Obituary: Stanley Greene, 2004 W. Eugene Smith Grant

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Photojournalist Stanley Greene, whose coverage of war and social upheaval spanned the fall of the Berlin Wall, the war in Chechnya and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, died May 19 in Paris. He was 68. NOOR Images, the cooperative he co-founded, did not provide the cause of death, but Greene had been diagnosed with hepatitis C nearly a decade ago, and had been in declining health in recent weeks.

Greene, a dedicated film shooter, brought an artistic eye to stories he photographed over the course of several years. He described photography as “75 percent chance and 25 percent skill” and his own career as “an accident.” He happened to be in Berlin in 1989 when the border between east and west suddenly opened. “I heard the Berlin Wall was coming down so I drove to Checkpoint Charlie and started photographing demonstrators,” he told Jean-Francois Leroy, director of Visa Pour L’Image, in a 2012 interview before an audience at the LOOK3 photography festival. “The adrenaline got into me. I realized it was part of history.”

His photo of a young woman standing on the Berlin Wall in a tutu and passing a bottle of champagne, was published around the world. From there, Greene went on to cover conflict and suffering in Mali, Iraq, Somalia, Croatia, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and other countries. In a bio published on the website of NOOR Images, Greene said, “Sometimes I wonder if societies just lust for tragedies.”

In 1993, he was nearly killed while covering an attempted coup against Russian president Boris Yeltsin. Several months later, Greene began covering the war in Chechnya. He traveled to Chechnya about 20 times over the course of the next decade to document the gruesome brutality of the Russian invasions there. Greene sided unapologetically with the Chechens. In 2004, shortly after the publication of his book Open Wound: Chechnya 1994-2003, he told Newsweek magazine, “I have been accused of having lost my objectivity. But when you sit on a fence and watch genocide without doing anything about it, you are as guilty as those who are committing it.”

In the 2012 interview at LOOK3, Greene offered a more tempered reflection on his work in Chechnya: “When you watch someone on your left and right being killed, you become angry, and have this naive idea that pictures are going to stop it. You go back more and more to show proof, and you hope pictures that get published will make people stop it. But it’s not the case.” (See “LOOK3: Stanley Greene on Film, Luck and Helping Young Photographers.”)

Greene won numerous awards during his career, including five World Press Photo awards, the 2004 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography, and the 2013 Aftermath Project Grant. Both grants were for his ongoing work in the Caucasus. Among his other notable projects were his five-year documentary of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and his project documenting the trail of electronic waste and its impacts in Nigeria, india, China and Pakistan. In 2010, he published Black Passport, a memoir and scrapbook which combined images from throughout his career with meditative reflections.

Greene was known for his generosity, particularly toward young photographers. “I believe in the community of photography. I believe we have to give each other a helping hand,” he said during the 2012 interview. He added, “It’s important for all of us when we discover talent to try to help them.”

Born in 1949 and raised in Harlem by parents who instilled in him a commitment to social justice, Greene protested the war in Vietnam as a teenager, and joined the Black Panther Party. “I was stupid,” he said of his Black Panther membership in the 2012 interview. “I was a big fan of Che Guevara. I was attracted to the Panthers by the berets and leather jackets.”

He began his artistic career as a painter, and used photography to catalogue his work until W. Eugene Smith–whose assistant Greene happened to be dating at the time–began to mentor him and encourage him to pursue the medium seriously.

Greene studied at the School of Visual Arts, shot some freelance assignments for Newsday, then moved to San Francisco, where he photographed punk bands. In the mid 1980s he moved to Paris to shoot fashion. He told Newsweek, “I was a dilettante, sitting in cafes, taking pictures of girls and doing heroin.” Around the same time Greene had his first success with his Berlin Wall pictures, a close friend of died of AIDS, and Greene resolved to kick his drug habit and get serious about his photography career.

He was represented for years by Agence Vu, but he left in 2007 to co-found NOOR with Kadir van Lohuizen.

Despite health issues, on April 17, Greene gave a lecture at the World Press Photo Foundation festival in Amsterdam, where he had been honored numerous times.

View Stanley Greene’s images that earned him the 2004 W. Eugene Smith Grant

LOOK3: Stanley Greene on Luck, Film and Supporting Young Photographers

tanley Greene Wins 2013 Aftermath Grant

By David Walker
Posted courtesy of

Apply for the 2017 Grant

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The extended deadline for the 2017 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography is June 10, 2017.

