Taking Focus, Inc. is delighted to announce its first photography grant. Entry submission will be open December 3rd, 2018 through February 1st, 2019. We are excited to have Mike Davis as the judge for our first $2,500 grant. If you are a photographer working on an important story that you believe needs be told and seen by the masses, we are the organization for you. This grant is for you to create an impactful shift towards making our world a better place.

We are proudly setting forth one of our initial initiatives; supporting our fellow image makers. We have always felt strongly there are some financial resources for photographers, but not necessarily complementary resources that continue to help those that are being photographed after a body of work is completed. We believe photographers should have the resources to go the extra mile. We wholeheartedly believe educating the public and assisting to change the lives of those we photograph is a crucial part of being a socially aware photographer.  

Who are we?  We are photographers and filmmakers who understand the importance of needing to feel support from a larger community of like-minded creatives.

What is our mission?  Our mission at Taking Focus, Inc. is to present stories that will impact our communities, to build a better understanding about important health and social issues; defined really as human rights issues. We seek to educate and advocate for those who do not have a platform to voice themselves in their time of need. We believe that long term projects seek to build a greater comprehension about issues of indifferences and injustices that exist among us.         

How did we start?  It was one story that inspired our organization. Her name is Alyssa Jaydn Hagstrom, she was born with a condition called arthrogryposis which left her with no use of her arms, legs, and limited use of her fingers. Her story, “Love for Alyssa” began when she was five years old and ultimately became the name of our first nonprofit organization - Love For Alyssa.

The original concept came from a true desire to help her in some way. The belief that making a strong body of work with compelling images that people could connect with and feel empathy for, would manifest into something wonderful, and it did.

It was humbling to see the outreach of support from people literally around the country who came to know her through her images and story. Through exhibitions and online coverage, we were able to educate the masses about her condition that many had never heard of until that point.

Through Love For Alyssa we further educated the public about arthrogryposis and how it affects 1 in 3,000 individuals in the United States.

But, ultimately there was something missing. How could we take a story, raise money to educate the public, and create a movement that would help further support those who we photograph. And, extend that mission to other socially conscience photographers?

Taking Focus, Inc. was born.

We are not like any other nonprofit organization or collective. Over the years we at Taking Focus, Inc. have created an avenue for like minded photographers to change the circumstances of those whom we photograph more directly.  

Now we are further expanding the assistance to socially aware photographers with a $2500 grant.


The Grant

The grant funds will be divided into two parts: $2000 of the funds awarded will be used towards completing an ongoing U.S. based photographic project or a portion of an ongoing photographic project. The remaining $500 of the funds will go towards, what we call at Taking Focus, Inc., “the giving back component” - this will be determined and agreed upon with Taking Focus, Inc. through an art exhibition, social program, outreach, et cetera. A deeper connection towards the work can be made through these engagements.

If the photographer is still in need of funds for their project; either to complete the work, or towards their “giving back component”, then they are invited to be a part of Taking Focus, Inc.’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program, which will enable them to reach out for donations under our 501c3 tax deduction.

This grant will strictly be for the production of still images only, not video. And, the grant may not go towards the production of a book. If the chosen photographer would like to produce a book, they may do so under our Fiscal Sponsorship Program.

The work produced for the grant must be finished within one year of the awarding of the grant. The “giving back component” must have a clear timeline for follow through by the end of 2020.


Submission Requirements

The entry fee for the grant is $25*. If Taking Focus, Inc. finds your submitted project aligns with our mission the grant entry fee will also substitute our fee for the Fiscal Sponsorship Program. This would allow a grant submitter to raise funds for their project before the conclusion of judging.

There is a required, maximum, 500 word essay, to be included in your submission that provides background on the proposed project and what you will do for your giving back component.

In addition, a detailed expense proposal is required on how the $2000 will be spent on completing or furthering the proposed project. And a general expense proposal on how the $500 will be spent on “the giving back component”.

Image size: 1500 pixels on the longest side -jpg.

Number of images: 15-20

The proposed project also needs to be located within the continental United States and any further money raised through the Fiscal Sponsorship Program must come from United States based donors.

Submissions should be emailed to submissions@takingfocus.org


The Judge

Mike Davis holds the endowed Alexia Chair at Newhouse, which means he teaches visual storytelling classes and runs The Alexia Grant competitions at the school. The Alexia is one of the world’s premiere grants that support humanistic, socially significant visual projects for professionals and students.

In addition to teaching and The Alexia, Mike continues to work as an independent photography editor, working with visual storytellers around the world to elevate their way of seeing and edit their projects for books, gallery exhibitions, portfolios and contest and grant submissions. He has worked on more than 500 such projects, which in turn inform and elevate his teaching and The Alexia. He also continues to consult with a range of organizations, publications and competitions internationally.

For 30 years before arriving at Newhouse, Mike held visual leadership positions at National Geographic, The White House and several of America’s leading newspapers as well as running his own consulting business. He was twice named newspaper picture editor of the year, and has edited the work of several photographers who went on to win Photographer of the Year titles and others whose work was widely recognized at the top tiers of the profession.

Davis regularly judges significant visual storytelling competitions and is asked to review the work of emerging and seasoned visual storytellers in formal review settings, including The Eddie Adams Workshop, New York Times Reviews, LOOK3, ICP.

Davis has been on the faculty of various workshops, including LOOK3, the Missouri Workshop, Mountain People’s Workshop, FOTOFusion, Santa Fe Workshops, The Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar, Northern Short Course, New Zealand Photofest and Somos Foto in Ecuador and The Dominican Republic. Twice he's been a roving reviewer during Photolucida and he has lectured at a range of universities.

Mike holds a master’s degree from the University of Missouri with an emphasis in visual leadership and a bachelor’s from the University of Nebraska with dual majors in journalism and Spanish. He hails from a small town in Nebraska and is a U.S. Air Force and Army National Guard veteran.

 Mike Davis at the Asheville city hall.

  • Details

    • Grant: $2,500 ($2,000 towards the production of photographs and $500 towards the “giving back component”)

    • Entry Fee: $25 (can be used towards our Fiscal Sponsorship Program). *A portion of your fee will go towards supporting future grant opportunities

    • Submission Deadline: Monday, December 3rd, 2018 - Friday, February 1st, 2019

    • Winner announcement deadline: Monday,  March 11th, 2019

    • Judge: Mike Davis