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Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize Seeks Applicants

Posted by Center for Documentary Studies ; Posted on 
Film; Funding / Grants; Literary; Visual - DEADLINE :  
Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize Seeks Applicants



The Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor prize of $10,000 is given annually by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University to support documentary artists, working alone or in teams, who are involved in extended, on-going fieldwork projects that rely on and exploit the interplay of words and images.

Deadline:  May 15, 2019 before midnight (EST).

First announced in 1990, the Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize was created by the Center for Documentary Studies to encourage collaboration between documentary writers and photographers in the tradition of the acclaimed photographer Dorothea Lange and writer and social scientist Paul Taylor. In 1941 Lange and Taylor published An American Exodus, a book that renders human experience eloquently in text and images and remains a seminal work in documentary studies. In 2011, in recognition of the changing environment in which documentary artists conduct their work, we reframed the prize guidelines to allow single artists to apply. In part, this new approach to the prize was inspired by the Center for Documentary Studies’ commitment to the Master of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts at Duke University, which brings together two forms of artistic activity—the documentary approach and experimental production in analog, digital, and computational media.

Competitive applicants to this prize have a point of view derived from an in-depth understanding of place, history, and the current situation, in concert with a personal relationship to the proposed work. Ultimately, their commitment is to use documentary expression to motivate the thinking and reflection of others.

The Lange-Taylor Prize is intended for the advancement of an ongoing fieldwork project that fully exploits, in the tradition of Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor’s important work, the relationship of words and images in the powerful, persuasive representation of a subject. The focus is on the strength, breadth, and nuance of the work as an extended narrative and meditation. The prize is not awarded for completed projects or to support the production of a book, exhibit, website, or other outcomes.

All entries should have one thing in common: evidence that they were created with reliance on documentary methods—research and interviews—and immersive, long-term fieldwork. We are interested in work that directs its gaze outward, that curiously engages with the world, and that is, as former CDS director Tom Rankin describes, “derived from an in-depth understanding of place, history, and the current situation, in concert with a personal relationship to the proposed work.”

A panel of writers, editors, and documentary artists will judge. In addition to the cash award, the winner’s work will also be published in the Center for Documentary Studies’ online magazine and placed in the Archive of Documentary Arts at the Rubenstein Library at Duke University.

How to Submit
Using the online submission system, submit up to 19 images, 15 pages of double-spaced writing, and/or 10 minutes of time-based media. There is a maximum of 20 uploads TOTAL (all formats combined).  The submission deadline is May 15, 2019 at midnight EST.

Please submit materials from your ongoing project in all of the forms that the work encompasses (e.g., if your project will include photographs, text, and video you should include a sample of each) in the manner indicated below.

  • Up to 19 images (photographs/graphics + text) in digital format from an ongoing project (jpg/pdf). Please label images with captions, to include title, year, format, and any additional information you would like to include. Please note, captions (even extended ones) will not be considered as the textual component of your project.
  • Up to 15-pages of double-spaced writing (edited oral history, descriptive narrative, poetry) from an ongoing project in pdf format. Please include name, address, telephone number, and email address on the first page.
  • In the case of a combined pdf of writing and photographs, the document should include no more than 19 images and no more than the equivalent of 15 pages of double-spaced writing.
  • Digital materials (CDs or DVDs) and analog formats (VHS, 16mm, etc.) may be accepted by mail if necessary. Please send a request to Samantha Bechtold at before sending.

Applicants must ALSO submit ALL of the following:

  • 1-page project description (pdf). Please provide context for the material you are submitting—the nature and duration of the project to date, where and when the submitted work was made, as well as your plan for the next stages of the project. How will winning the Lange-Taylor Prize further your work? If you are sending in work from a project previously submitted to the Lange-Taylor Prize, please include information about how your project has developed since you last entered, and in what ways the samples have been revised/refined.  If you are submitting work that has been previously published, please include information about where and when it appeared and how the material as submitted for this competition is different (or not).  Applicants may include URLs where additional related work may be viewed.
  • 1-page statement (pdf) that addresses the use and relationship of words and images in your work. If your project combines audio recordings, text, photographs, and video, for instance, please submit a sample of each and address how these elements “rely on and exploit, in intriguing and effective ways, the interplay of words and images in the creation and presentation” of your work. How is this interplay advantageous in fulfilling the goals of your documentary project?
  • 1-page biography or C.V. for each project partner (pdf)
  • $70 entry fee

QUESTIONS?  Contact Samantha Bechtold,


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