Apply for the Grant >

A Call for Entries 2017

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W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund Announces Call for Entries Now Open
for its 2017 Grant Celebrating Humanistic Photography

38th annual memorial fund increases grant to $35,000 for photographers who display poignant, humanistic approach to storytelling

New York, NY – March 1, 2017 – The W. Eugene Smith Fund announced it is now accepting applications for its 38th annual Grant in Humanistic Photography. Since presenting its first grant in 1980, the Fund has awarded more than one million dollars to exemplary photographers whose works, created in the tradition of Eugene Smith, have brought light to contemporary issues that call for compassion and attention. The Smith Fund also announced it will increase its annual grant to $35,000, beginning this year. Photographers interested in learning more about the grant and fellowship, and submitting an application should visit The extended deadline for submitting applications is June 10, 2017.

About The Smith Fund Grant
The Grant is presented annually by The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund to photographers whose work is judged by a panel of experts to be in the best tradition of highlighting untold stories, as exhibited by W. Eugene Smith during his 45-year career in photojournalism. The grant, which honors the legendary photo-essayist, enables recipients to undertake and complete their proposed photojournalistic and documentary projects. Past recipients have included Sebastião Salgado, Maya Goded and Eli Reed.

“We continue to be overwhelmed and inspired by the quality of work submitted by photographers all over the world in the name of humanistic photography,” said Lauren Wendle, president of the Fund’s Board of Trustees. “Last year’s recipient, Justyna Mielnikiewicz, is a great example of the quality of work being submitted and the significance the Smith Fund has established internationally.” In A Diverging Frontier, Justnya looks at Russians living in the former soviet states, 25 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, and the role ethnicity plays in the political development of these countries and the formation of social identity.

The recipient of the 2017 Smith Award will receive a $35,000 grant to complete a current or future documentary project. In addition, one or more Fellowships totaling $5,000 will be given to photographers to fund worthy projects.

Each year, the Board of Trustees appoints a three-member international jury that meets twice during the adjudication process. Finalists are selected based on the substantive, photographic, and intellectual merits of their project. They are then asked to submit a comprehensive electronic portfolio, and write, if necessary, a more detailed and focused proposal to answer questions by the jury regarding their project.


The 21st Annual Howard Chapnick Grant

Applications for the annual Howard Chapnick Grant are also open through May 31, 2017. The grant is presented to an individual for his or her leadership in any field ancillary to photojournalism, such as picture editing, research, education and management. This grant is not intended for photographers, but for champions of photography. It was established in 1996 to honor the memory of Howard Chapnick who led the Black Star photo agency, and to acknowledge his enormous contribution to photography. The annual $5,000 grant may be used by the recipient to finance a range of qualified undertakings, which might include a program of further education, special research, a long-term sabbatical project, or an internship to work with a noteworthy group or individual. This grant is not for the creation or production of photographs.


The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund is supported by generous contributions from The Incite Project, and Canon USA. Additional support is provided by Photo District News, International Center of Photography (ICP), School of Visual Arts (SVA) BFA Photography, MFA Photography, Video and Related Media departments, MediaStorm, Brilliant Graphics, Synergy Communications, and Aperture.


“Awarding these grants each year is made possible through industry-wide support and by private donors,” Lauren Wendle explains. “As it is important that we continue the funding which allows these photographers to share their stories with the world, we invite any who are philanthropically minded and share our interest in this special form of photography, to contact us. The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund is a not-for-profit corporation qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to the Smith Fund are tax-deductible.”

Photographers interested in learning more or applying for either grant should visit

Media Contact

Lou Desiderio
Synergy Communications, Inc.
Tel: 917-627-0912

Attend the 37th annual W. Eugene Smith Grant and awards presentation

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The ceremony will take place on at the SVA Theater on Thursday, October 13, 2016 at 7:00 pm.

More details here | RSVP here

You are Cordially Invited to Attend the 37th Annual W. Eugene Smith Grant Ceremony

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Cordially Invites You to The Presentation of


Country Doctor W. Eugene Smith/CCP

Country Doctor W. Eugene Smith/CCP

Thursday, October 13, 2016
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
(Doors open at 6:15 p.m.)

