Ends on January 31, 2018

Application Details: Submissions open January 1, 2018. 
Application Open: January 1, 2018 – January 31, 2018, midnight PST
CatchLight Fellows Announced:  April 2, 2018

CatchLight exists because we believe in the power of visual storytelling to drive social change. In an increasingly divided landscape, there has never been a better time to bind our world together with empathy and compassion. A CatchLight Fellowship serves as an incubator — a space to receive financial support, unlock individual potential, and leverage partnerships. We are seeking storytellers who use art as a catalyst to spark new conversations, and whose work is poised to be significantly amplified by collaboration, mentorship, and networking.

A CatchLight Fellowship is awarded for life. Beyond initial support with their project, Fellows will join a “brain trust” of advisors and creative thought leaders all dedicated to igniting social growth. The Fellowship is designed to do more than just give; we have a long-term vision that builds knowledge and community as a development tool for a better society.

In 2017 CatchLight launched its inaugural fellowship program, honoring three storytellers who demonstrated excellence in the use of photography. Each fellow received an award of $30,000 and entered a partnership with an established media partner to collaborate on a year-long project focused on driving social change.

Continuing our commitment to impactful storytelling, the 2018 CatchLight Fellowship will once again offer three awards of $30,000. But this year, we are encouraging participants to push the boundaries in new and exciting ways. Proposals must represent the highest quality of art, be socially focused, and present innovative distribution ideas. We welcome a wide variety of topics, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, religion, nationality, health, democracy, climate, and immigration. As always, we invite and encourage a broad diversity in applicants, ideas, and creative mediums.

The Fellowships
Fellowship for Social Leadership
This Fellowship seeks to recognize individuals who demonstrate both excellence in their personal art and leadership in their community and/or field; someone who actively creates opportunities for photographers around them by mentoring, teaching, or promotion of their work. We believe this type of leadership is vital for broadening access to new talent and new perspectives, creating global benefit. We are seeking remarkable social leadership, coupled with a generosity ingenuity that pulls others forward, even as they advance.

This Fellowship will incubate the individual’s leadership abilities, bringing resources to bear and spotlighting the power of individual action for growth and change. The nature of the awarded fellow’s work will determine the appropriate model for distribution partnerships.

Fellowship for California: Status Update on the California Dream
“Like the rest of America, California is unformed, innovative, ahistorical, hedonistic, acquisitive, and energetic — only more so.” — Wallace Stegner

Everything in California is big, including dreams and challenges. How do we visualize the dream that landed so many here, in one of the most innovative and expensive places in America? California is America’s laboratory for the fiscal and political pressures shaping our lives, and a rapidly changing future. CatchLight will identify a California-focused photographer who demonstrates work that broadly reflects life in California today — interpretations can show the impact on education, health, environment, economics, or inclusive democracy, from perspectives including but not limited to immigration, gender, race and identity.

CALmatters is a nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state capital works and why it matters. CALmatters is the largest news bureau focused on California statewide policies and politics, specifically education, environment, economy, and health and welfare. They access print media through partnerships with  130+ newspapers and websites with large reach across the state.

Fellowship for Social Change: Open
The 3rd Catchlight Fellowship is open to lens-based artists working on a global social justice issue. This fellowship is aimed at the discovery and communication of issues not only of today, but of tomorrow — stories we don’t know about yet, or that we are revisiting through an entirely new lens.

We are seeking to award visual storytellers whose work drives change around social issues they are passionate about; there are no issues or methodologies that CatchLight prioritizes over others. Applicants will choose their own themes, with unique and compelling ways of creation and distribution.

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting will partner on this fellowship addressing a critical under-reported global topic. Pulitzer Center staff will work with CatchLight and the fellow to maximize the project’s impact across new and traditional platforms, as well as through the Center's extensive network of educational partners.

Eligibility: We are looking for exceptional talent, commitment to effective distribution and a drive to define impact on a key issue of the photographer’s choosing. The Fellowship is open to all people of all ages and all countries who work with visual communication, including videographers and photographers working with lens-led technology for the purposes of visual storytelling, and a specific commitment to effecting change. Applicants may work in a broad range of visual formats including photography, video, audio, motion or VR.

Applicants must be working independently and business entities and institutions will not be eligible. CatchLight will look favorably on applicants who demonstrate willingness to work collaboratively with distribution and impact partners, including media organizations and advocacy experts, to develop their projects and maximize the reach of the work.

