MELVILLE, N.Y., Oct. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The Nikon Spirit Initiative(R) and
the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund announced Spanish Photographer Pep Bonet as
the winner of the $30,000 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography for
his project, "Faith in Chaos." Robin Bowman of Brooklyn, NY, received a $5,000
Fellowship Grant for her project, "Under: Study -- Beneath the Surface of the
American Teenager." The grants, which recognize the work of photographers who
have established a devotion to documenting the human condition, are presented
annually by the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund and sponsored by Nikon Inc. The
presentation of awards will be held on Monday, October 17th at the HBO Theatre
located in New York City.
(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20051017/NYM061 )
"Nikon is honored to sponsor the W. Eugene Smith Grant as part of the
Nikon Spirit Initiative," stated Anna Marie Bakker, director of Communications
Nikon Inc. "The grant recipients possess remarkable talent in the field of
photography. Both Pep Bonet and Robin Bowman bring something new and
intriguing to the photographic community. These two recipients have shown
incredible skill and dedication through their work."
For the past two years, Mr. Bonet has been taking photographs in post-war
Sierra Leone. It is here that he found four groups of children severely
affected by war -- amputees, the blind, and the traumatized and former child
soldiers. Bonet followed this group of kids and "captured the lives of Sierra
Leone youngsters whilst they were creating chances for themselves in a land
where opportunities are very rare."
Of his story, Bonet remarks, "It's a story that sheds light on a side of
Sierra Leone (and of Africa) that we don't often get to see; one of stamina,
pride, and self-confidence I saw how faith enabled people to see perspective
in even the most inhumane of circumstances." Bonet followed his subjects
closely, his work on this project provides an up-close, and never-before seen
view of the direct impacts of war on young people in Sierra Leone and the
faith, which gives them strength.
Robin Bowman, the recipient of the fellowship grant, has been interviewing
and photographing teenagers all over the United States. She has used
photographs and taped interviews to "document the personal history of this
generation at the turn of the millennium." The intent of the study is to
"help spawn a new dialogue and public awareness of today's youth and allow for
a deeper understanding of their lives." Regarding her work, Bowman states,
"Most people have a preconceived notion about what it means to be an American.
I am hopeful this study will challenge and deconstruct some of these long-held
The winning proposals of 2005 were selected from 149 entries representing
33 countries. The jury was headed by William M. Hunt, principal director of
New York's Hasted Hunt Gallery, member of the Board of Trustees of the Smith
Fund and photography collector; Elisabeth Biondi, Visual Editor of The New
Yorker; and Dr. Shahidul Alam, director of the Drik Picture Library and the
biannual Chobi Mela Festival of Photography in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
For the past 21 years, Nikon Inc. has attentively supported the W. Eugene
Smith Grant. Considered a prestigious honor in photojournalism, the grant was
founded in 1978 following the death of W. Eugene Smith, a legendary photo
essayist. Smith's friends Howard Chapnick, Jim Hughes and John Morris created
the grant, whose goal is to perpetuate Smith's work and spirit. The value of
the grant rests in the fact that it provides photojournalists with the
opportunity to visualize and achieve goals in photographic studies, all with
the benefit of financial freedom.
"Pep Bonet is another talented visionary following in the extraordinary
footsteps of Gene Smith. He continues to bring into focus for the public an
important part of society we often don't want to see," said Helen Marcus,
president of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund.
For more information on the W. Eugene Smith Grant, visit the Nikon Spirit
Initiative website at http://www.nikonspiritinitiative.com or the W. Eugene
Smith Memorial Fund site at http://www.smithfund.org.
About the W. Eugene Smith Grant
The W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography is presented annually
to a photographer whose past work and proposed project for the upcoming year,
as judged by a panel of experts, follows the tradition of W. Eugene Smith's
compassionate dedication exhibited during his 45-year career as a photographic
essayist. For 2005, the grant will be $30,000, with an additional $5,000 in
fellowship money to be awarded at the discretion of the jury. The grant
program is independently administered by the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund and
generously funded by Nikon Inc. For more information on the W. Eugene Smith
Memorial Fund, visit the website at http://www.smithfund.org.
About the Nikon Spirit Initiative
The Nikon Spirit Initiative is Nikon's corporate responsibility effort,
which supports the local community and photographers through sponsorship of
charitable, educational and industry enrichment programs. For more
information, visit http://www.nikonspiritinitiative.com. For information
about Nikon and its products, dial (800) NIKON-US or visit