Vital Impacts, the non-profit organization started by photojournalist Ami Vitale, supports grassroots conservation organizations as well as the photographers and artists who work to tell these critical environmental stories. The Vital Impacts Environmental Photography Grant open call currently on Picter will support the work of two photojournalists with $20,000 grants each, and, offer a 12 month mentorship to 50 applicants. We spoke with founder Ami Vitale about this amazing opportunity. Read on for our interview with Ami, and to learn more about these amazing opportunities.
How long has Vital Impacts been awarding grants? Where did the idea come from to start this initiative?
These are our first grants and we could not be any more excited to launch them! We know how rare it is to be given the opportunity to work on long term projects, especially as it relates to the environment. Yet, time is critical in telling these stories and there is an urgency to share powerful stories now. The science is clear. The health and prosperity of humanity is directly tied with the state of our environment. Our grants are designed to give recipients funding, mentoring and time to tell the most important stories of our lifetime.
The idea has been something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. As a photographer working in the environmental space, I know how difficult it is to get the support and funding to tell these stories over time. I want to encourage and create opportunities for concerned, thoughtful photographers who have stories to tell. I also believe that who tells the stories and who gets to take the photos matters. Which images are included, what’s emphasized and what’s ignored depend on the narrators themselves. It is time that we create more support for local, in depth photographic projects that relate to the environment of this planet.
In addition to the 2 winning Grant recipients, Vital Impacts will be offering a mentorship program to the top 50 applicants for the Vital Impacts Environmental Grant. Participants will take part in a series of 12 classes with leading environmental and photographic figures. This sounds like a pretty incredible opportunity for those who do not receive the top prizes, can you give us any ideas about who the mentors will be for these classes and how it will be structured?
Recipients of the mentorship can expect inspiring conversations each month with environmental activists and storytellers. Speakers will include photographers, environmentalists and photo editors. We also know how important it is to have a community to learn from, to share ideas and to have support from. We will have a series of zoom conversations each month and the mentees will also share their work throughout the year to get guidance and support from the mentors. We know how hard it is to publish work so we will also be offering support on how to get the work into the world once it is completed.
We will be announcing the mentors in May.
Who will review applications? How will that process work?
Judging will occur in two passes. A larger group of environmental and photographic experts will review all of the applications and assign them a rating. The top 50 applicants from this process will become part of our mentorship program.
In the second phase, a group of independent judges will review the top applications. In a remote day session, they will review the photographs alongside with the proposals and make a determination as to who will receive the two $20,000 grants.
We will reveal the judges after we close the call for entries so as not to influence anyone’s application.
Anything else you would like our readers to know about this opportunity?
Apply! Even if you don’t get the $20,000 grants, the mentorship program will be out of this world and there are 50 spots available. (Plus writing proposals is a great way to learn how to articulate what your story is about.)