The Lange-Taylor Documentary Prize

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The year 2008 marks the eighteenth anniversary of the Dorothea
Lange–Paul Taylor documentary prize
, a $20,000 award given annually by the Center for Documentary Studies.


The Lange-Taylor Prize is offered to a writer and a photographer in the early stages of a documentary project. By encouraging such collaborative efforts, the Center for Documentary Studies supports the documentary process in which writers and photographers work together to record the human story.

The prize is intended to fund collaborative work by a writer and a photographer in the formative or fieldwork stages of a documentary project. Submissions on any subject are welcome. Winners of the Lange-Taylor competition will have their work featured in Document, a periodical published by the Center for Documentary Studies, as well as in a virtual gallery on the CDS Web site. The amount of the award is $20,000.


Collaboration is essential to the nature of the work this award supports; therefore, individual submissions will not be considered. More than two people may apply as long as one of the collaborators is a writer and one is a photographer working with black-and-white or color still photography. Individuals currently associated with the Center for Documentary Studies are not eligible for the prize.

Images can originate in any format, but must be submitted digitally on cd. (No e-mail submission of images is accepted.) All written materials should be compiled in the order requested below on white 8 1/2 x 11 paper with t

he writer’s and photographer’s last names at the top of each page. The writing sample should be double-spaced, while all other written materials should be single-spaced.

Submissions should include:

  • Application form
  • Self-addressed, stamped postcard for notification of receipt of materials by CDS
  • Application fee of $35
  • One-page proposal letter describing the project and outlining work planned
  • One-page statement about the collaboratio n of the writer and the photographer. This statement should consider how the writer and photographer plan to work together on a joint project. Consider also in the statement the relationship of the project’s photographs and words. John Szarkowski observed that in Lange and Taylor’s work, “the words and images . . . supplement[ed], [did] not repeat . . . each maintained its own integrity.”
  • Writer’s ten-page sample (double-spaced) on the proposed topic and in the style intended for project. If no work at all has been done on proposed topic, the writer should provide a sample demonstrating how the subject will be developed and written in the form and style of the final project (i.e., edited oral history, descriptive narrative, poetry, etc.).
  • A brief curriculum vitae or résumé, no longer than five pages, from each applicant
  • Budget, no longer than one page, outlining how the prize money would be s pent. This may include stipends for project personnel, supplies and support materials, travel costs, and other expenses related to fieldwork.
  • Twenty images from photographer demonstrating the ability to build a body of work. Images should be in jpeg format, saved at the highest jpeg setting, and sized at 72 dpi with the longest side of the image set at 21 inches. Each jpeg should be titled with the photographer’s last name, photographer’s first name (abbreviated as needed), and image number, for example: doe_john_01.jpg. Color images should be in RGB Color mode. Compact disc and case must be clearly labeled with the photographer’s full name.
  • Caption list for photographs
  • Self-addressed, stamped 9 x 12 envelope for return of materials (please indicate on envelope which materials you would like returned, and be sure to include adequate postage). Without an SASE the Center for Documentary Studies will assume the right to retain or dispose of all materials as it chooses.

Enclose all materials in a 9 x 12 envelope and send to:

Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize Committee
Center for Documentary Studies
Duke University
1317 W. Pettigrew Street
Durham, NC 27705

Download application in PDF

Official web site: 

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