Ever dreamed of going on assignment with a National Geographic photographer? This is your opportunity.

Jason Edwards
Photography Scholarship

Why enter

This scholarship offers amateur photographers a focus and purpose for their work; how to tell a story about a place they have visited in five images or less. Whether you win or not, this invaluable exercise will benefit your photographic storytelling and assist you to evaluate your imagery.

Experiencing what it takes to be a ‘Pro’ really opened my eyes, and provided me with the drive to turn my dream into reality. Nearly ten years later, I’m proud to be considered one of Western Canada's top commercial photographers, with a reputation for delivering images that feel authentic, and tell a story.
Nelson Mouellic, Canada

Who can enter

This scholarship is intended to help someone with a burning desire to be a professional photographer who will benefit from being mentored by Jason. It is not open to professional photographers. You need to be 18 or over at the time of the application closing deadline.

You need reasonable English language proficiency, and need to be fit and healthy enough to keep up with Jason.

The prize

Although as I’ve said I don’t usually take anyone with me into the field, every year I make ONE exception. One aspiring photographer gets to join me for a week on assignment somewhere in the world. You’ll work alongside Jason to gain invaluable field experience in everything from shot set-up, technique and composition through to insights into his many years of diverse experience.

This priceless money-can't-buy opportunity includes return economy airfare and ground accommodation, transport and food expenses. Four runners up have the opportunity for me to review their work online via a group Zoom session valued at $2,000.

Judging criteria

The instantaneous nature of digital photography is hindering people’s ability to understand why an image works or why it doesn’t. There must be a conscious desire to read the nuances of light and understand their relationship within the image; to become a sculpture, using depth of field and the placement of elements to tell a story.

Learning from Jason was a cornerstone of my career. Jason is not only a master in his craft, he lives and breathes photography. Jason managed to pull my best work out me. He knows how to ask, to encourage and to think about every assignment in a different light. Anna Zhu

Images do not need to be sequential and can be a combined over a period of time, but every image must tell a story and the images must work together to tell your larger story. Five great stand-alone images will not win. The following is what I keep in mind when I’m on assignment, so they are also my judging criteria:

  • Composition: every element should have its place, even highlights and shadows.
  • Exposure: the exposure should match the tone and mood of the image, without manipulating the integrity of the subject matter.
  • Originality: there are more images being captured in the world today, but there are fewer photographers. See it differently!
  • Story: every individual frame should tell a story, if it doesn’t then remove it. All of the images must work together to tell a larger story.
  • Depth: within the editorial constraints of the assignment, have I explored the story or only scraped the surface?
  • Captioning: do not rely on an editor seeing everything that I see in an image. Provide some background to what is happening in the frame.
  • Contribution to Photography: do the images and the story as a whole, contribute something to the ‘Art of Photography’?
  • Postproduction: limit my post-processing to reveal only what was captured. The emphasis should always be on pre-production, getting the moment right in the camera. Shoot as if I cannot fix it later!
  • Cropping: a discipline I inherited from film photography, I compose the scene in the camera that tells the story I wish to share. Again, I compose as if I cannot alter the image in postproduction.

To better understand and guidance on how to use images to tell a visual story, have a look at Jason’s book Icebergs to Iguanas.

How to enter

Because I love telling visual stories, which is actually much harder than it appears, each year I set a theme and aspiring photographers have to submit a maximum of five captioned frames together with a short essay on their work. Your story doesn’t have to be five images but should be no less than three.

Entry costs a nominal $100. This is to ensure that you’re highly motivated and focused on submitting your very best work. It goes without saying that you retain copyright of your work.

I owe much of my visual aesthetic to time spent with Jason, drawing on his lessons in visual story telling, as well as his insistence on creating images in-camera rather than at a computer. To say that this experience was life changing might sound dramatic, but he provided me with the tools to pursue a career that has given me more freedom, and fulfilment than I could have every dreamed of.
Nelson Mouellic, Canada

I usually get well over 1,000 entries but only take one single winner, so while I encourage you to participate, don’t do so lightly.

Image format

Medium resolution JPG’s (1024 x 800) are enough for the initial entry submission, but if you make the shortlist, I’ll be requesting your original RAW files to compare to what you submitted to understand any post-processing you’ve done.

Captions

Captions are important and surprisingly hard. You must include a caption for each image. You do not need to write an entire story, just give the photos context and background.

When is the trip?

Because of my intensive schedule, there is no definitive schedule, we just have to fit it into whatever is most appropriate each year. Travel and ground dates vary from year to year and the winner has to be available for the full duration - part time isn’t an option.

Subscribe to be notified when the next photography scholarship is announced.

Photography Scholarship

Ever the optimist, Jason hopes to resume the scholarship in 2022 after the COVID hiatus. Subscribe now for future scholarship news.

Jason's new 370 page book Icebergs to Iguanas has many instructive lessons on how to tell stories using images.