Michael and his partner Taj Forer founded an organization dedicated to a print product in 2003, when the industry was already moving to digital. In this interview, he discusses the growth and adaptation of Daylight in the evolving digital landscape and how winning the Howard Chapnick Grant helped him reach his goals.
Interview with Michael Itkoff
Taj Forer and I founded Daylight in part because we felt that our specific area of interest—photo-based work existing somewhere between the documentary mode and that of fine art—was not being properly addressed by the industry.
We set up Daylight as a platform for more subjective, personally experienced truths that were realized through photography.
You founded an organization dedicated to publishing art and photography books in 2003, when the industry was already moving to digital. How has Daylight worked within the massive shift in art and photography publishing over the last decade?
Although only 10 years ago 2003 is ancient history in the context of the print/digital shift. In those days it was not yet obvious that a sea change was on the horizon. In fact, it took us over a year after publishing our first edition to develop a proper online presence as we were so committed to the physical object.
Since that time we have anticipated and embraced the continued shift toward digital formats with our multimedia program and newly launched iPad publishing program.
Tell us more about your multimedia program. Is it integrated with your books program?
The multimedia program highlights the work of an individual artist and presents a portfolio-based slideshow of work along with the artists narration and a curated musical selection. We feature artists from the Daylight Photo Awards as well as from our books program in addition to artists from outside the fold.
We have been producing multimedia as a separate initiative since 2007. To date we have over 50 features available for free.
Now that you are producing both digital and physical products, do you find your audience shifting in one direction or the other?
It is too early to tell. I believe our core audience shares our commitment to print as well as our interest in experiencing work within the digital space.
“Jeff Jacobson: The Last Roll” is Daylight’s most recent multimedia project. They now have more than 50 features available for free.
You were awarded the Howard Chapnick Grant in 2006. How did you use the grant and what has it meant for you personally?
The grant proceeds went straight into publication of Issue #5 of Daylight Magazine. Our goal at that time was to remain in print and the Chapnick grant certainly helped offset the cost of our fifth edition!
It was also a benchmark for Daylight as it signaled public acceptance and industry recognition. I am still proud to have received the award.
Daylight runs an award program of its own. When did you start running it? And who does it seek to award?
We launched the Daylight Photo Awards in 2010 along with the Center for Documentary Studies, but have since proceeded to offer the awards on our own.
The DPA offers $1,000, a solo show and a multimedia feature to an artist with a developed body of work in order to showcase it and aid in its development.
About the Howard Chapnick Grant
In 1996 the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund announced a new award, the Howard Chapnick Grant, to encourage and support leadership in fields ancillary to photojournalism, such as editing research, education and management.
The Grant was established to honor the memory of Howard Chapnick, and acknowledge the value of his enormous contribution to photography.
The annual $5,000 grant may be used to finance any of a range of qualified undertakings, which might include a program of further education, research, a special long-term sabbatical project, or an internship to work with a noteworthy group or individual.
According to the Fund’s Board of Trustees, special consideration will be given to projects that promote social change and/or serve significant concerns of photojournalism. The grant is not intended to be used for the production of photographs, which will continue to be funded by the main grant of the Smith Fund.
Applications are due May 31, 2013. Learn more and apply at http://smithfund.org/howard-chapnick-grant.
Strategies for Photographers: Thoughts On How To Apply For Fellowships and Other Competitions
Monday, March 4, 2013, 6:30 p.m.
547 W. 27th St.
New York, NY 10011
Event open to the public.
About the Event
One of the ways photographers are able to sustain careers is through grants and fellowships. For over 30 years the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography has been one of the most prestigious.
The panel brings together some Smith Fund Board members to share their experiences judging competitions ranging from Smith to World Press Photo, World Photo Organization, Getty Images, PDN, Le Journal de la Photographie and American Photography to name a few. This is a unique opportunity to gain some insight into what takes place in the judging room and for photographers seeking advice.
Participants will include current Smith Board members David Friend (Vanity Fair) W.M. Hunt (Dancing Bear), Marcel Saba (Redux Pictures), and Lauren Wendle (PDN), all of whom have served as head jurors.
This panel is free and open to the public and will follow an afternoon press conference announcing the call for entries for the 2013 Smith Fund Fellowship.
Past recipients of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund represent a “Who’s Who” of 20th Century documentary photography in the humanistic tradition of Smith. Recent W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund recipients include 2012: Peter von Agtmael, 2011: Krisanne Johnson, 2010: Darcy Padilla, 2009: Lu Guang, 2008: Mikhael Subotzky, 2007: Stephen Dupont, 2006: Paolo Pellegrin, and 2005: Pep Bonet.
Chronologically, earlier fellows range from Jane Evelyn Atwood, Eugene Richards, Sebastio Salgado, Milton Rogovin, Gilles Peress, Donna Ferrato, Letizia Battaglia, John VInk, Graciela Iturbide, Paul Graham, Cristina Garcia Rodero, Carl de Keyzer, Dario Mitideri, Eli Reed, Marc Asnin, James Nachtwey, Ellen Binder, Vladimir Syomin, Gideon Mendel, Alain Keler, Ernesto Bazan, Chien-Chi Chang, Brenda Ann Kenneally, Maya Goded, Kai Widenhofer, Trent Parke, to Stanley Greene through to Peter van Agtmael.
For more information visit smithfund.org. Entries for this year’s competition are due by the end of May.
About the Grants
The W. Eugene Smith Grant for Humanistic Photography was established in 1979 following the death of Gene Smith, the legendary American photo essayist. Today, the grant represents the most prestigious honor in the field of documentary photography.
The Howard Chapnick Grant encourages and supports professionals working in the fields of documentary photography and photojournalism. Applicants may be engaged in research, editing, education, or similar endeavors; the grant is not intended to be used for the production of photographs. Special consideration will be given to projects that promote social change or serve significant concerns within the field.
Learn more at smithfund.org.