the magazine’s 2019 series highlighting women and the 2018 series on race and diversity. She has worked on visual media and fine art projects that probe socio-political issues for more than 15 years.

Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel smiles and wears a green shirt
Steven Rubin

Steven Rubin is a Professor of Art at Penn State University. He has worked for more than twenty years as a freelance photojournalist and documentary photographer, traveling on assignment around the world. His photographs have been published in the New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Time, Newsweek and The Village Voice, and internationally in Stern, GEO, Focus, L’Express and The London Independent Magazine. 

Steven Rubin is wearing glasses and a tan shirt
Marcel Saba

Marcel Saba is the founder and director of Redux Pictures, an award-winning New York City- based, commercial and editorial photo agency with photographers located around the world. As a global leader in photography, Redux pictures represents the photo collections of the New York Times Archives, and is partnered with over 25 world-renowned photo collections. Saba has served on the board of the W. Eugene Smith Foundation, and as faculty member of the International Center of Photography.

Marcel Saba smiles and wears a black shirt

2022-23 Selection Committee

Iván Arenas

Associate Director, Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at UIC

Shannon Bartlett

Chief Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Officer, National Geographic

James Estrin

NYTimes staff photographer; co-founder/editor, NYTimes Lens blog

Peter Fitzpatrick

Special Advisor, Community Engagement in the Office of the Provost, Columbia College; Co-Founder, Eyes on Main Street Festival

Emmanual Guillen Lozano

Documentary Photographer and Editor

Fergal McCarthy

Peace Programs Manager, Rotary International

Smita Sharma

Photojournalist, TED Fellow, and IWMF Reporting Fellow

Wendy Wei

Fellow, People Matter

Yukiko Yamagata

Strategic Consultant

emerging lens sponsors

Henry Nias Foundation
Howard R. Conant, Jr.