Announcing the 2012 Photocrati Fund Winner and Top Finalists


Photocrati is proud to (finally) announce the 2012 Photocrati Fund winner and top finalists. We had an incredible pool of applicants to the fund this year. We are awed by the great imagery and the important projects. We’re also very grateful to our judges for continuing to support the photography community through their efforts with Photocrati: Jim Brandenburg, Michael “Nick” Nichols and Steve McCurry. With more than 400 applicants to the grant this year, competition was fierce and judging was a challenge.


Peter DiCampo – 2012 Photocrati Fund Fellow
Life Without Lights — Documentary photographer Peter DiCampo, the 2012 Photocrati Fund winner, focuses on energy poverty in his on-going project Life Without Lights. Around the globe, roughly 1.5 billion people lack access to electricity; almost a billion more rely on inadequate sources. Biomass, such as charcoal and wood or trash, serves as fuel for cooking and heat. Without improved access to sustainable energy, poverty is difficult to escape.

For the next phase of his project, Peter will focus on the devastating health impacts of energy poverty in the remote Bundibugyo District of Uganda. The World Health Organization estimates that less than 10 percent of Uganda’s population has access to electricity. In remote and rural areas there is almost no electricity at all. Thick smoke from cooking fires contributes to high rates of lung disease. Clinics have no refrigeration for medicines, and no lights for nighttime births and surgeries. There are no phones to communicate emergencies.

Ami Vitale – Second Place
Kashmir: Paths to Peace – This work follows the brutal conflict in Kashmir and the relatively recent wave of unarmed protests. The work illustrates the resilience of the people: how an old culture survived a war, and how a younger, globalized generation has been shaped by the conflict.

Anna Boyiazis – Third Place
AIDS Orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa– This work highlights the devastating impact of AIDS on children and families, and the hope offered by the peer education efforts of the Jane Goodall Institute, Uganda, to ‘turn the tide of HIV’.

Laura El-Tantawy – Fourth Place
In the Shadow of the Pyramids – Tantawy explores Egypt’s identity as a nation in transition. Started in 2005, In the Shadow of the Pyramids, has followed the trials and tribulations, the hope and the violence, the time of Mubarak and the looming future. Now, post-revolution, this is a story of a nation reawakening from decades of political, social and economic repression.


Honorable Mentions

Ryan Roco, Attrition of the Mind: The Psychological Effects of Burma’s Kachin Conflict; Sean Gallagher, A Fragile State: Climate Change on the Tibetan Plateau; Sitthixay Ditthavong, The Silent Siege (Kachin State, Myanmar); TJ Watt, Northern Vancouver Island’s Endangered Ancient Forests; Sven Zellner, Nomadic Children’s Bitter Fate (Mongolia); Stephen Boyle, After Conflict: A Hope (Mogadishu); Roberto (Bear) Guerra, La Carretera: Life Along Peru’s Inter-Oceanic Highway; Neil Ever Osborne, The Black Turtle Project (Baja California).

The Photocrati Fund, a $5000 grant to support an environmental or humanitarian photography project, is offered to one photographer each year. The aim is to invest in photographers who will have a long-term positive impact. Our goal is to identify outstanding, photographers and to provide the resources necessary to pursue projects that will have a tangible and positive effect on the world. The 2013 Photocrati Fund competition will begin in November 2012 and will run through April 2013. For more details please see the Photocrati Fund webpage.


Update from Paul Colangelo, 2011 Photocrati Fund Winner

Here’s an update on Paul Colangelo, the 2011 Photocrati Fund winner. Here, we highlight a small selection of images from his work in the Sacred Headwaters region of British Columbia. The full photo essay is currently embargoed until publication by a major news outlet later this year. We can’t reveal anything about that just yet, but trust us, it is very exciting! Stay tuned for another update and a complete photo essay by this incredibly talented young photographer. 


The Stikine River flows in the Grand Canyon of the Stikine, Stikine Plateau, British Columbia © Paul Colangelo 2012

Tucked into the mountainous folds of remote northwestern British Columbia, lies Todagin Mountain, home to what is thought to be the largest lambing herd of Stone’s sheep in the world. Never leaving the windswept grassy plateau of Todagin, the herd shifts between seasonal ranges across the mountain. Todagin has been the sheep’s sanctuary since the local Tahltan people can remember. Todagin falls within the Sacred Headwaters, a region that members of the Tahltan have been fighting to protect since coming under threat of numerous mining proposals.

Recognizing the value of the herd, the government of British Columbia protected its winter range via the creation of the Todagin South Slope Provincial Park in 2001. Since then, however, it has issued drilling permits for nearly the entire plateau, encompassing the herd’s spring, summer and fall ranges. If this land is mined, the herd will lose the majority of its habitat and could be forced off the only home it has known.

