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The CDS Documentary Essay Prize

Publish Date: Feb 10, 2016

Deadline: Feb 23, 2016

The CDS Documentary Essay Prize

The CDS Documentary Essay Prize honors the best in documentary photography and writing in alternating years: one year, photos; one year, writing. The focus is on current or recently completed work (within the last two years) from a long-term project—fifteen images; fifteen to twenty pages of writing.

The upcoming prize competition will be for photography. The winner of the competition will receive $3,000 and will have his or her work featured in Document, a periodical published by the Center for Documentary Studies, as well as on the Center’s website. The winner’s work will also be placed in the Archive of Documentary Arts at the Rubenstein Library, Duke University.

The inaugural 2013 prize, for writing, was awarded to Irish writer Rachel Andrews for “A New Wilderness at the Maze,” her essay on the meaning of the demolition of Ireland’s infamous Maze prison.

The 2014 prize, for photography, was given to Iveta Vaivode for “Somewhere on a Disappearing Path,” in which she explores the rural landscape and, perhaps, the last inhabitants, of Pilcene, Latvia, to create a new family album, one full of images of memories she’s imagined.

Submissions for the CDS Documentary Essay Prize in Photography will be accepted from November 2, 2015, to February 16, 2016.  Deadline extended to February 23.

How to Enter

Applicants upload work and submit payment online to http://dukearts.slideroom.com from November 2, 2015, to February 16, 2016. Deadline extended to February 23. We do not accept submissions through postal services or email.

You will be asked to provide the following:

  • 15 film or digital photographs in JPEG format. SlideRoom will prompt you to label scans with title, year, and original format (for example, 35mm, 4x5, or 8x10).


  • 1-page statement in pdf format
    Please provide context for the photographic essay you are submitting, including the duration of your project and whether it is completed or ongoing (at least 5 of the photographs submitted from a long-term project should have been made in the last two years). Describe your intentions for the work. Also, if some of your images have been published together in essay form, please include information about where and when they appeared, and how the essay as submitted for the competition is different (or not).

  • 1-page biography or C.V. in pdf format
  • $35 entry fee


Application materials will be accepted between November 2, 2015, to
February 16, 2016. Deadline extended to February 23. (See note on multiple entries under FAQ’s.)  

The winner will be publicly announced in June 2016.

This opportunity has expired. It was originally published here:


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