Application: The application portal opens on January 1st and the deadline to apply is January 31st. The CatchLight Fellowship pool will be formed by both nomination and open call. Application includes work samples, professional references, a written proposal with the scope of project, and potential ideas for partnerships and distribution avenues that best fit the proposal. Applicants should state how they plan to use the available support and resources to oversee a defined outcome. Applications will be reviewed and shortlisted by a geographically and professionally diverse jury. There is no fee to apply.

Rules and Guidelines
Applicants must submit one (1) application for themselves only.
Applicants may submit photographs or other visual formats such as audio, motion or VR.


  • All applications must be completed in English.

  • Applicants will submit 20-25 still images, or 15 minutes or less of audio/motion or VR from a previous piece of work. Images will be 72DPI, 1200 longest edge.

  • One (1) project statement of 100 words or less summarizing the project.

  • One (1) proposal of no more than 500 words outlining:

    • The work to be pursued in the course of a 12-month Fellowship, how it builds on past work, and the relevance of this Fellowship in furthering the production and reach of the work. CatchLight may grant exceptions to the timeline where warranted.

    • Why this work exemplifies innovative distribution to engage audiences in new and different ways.

    • How this work demonstrates measurable social awareness and engagement.

  • One (1) proposal of 300 words or less outlining distribution plan.

  • Three (3) professional references with contact information.

  • Adherence to the ethical standards as described below.

  • Personal contact information, portfolio links, CV.

  • If the applicant finds these conditions inappropriate for the nature of the work please contact CatchLight directly for advice on making a successful application.

Winners Announced
Shortlist will be produced in late February 2018 and those included will be contacted personally. Fellows will be contacted in mid-March 2018; the CatchLight Fellowship will be formally announced on April 2, 2018.

Fellowship Timelines can be thought of in two ways:

  • In building the Fellowship community, we will select a new cohort of Fellows each year, with agreed upon timelines for various projects, understanding that some work may not adhere to the boundaries of 12 months and may be shorter, or longer.

  • A CatchLight Fellowship is awarded for life. Fellows will be encouraged to share expertise within the CatchLight community beyond the expiry of the grant period, and CatchLight hopes that Fellows will offer mentorship and seek mentorship within the community throughout their lives. CatchLight and CatchLight Fellows may refer to any past awardee as a current CatchLight Fellow. Fellows are required to reference their CatchLight Fellowship in bios and resumés listing achievements and current positions.

Deliverables Upon Completion

Participation: Fellows will be in attendance at the annual series of San Francisco-based events in November 2018, including a celebration and speaking engagement designed to promote the Fellowship project, provide live community engagement and raise awareness for the relevant social issues.

Prints and other media: The Fellow will be required to deliver museum quality photographic prints, digital imagery, and other relevant work upon completion of the project for archival storage and CatchLight programming. CatchLight may request permission for the sale of images under mutually agreed upon conditions for the purpose of benefiting the future reach of the CatchLight mission and enhancing the cohort.

Impact: Fellows will have worked with CatchLight to identify appropriate metrics to define measurable social impact.

Ethical Standards: Fellows are required to adhere to the highest ethical standards in the preparation and presentation of any work produced under CatchLight auspices. CatchLight reserves the right to revoke the Fellowship and reclaim all funds if a project is found to deliberately present misleading information or if anyone associated with the work has been coerced into participation or if financial inducements have been offered above reasonable expenses.

Media and Distribution: CatchLight will collaborate with each Fellow around social media responsibilities, distribution intentions, partnership development, communications, publicity and general support.

Rights: The Fellows will retain copyright in all work submitted to CatchLight and produced in the course of the awarded fellowship. CatchLight and designated partners will have non-exclusive rights to publish materials from the awarded project, including for the purpose of promoting CatchLight and the Fellowship, with appropriate credit always given to the owner.

Amount of Fellowship: A grant of $30,000 in funding during the 12-month period. CatchLight will also work to include other resources including media exposure and partnerships to assist in the production and impact of a well-rounded body of work over the course of the fellowship year. The cash grant will be issued 70% on approval, 15% on approval of mid-project review in November 2018, and 15% upon completion.

Where can I find out more? Write us at hi@catchlight.io