Where: The School of Visual Arts Theatre
333 West 23rd St.
New York, NY 10011

Keynote Presentations by:

Alex Gibney
Oscar-winning Director, Founder of Jigsaw Productions

Kathy Ryan
Director of Photography, New York Times Magazine

Ceremony RSVP:

Please RSVP here — First Come, First Served

FREE Admission
Seating is Limited
Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

The program includes presentations of photo essays by this year’s grant and fellowship recipients, plus finalists

Announcement and presentation of
The 2016 W. Eugene Smith Grant of $30,000
The 2016 jurors’ discretionary Smith Fellowship(s) of $5,000
The 2016 Howard Chapnick Grant of $5,000

Reception to Follow

The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund Grant, selected from over 300 worldwide submissions, is presented annually to photographers whose work carries forward the tradition practiced by Eugene Smith during his 45-year photojournalism career. The grant enables recipients to undertake and complete worthy photojournalistic projects.

Eugene Smith during his 45-year photojournalism career. The grant enables recipients to undertake and complete worthy photojournalistic projects.
The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund is supported by generous contributions from The Incite Project, the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, Anastasia Photo and Canon USA.
Additional support is provided by Aperture, Brilliant Graphics, Center for Creative Photography (CCP), the International Center of Photography, MediaStorm, Photo District News (PDN), the School of Visual Arts BFA Photography, MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department, and Synergy Communications Inc.


Please RSVP through eventbrite

W. EUGENE SMITH Film Release

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Details about Film >

See Artist Talk: Joseph Sywenkyj

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An artist talk with Joseph Sywenkyj at Aperture. Tuesday, September 27, 2016 6:30 p.m.

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Artist Talk: Joseph Sywenkyj

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Masha, 6 years old, was infected with HIV through mother to child transmission at birth. Odesa, Ukraine, 2007

Masha, 6 years old, was infected with HIV through mother to child transmission at birth. Odesa, Ukraine, 2007

Event at Aperture, Tuesday, September 27, 2016 6:30 p.m.

Aperture Foundation, in collaboration with the W. Eugene Smith Memorial
Fund, is pleased to present an artist talk with Joseph Sywenkyj. Sywenkyj,
an American photographer based in Kiev, is the recipient of the 2014
W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography. He will present his
completed Smith Fund project along with some of his past work, which
explores the Ukrainian revolution over the course of sixteen years.

Sywenkyj’s photographs concentrate on how the media is more concerned
with geopolitics and European leaders than with the families that are
affected by war and terrorism. Sywenkyj states, “It is through stories of
families who have been seriously impacted physically, mentally, and
economically by the crisis that we will gain insight into how events in the
country are influencing society as a whole.”


Aperture Foundation
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor
New York

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 6:30 p.m.

$5 donation
FREE for Aperture Foundation Members and students with valid ID

More information

This program is supported, in part, by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Charina Endowment Fund, William Talbott Hillman Foundation, Inc., and the Board of Trustees and Members of Aperture Foundation. Additional public funds are from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


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Opening in Theaters and On Demand Platforms in Fall 2016

Theatrical Debut Appears on Friday, September 23 at the Metrograph in New York City

(NEW YORK, NY – September 7, 2016) – FilmBuff announced today that it has licensed worldwide rights to distribute THE JAZZ LOFT ACCORDING TO W. EUGENE SMITH, the first original production from venerable New York media institution and leading podcast producer WNYC Studios.

FilmBuff will release THE JAZZ LOFT ACCORDING TO W. EUGENE SMITH in select theaters – including the Metrograph in New York City – on Friday, September 23, followed by a digital release on all major On Demand platforms, including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Vudu, on Friday, October 7. WNYC’s award-winning radio host and producer and Emmy Award-winning film editor Sara Fishko, the director of the film, will be on hand to do a live Q&A after the evening show at the Metrograph.

The film, a follow-up to Fishko’s Jazz Loft Radio Series, as well as author Sam Stephenson’s book, The Jazz Loft Project, brings hundreds of photographs by acclaimed LIFE Magazine photographer W. Eugene Smith to the screen for the first time, as well as some of the 4,000 hours of audio he recorded, The film features commentary by musicians Steve Reich, Carla Bley, Jason Moran, Ronnie Free, and many others on this fascinating chapter in jazz, photography, and New York City history.

In the 1950s, dozens of jazz musicians jammed night after night in a dilapidated New York loft building, not realizing they were all being captured in sound and pictures by Smith, who lived in the loft space next door. Thelonious Monk stopped by to rehearse; drummer Ronnie Free got hooked on hard drugs; Smith began to tape-record his own phone calls; the ‘50s gave way to the ‘60s. In a layering of interviews, vignettes and powerful music, Fishko recreates these stories of the vibrant culture of New York’s mid-century jazz era, resurrecting some of the characters captured in Smith’s evocative photographs.