A small boat on Ealue Lake after sunset, Stikine Plateau, British Columbia © Paul Colangelo 2012

Graveyard overlooking the Stikine River, Telegraph Creek, Tahltan First Nation, British Columbia © Paul Colangelo 2012

Mountain goats, Grand Canyon of the Stikine, British Columbia, © Paul Colangelo 2010

Tributaries of the upper Klappan River, Skeena Mountains, British Columbia © Paul Colangelo 2012

While working on Sacred Headwaters, a book by Wade Davis aimed at raising awareness of the region, I initially camped on Todagin for a week to photograph the herd. I witnessed first-hand that the mining tenure squarely overlaps the herd’s habitat. Two issues needed to be addressed: a lack of scientific knowledge on the herd, and a lack of public awareness of land use plans on this remote plateau.

Teaming up with Dr. Wes Sechrest, Chief Scientist at Global Wildlife Conservation, and Wade Davis, we launched a two-pronged project: gain knowledge of the herd by mapping its movements across the plateau, and raise awareness of the issue through popular media.

In summer 2011, I was dropped off by helicopter with enough gear and supplies to live with the herd for four months. Completely isolated, I plotted the herd’s movements with specialized camera equipment and photographed the sheep with the aim of telling their story. By three weeks I was immersed in the rhythms of the herd and awoke to the subtleties of the plateau.

Weather proved to be the main challenge. It was officially the worst summer of weather in 50 years in British Columbia. The first windstorm sent tents and gear flying a mile down a valley and crashing into cliffs. The second windstorm occurred in late September, when there was half a foot of snow on the ground. It was so violent that it blocked highways 3,000 feet below me with felled trees and mudslides. I was evacuated by helicopter and had to finish the season a month early.

I will return to Todagin this summer and fall to complete the project, which becomes increasingly more urgent as development continues to ramp up. Images will be released upon publication of the story.

As a business student heading towards a corporate life, my life changed when I received my first camera as a graduation gift. Within months of my first picture, I left my job to pursue a life in photography. It was while working for Frans Lanting that I realized the power of storytelling and dedicated my life to telling stories of wildlife, environmental issues and the crossroads of culture and our natural world.

A grizzly bear chases salmon in a tributary of the Nass River, British Columbia © Paul Colangelo 2012

Eulachon left to decompose in front of a cabin before being processed into an oil known as “eulachon grease”, Nisga’a First Nation, Nass River, British Columbia

Salmon hanging in a Tahltan smokehouse on the Stikine River, Tahltan Nation, British Columbia © Paul Colangelo 2012


A young Tahltan girl beats a drum during celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Tahltan Declaration, Telegraph Creek, Tahltan Nation, British Columbia


2012 Photocrati Fund Top 25 Finalists


The 2012 Photocrati Fund judging is still underway, and we don’t envy the task at hand. With more than 400 talented applicants, selecting a winner is a tough challenge. Our staff and judges have enjoyed reading about the many meaningful projects, and more than that, we’ve loved checking out the outstanding photography. It is one of our favorite times of the year — a chance to be inspired by all of the great work that so many of you are doing in the field. That said, the pool is presently whittled down to the top 25 finalists for this year’s fund. Here they are:

2012 Photocrati Fund Top 25 Finalists

Kashmir: Paths to Peace

AIDS Orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa

The RED Badges of Courage (Tanzania)

The Orphaned Elderly of Kathmandu

The Timber Mafia (Pakistan)

The Written-Off  Future (Jalisco, Mexico)

Where Have All the Hunters Gone? (Peruvian Amazon)

Borderline Living. Refugees in Lebanon


Terror Beat of Acid (Bangladesh)


In the Shadow of the Pyramids (Egypt)

Social Impact of Post-Civil War Violence in Guatemala


Invisible Women (Beruit, Lebanon)

The Black Turtle Project (Baja California)

Life Without Lights (Uganda)

La Carretera: Life Along Peru’s Inter-Oceanic Highway


Attrition of the Mind: They Psychological Effects of Burma’s Kachin Conflict


Columbian Urban Refugees in Ecuador


A Fragile State: Climate Change on the Tibetan Plateau

The Silent Siege (Kachin State, Myanmar)

After Conflict: A Hope (Mogadishu)

Nomadic Children’s Bitter Fate (Mongolia)

Northern Vancouver Island’s Endangered Ancient Forests

Huaorani – Forest People of Ecuador

The Brus – Displaced and Desolate (India)


The Dai’


Photocrati Fund Grant Competition Deadline Extended until April 4!

If you are an environmental, wildlife or humanitarian photographer, and you haven’t submitted your application to the 2012 Photocrati Fund grant competition, you have a few more days! We have just extended the deadline until Wednesday, April 4, 2012 (11:59pm Mountain Standard Time). The Photocrati Fund is a $5,000 grant for a photographer to undertake an important environmental, wildlife or humanitarian project. It’s judged by some of the best photographers in the world.

Check out the Photocrati Fund page for submission guidelines. And be sure to have a look at the cool video of last year’s Photocrati Fund winner and top finalists.