Photography

10 Emerging Photography Winners on How The Awards Changed Their Careers

Since launching in 2014, The Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards has recognized the work of dozens of up-and-coming voices in the industry, from photojournalists to fine artists. From a metalhead subculture in Botswana to a Greenlandic community of just 1200 inhabitants, they’ve taken us around the world, revealing stories untold and unseen. We reached out to a few winners past editions to learn more about how the awards influenced their careers and what they’ve been up to in the years since. Here’s what they had to say. 

The 7th Annual Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards is now open for entries. This year’s single-image winners will be part of street exhibitions in Los Angeles and New York, and twelve series winners will have their work exhibited in group shows at Berlin’s BBA Gallery and Paris’s Studio Galerie B&B. The deadline for submissions is August 31st, 2021. Submit your work today!

Poolside, Family Home © Lissa Rivera

“Winning the Emerging Photography Award was a huge deal for us. It was a vote of confidence at a moment when we really needed it, and it also led us to where we are now. We are happy to be represented by ClampArt, a gallery in NYC run by Brian Clamp. The work took off from our first solo show there and has traveled as a solo show to many places. Some of our favorite venues are educational institutions and smaller cities, where the work sparks conversation. 

“Pieces have been acquired by museums such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where it was later put on display in a history of photography exhibition in the new photography wing. Another great moment was being included in the Bent pride auction at Sotheby’s curated by Aimee Pflieger, as the work was placed in the context of some of our most treasured historical influences.” Lissa Rivera and BJ Lillis

Rose, impoundment #82564 © Shannon Johnstone

“Winning the Emerging Photography Award meant a lot to me not only because it affirmed the work I did for Landfill Dogs, but because it demonstrated that these discarded and unwanted dogs have value and are worthy of our attention. Winning this award connected me to like-minded curators and made me aware of a community of photography professionals whom I did not know. I am grateful. 

“I think my proudest moment was at the panel discussion of the All Creatures Great and Small exhibition in Raleigh, NC, in October 2019. The panel discussion was led by the amazing art historian Keri Cronin, and I remember sitting beside Jo-Anne McArthur, Traer Scott, and Lee Diedgaard thinking, ‘This is a historical moment. The talent and wealth of knowledge in this room is absolutely remarkable. I am surrounded by the greatest animal advocates and artists I know.’ I felt really proud.” – Shannon Johnstone

From the series The Last Men © Camille Michel

“The Feature Shoot award brought me a lot of visibility. I then won several prizes, two of which were the prize of La Fondation François Schneider, which works mainly on the subject of water, and the Iris-Terre Sauvage prize, sponsored by the famous wildlife photographer Vincent Munier. These prices allowed me to continue my work in Greenland. I have had publications in magazines like The Big Issue Taïwan, Der Spiegel, Cityzine magazine, Terre Sauvage, Wired, Die Zeit. I have been exhibited all over the world: the United States, Italy, China, France…” – Camille Michel

“One of my goals when I entered the awards was to expand my gallery representation. At the time I won the award, I was happily working with one gallery. I am now working with several different gallerists in different cities in the US. I think winning the award brought name and image recognition, which helped create these additional relationships. I also received a number of requests to use my images for book covers and in magazines, which has been a nice development.

“I don’t have any single proudest moment since winning the awards, but I do find it really satisfying when people come to my exhibitions, see my work, and find it moving or resonant in some way. Currently, I have a solo exhibition, This Mortal Coil, at Spillman Blackwell Fine Arts in New Orleans running through August.” Kimberly Witham

A-lister and Sherie © Michael Joseph

“The Emerging Photography Awards helped me to gain exposure for [my project, Lost and Found] on a large scale. Making personal work is great, but I felt like this was work that needed to be shared with a wider audience. As a photographer, one of my goals is to make the unseen seen, and this exposure set the project on course to really be seen. 

“These awards were a building block and one piece of the puzzle to help propel it forward, not only offering validation to the project, but the people in it. My first solo show in New York City was especially meaningful, as it helped elevate the project. A print acquisition by the Houston Museum of Fine Arts was also extremely meaningful, as it helped solidify this subculture as a documented American subculture. Coverage in major media channels such as Vice helped propel and expose the project even further.

“Although I was traveling and making trips to shoot for this project in a way that was unprovoked, I feel like these awards, with all the visibility, helped push me forward to make more work. As time progressed, I now felt a responsibility to continue, even in harder times, to make work and broaden the project. The awards helped build an audience, and I was no longer shooting for myself. I was shooting with responsibility to the Traveling community.” – Michael Joseph

Knife © Suzanne Stein

“I think that recognition is a very slow burn for someone with my photographic style. Feature Shoot courageously recognized my work, but because it’s so edgy and raw at times, especially in 2017 when I won, I feel that many editors really did not. I think it’s super, crazy important, especially these days, to tell the truth in photography. People need to see what’s out there, and not be presented with easy images that don’t enlighten or pull at the psyche.” Suzanne Stein

Debbie Baone Superpower © Paul Shiakallis

“After winning The Emerging Photography Awards, I had numerous online and print publications around the world feature the winning project, most notably i-D Mag (USA), The Guardian Newspaper (UK), De Volksrant (Holland), Vogue (Italy). In addition, I had interest from fashion designers and artists wanting to collaborate. 

“My most notable exhibitions were: The Absa L’atelier awards (South Africa); Sibyline Feminist Exhibition at The alliance Francaise (South Africa); ‘Photographing the Female’ workshops in India and USA curated by Sarah Ege Hoilund. 

“Winning The Emerging Photography Awards also generally made it easier for me to approach outlets to have the work shown or sold. Since winning the awards and gaining all that attention, I have definitely become more proactive in terms of submitting, pitching, and conceptualizing collaborations with potential clients.” Paul Shiakallis

From the series Portraits of Bob Coombs © Joey Solomon

“Since winning the Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Award, my photographs and words have been featured in The New Yorker Magazine, and I have received the honor of being a contributing photographer at NYC’s Daniel Cooney Fine Art 2020 Emerging Photographers Auction. Since being highlighted by Feature Shoot, my work has also been showcased on LENSCRATCH, the Rotterdam Photo Festival, and HYPEBEAST.” Joey Solomon 

Recognition Pattern #3 © Marcus DeSieno

“The Emerging Photography Awards have had quite an impact on my career. The awards helped elevate the visibility of my art. My work has been featured in a variety of publications including The Washington Post and has been exhibited at Klompching Gallery in New York and Photo-Eye Gallery in Santa Fe, NM.  I was also a recipient of the Lensculture Emerging Talent Award for my photographic work on facial recognition. I’m currently working with a publisher to turn this series into my second monograph.” – Marcus DeSieno

Grinding © Silvia De Giorgi

“Winning the Feature Shoot Photography Award led to a lot of recognition of my work. Photographs from my series were included in several print and online publications, including Aesthetica Magazine Artist Directory (UK), GUP Magazine (NL), Phases Magazine, Don’t Take Pictures (US), ClickMagazine (IT), and Altri Animali (IT). I was contacted by photo galleries regarding collaborations and representation and am currently working towards a publication of my work in form of a photo book. Being recognized as part of this contest gave me new confidence in my practice and encouraged me to keep exploring my interest in photography.” – Silvia De Giorgi

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