CDS Documentary Essay Prize 2020

The winner of the competition receives $3,000


The CDS Documentary Essay Prize honors the best in short-form 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.

You will be asked to provide the following:

- 15 photographs in digital format (jpeg/jpg). Please label scans with title, year, and format.
- 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. 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


The winner of the competition receives $3,000 and features in Center for Documentary Studies’ digital publications. The winner’s work is also placed in the Archive of Documentary Arts at the Rubenstein Library, Duke University.


The prize is intended to reward a single artist for excellence in documentary photography on any subject.

Copyrights & Usage Rights:

By entering the CDS Documentary Essay Prize, you agree that the Center for Documentary Studies is permitted to receive your registration data. Participants agree that personal data including, but not limited to, name, mailing address, phone number, and email address may be collected, processed, stored and otherwise used for the purposes of conducting and administering the competition.