In tandem with the film’s release, WNYC Studios will make available an updated version of the original award-winning Jazz Loft Radio Series – which takes listeners on a deep-dive into the music, voices, and sound Smith captured on audio tape – as a 10-episode podcast series on, iTunes and other places where podcasts are available.

“Jazz is an integral part of the fabric of New York City culture, so we’re excited to bring THE JAZZ LOFT to audiences in our hometown and beyond,” said FilmBuff’s Jake Hanly. “It’s a fascinating time capsule of an historic moment in our city, and FilmBuff is excited to be partnering with WNYC, a quintessential New York institution, on their first original production.”

“What gets us excited every day is the chance to tell stories that inform while delighting. And we’re always looking for new ways to do that,” said Dean Cappello, Chief Content Officer of WNYC Studios. “THE JAZZ LOFT project started as a radio series that showcased the incredible and unheard Gene Smith recordings. The chance to bring these characters to the screen with FilmBuff in WNYC Studios’ first film feels like the best way to honor these musicians and artists in a way that audiences will love.”

“We’re still not sure exactly what Gene Smith was trying to create in the loft,” said Fishko. “But he did remarkable work there, and his pictures by the tens of thousands and stacks and stacks of audio tape reels tell us things about community, music-making, obsession and art that we couldn’t learn in any other way.”

THE JAZZ LOFT ACCORDING TO W. EUGENE SMITH screened at Cleveland International Film Festival 2016, Full Frame Festival 2016, Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema 2016, International Film Festival Rotterdam 2016, Copenhagen Jazz Film Festival 2016, DOC NYC 2015, and New Orleans Film Festival 2015.

The film was written, produced and directed by Sara Fishko, edited by Jonathan J. Johnson and photographed by Tom Hurwitz, ASC. Producers include Calvin Skaggs for Lumiere Productions and Sam Stephenson. The deal was negotiated by Jake Hanly of FilmBuff with John Chao of WNYC.

THE JAZZ LOFT ACCORDING TO W. EUGENE SMITH is funded in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Reva and David Logan Foundation, Oliver Kramer, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts.

WNYC Studios is the premier producer of on-demand and broadcast audio. Born from the team that created some of the most critically acclaimed and popular podcasts of the last decade, WNYC Studios is leading the new golden age in audio with high-quality storytelling that informs, inspires, and delights millions of intellectually curious and highly engaged listeners across digital, mobile, and broadcast platforms. WNYC Studios creates some of the most beloved audio series, including “Radiolab,” “2 Dope Queens,” “Snap Judgment,” “Freakonomics Radio,” “Death, Sex & Money,” “Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin,” “Note to Self,” “On the Media,” “The Takeaway,” and “Studio 360.” Their programs include personal narratives, deep journalism, interviews that reveal, and smart entertainment as varied and intimate as the human voice itself. For more information, visit

FilmBuff is an award-winning full-service global sales and distribution company, with a focus on delivering high quality, compelling film and video to targeted audiences. Founded in 2007, FilmBuff consistently introduces audiences to the best in independent film, including Oscar-nominated EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, Sundance Audience Award winner, SENNA, Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, THE HOUSE I LIVE IN, Jared Leto’s ARTIFACT, Adam Carolla’s ROAD HARD, THE INTERNET’S OWN BOY, BURT’S BUZZ, THE INVITATION, SPRING, and many others. Offering a comprehensive array of services and solutions for today’s evolving media landscape, FilmBuff partners with creative filmmakers, publishers and brand marketers to reach, engage and inspire viewers around the world. Connect with FilmBuff at and @FilmBuff.

For over three decades Lumiere has produced fiction and documentary narratives that engage hearts and open minds. Award-winning and critically acclaimed, Lumiere’s films explore topics in the arts (Good Ol’ Charles Schulz), religion (With God on Our Side), journalism (Local News), politics (Democracy on Deadline), and other social issues (Ghosts of Attica). The company has produced numerous films for Discovery, PBS, HBO, Channel 4 UK, and Arté. Its work is distributed around the world on broadcast and cable television and in movie theaters.

Apply for the 2016 Grant

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The extended deadline for the 2016 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography is June 10, 2016.

Apply for the Grant >

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