Emerging Photojournalist Award

Works donated by famous photojournalists are auctioned to the public for NGO PROOF’s most important fundraiser, its annual photography auction. 

Photo: Allyse Pulliam

Photo: Allyse Pulliam


Emerging Photojournalist Grant Winner Exhibition at VII Gallery

PROOF: Media for Social Justice is proud to announce that the winner of this year's Emerging Photojournalist's Award is Allyse Pulliam for her work documenting reproductive health issues in Burma. This year's two honorable mentions go to Matthieu Zellweger and Michelle Gerster.

"The compelling work of all three photographers will be the subject of an exhibition at the gallery of prestigious photography agency VII," announced Leora Kahn, PROOF’s Executive Director. "We are proud to be able to encourage the work of these new voices."

Ed Kashi, famous for his work for National Geographic, will host the exhibition's opening night, on July 25th.

All three photojournalists were selected by PROOF’s jury from dozens of submissions from six continents, each of whom was doing meaningful work documenting social justice, many in challenging circumstances. Pulliam receives a grant to further her projects, and all three photographers will be mentored by award-winning photographers.

Allyse Pulliam, from Monroe, New York, focused on the difficulties of Burma's health care system, which the World Health Organization ranked 190th out of 191 countries. “It is important to show the rest of the world what happens when these rights are not honored and care gets pushed underground,” said Pulliam in her submission.

Ms Kahn says she very much agrees. "Bringing the world’s crises to light through photography is a critical part of PROOF’s mission," she said. "Every dollar of support for these courageous and deserving artists makes an important difference in their ability to capture human dilemmas in compelling pictures.”

For additional information:

Tatiana Leon


Opening Night
July 25th
6:30 - 8:30PM
VII Gallery
28 Jay Street (Dumbo area of Brooklyn)

July 25 - August 30
Gallery Hours: 10AM-6PM /  Monday to Friday

VII Gallery can be reached by the F train to York Street, and walking 2 blocks west.


2013 Finalists

Allyse Pulliam

Winner, 2013

Allyse Pulliam was born in New York in 1986 and received a Bachelors in Fine Art in Photography from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY in 2008. Her work has been published in several newspapers and magazines.  She has spent the last year and a half in Mae Sot, Thailand working with several Non-Government Organizations (NGO’s) using photography to bring attention to issues in the Burmese migrant community.

"News outlets, politicians and foreign investors are celebrating Burma (Myanmar)’s apparent overnight transition from isolated dictatorship to emerging democracy. They fail to recognize that foreign investment does not mean an investment in people, nor does it mean that people are any less isolated. In this pivotal moment in Burma’s history, it is important that the wellbeing and health of its people is not forgotten.

The World Health Organization ranked Burma’s healthcare system 190th out of 191 countries, giving it the dubious distinction of having the 2nd worst health care in the entire world. This, in a conservative, patriarchal society, means that women’s reproductive healthcare is dangerous to nonexistent. With this project, I will not only show the consequences of a society that is ill-equipped to deal with reproductive health issues but explore solutions as well. It is imperative that people across the world know what happens in a place that takes away a woman’s right to protect herself from unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery of her child. It is important, not only to address this issue inside Burma and in migrant communities, but to show the rest of the world what happens when these rights are not honored and care gets pushed underground."


Matthieu Zellweger

Honorable Mention, 2013

Photographer Matthieu Zellweger was born and grew up in French-speaking Switzerland. He has extensively traversed the roads of sub-saharan Africa and the Orient in search of images that twine culture with the realities of public health and development. Matthieu Zellweger is also a fully trained scientist with years of involvement in public health matters, and a graduate in International Political Economy (London School of Economics). His work has been published in various magazines in Europe. He freelances for numerous NGOs, predominantly on health-related topics, and lives in Rolle, Switzerland, with his wife Ingrid.

"This series shows the reality of asthma in Cotonou and Porto-Novo (Benin). Asthma is a disease that can be controlled if asthma patients have access to the right medicines and are treated regularly. In Benin, a very efficient national program provides patients with subsidized medicines and competent medical care, and they can lead a normal life. The more difficult aspect is the societal stigma, wearing on the patients and their family. In the specific case of asthmatic children, they must be very quiet about their disease since it is [believed] that it can be transmitted to their own children.

Peaceful breathing is only one spray away, but societal stigma still endures."

Michelle Gerster

Honorable Mention, 2013

Michelle Gerster is an American photographer, videographer and educator who has been based out of Oaxaca, Mexico since 2010.  Her photography focuses on issues related to social justice, frequently in relation to immigration and deportation. Her work has been exhibited in both the United States and Mexico was chosen as a resident at the Academia de Artes Visuales in Mexico City in 2009.   She attended St. Mary's College of Maryland and the SALT Institute of Documentary Studies.

"Carlos Leon Mendizabal had traveled to the States first in the early 1990s and after several years of working he had managed to save enough to return for his wife and two young children. They began their new life in Beaverton, Oregon. As their time progressed, the promise of the American dream seemed to be reality as Carlos found work with increased pay. All changed one night when he was pulled over by the police for a DUI. He completed all of the court-mandated programs, but after 17 years living here illegally, his immigration status finally came into the forefront.  Carlos’ family poured all of their savings into a lawyer, but nothing changed. At the end, Carlos decided that the only choice was a voluntary deportation. In July of 2012, Carlos packed up his Ford Bronco and started the drive back to Mexico.

Since his arrival in Mexico, I have spent time with Carlos and have viewed his struggles and loneliness as he adjusts to living in a land that doesn’t feel like his own. The likelihood of Carlos returning to the U.S. legally is becoming grimmer and his family in the States is struggling more and more each day. I have seen the distress in Carlos’ face as his wife and two older sons continue to live illegally in the U.S. The stressful situation is starting to unravel the family at the seams while their principal breadwinner waits patiently in Mexico."


About PROOF's Emerging Photojournalist's Award

PROOF: Media for Social Justice knows that emerging photojournalists want to do meaningful projects related to human rights and social justice issues but oftentimes do not have the funds or connections to do so. For this reason, we’re offering an award to help an emerging photojournalist jump-start their project by providing funding and support from the media community.

Three awards are given each year. First place receives a $2500 grant to finance a photography project that promotes social change and human rights, and will be mentored by Ed Kashi from VII. Second and third place receive mentorship from well known photojournalists. The top three entries’ work are shown at an exhibit in the VII gallery in New York.

This award is for emerging photojournalists. The term “emerging photojournalist” is defined as a photojournalist who has an accomplished body of photojournalistic work that a) has not yet been exhibited or published widely, b) demonstrates a commitment to human rights and social justice issues, and c) does not have agency representation. There are no age or geographic restrictions.

Submissions are now closed, but please subscribe to our mailing list if you would like to be notified when submissions are opened again.

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