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.

Emerging Lens 2023-2024

Climate, Pollution & Environmental Justice

Thank you to all those who have submitted applications for the 2023-2024 Emerging Lens Fellowship. Submissions are now closed. This years’ Emerging Lens theme is Climate, Pollution & Environmental Justice

While many have already taken the urgent call to action to fight climate change, pollution, and reduction of environmental resources, we invite emerging and early-career photographers to submit project proposals that build awareness for underrepresented communities and stories addressing climate change, pollution and environmental justice.


Brittany Greeson, 2020-21 Emerging Lens Fellow

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’re now accepting applications for the 2023-2024 Emerging Lens Fellowship. This year’s open call: Climate, Pollution, and Environmental Justice.

Our full guidelines are listed on the application page.

Megan Farmer, 2019 Emerging Lens fellow

Emerging Lens Fellows

Announcing our 2023-24 Selection Committee Co-Chairs

In line with our open call for submissions: Climate, Pollution, and Environmental Justice, we are pleased to introduce our inaugural Co-Chairs of the Selection Committee who will facilitate and guide this year’s fellowship program as leading documentary storytellers on climate issues. In addition to providing insights and subject matter expertise in the selection process, Co-Chairs will play a critical role as mentors providing foundational guidance to selected fellows to hone their unique skills and points of views.
James Delano Whitlow
James Whitlow Delano is a Japan-based documentary storyteller. His work has been published and exhibited throughout the world and led to four award-winning monograph photo books, including, “Empire: Impressions from China” and “Black Tsunami: Japan 2011”. Projects have been cited with the Alfred Eisenstadt Award (from Columbia University and Life Magazine), Leica’s Oskar Barnack, Picture of the Year International, NPPA Best of Photojournalism, PDN and others for work from China, Japan, Afghanistan and Burma (Myanmar), etc. In 2015, he founded EverydayClimateChange (ECC) Instagram feed, where photographers from 6 continents document global climate change on 7 continents. ECC documents how climate change is not happening “over there” but it is also happening right here and right now. ECC is not a western view on climate change because photographers come from the north, the south; the east and the west; and are as diverse as the cultures in which we were all raised. Delano is a grantee of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
Smita Sharma
Smita Sharma is a Delhi based photojournalist and visual storyteller whose work centres the traumatised and forgotten voices of those subjected to human rights abuses, especially victims of sex crimes, human trafficking and environmental issues in the Global South. Smita is a TED fellow, TED Speaker and an IWMF reporting fellow. For Stolen Lives, her in-depth work documenting sex trafficking in India and Bangladesh for National Geographic Magazine, she received the Amnesty International Media award and the Fetisov Journalism Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting. Smita also received the Indian Of The Year award, Exceptional Women of Excellence award, Las Fotos Advocacy award and One World Media UK award. Her work has been published in various places like National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times, WSJ, TIME and exhibited globally including at the UN Headquarters in New York. Smita is actively engaged in public speaking, victim advocacy and international public education. More recently, Smita’s documentation over a two-year period of farmer stories, crop burning, culture, scientific innovations and other cultural and environmental challenges in North Western India for the Nature Conservancy was nominated for the 2023 Covering Climate Now Journalism Awards.

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.