Breaking into the photography profession has never been easy. But here’s some good news. The Canon Student Development Programme offers aspiring shooters the chance to be mentored by leading industry professionals, and attend key events and workshops. And applications are now open – but not for long!

Designed to cultivate the next generation of photojournalists, the educational programme lasts between six to 12 months. Now in its sixth year, more than 1,000 students have taken part in the programme, and alumni include photojournalist Ksenia Kuleshova, who regularly works for publications including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and award-winning documentary and news photographer Michele Spatari.

The programme is open to students and interns residing in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Your portfolio should be within the genre of narrative photography and communicate societal or other contemporary issues. Applications close on 29 April. Read on to find out what’s on offer and how to get involved in this incredible programme.

What’s included: Stage 1

The Canon Student Development Programme 2022 will give 100 students mentorship from renowned photography professionals, including Nobel Peace Prize photographer Finbarr O’Reilly, National Geographic Explorer and VII agency member Anush Babajanyan, award-winning documentary photographer Laura El-Tantawy, and Magnum photographer Jérôme Sessini.

Once selected, each of the 100 students will be partnered with an expert mentor. Throughout June and July, they’ll complete three virtual sessions to refine their portfolio and project synopsis, focusing on exploring different editing options and ways to further strengthen narrative skills and develop authorial signatures.

Based on these sessions, each mentor will nominate their strongest candidates, and an independent panel will then choose a 30-strong group for the next stage of the programme.

What’s included: Stage 2

The top 30 shortlisted students will be invited to attend Canon’s prestigious workshop, which will take place in the run-up to Visa Pour L’Image in Perpignan, France, one of the world’s leading photojournalism festivals.

During the workshop, students will be exposed to a mix of lectures and practical sessions hosted by acclaimed photographers, including Canon Ambassador Paolo Verzone, who will run a masterclass on lighting techniques for portraiture.

On a penultimate day, students will take part in group portfolio review sessions hosted by experts including Benoit Baume (Fisheye), Chiara Bardelli Nonino (Vogue Italia) and Fiona Shields (The Guardian). Participants will have the opportunity to present their work and critique their peers in an exclusive knowledge-sharing forum.

On the final day, participants will attend the first day of Visa pour l’image and explore all the festival offers. Five finalists will then be selected for the final stage of the competition.

What’s included: Stage 3

In the last stage of the programme, the finalists will head to Europe’s newest development platform, the Hamburg Portfolio Review. During a three-day trip, they will each take part in four individual portfolio reviews, have their work physically exhibited at the show, and attend exclusive media appointments with key editors in the industry.

Over the following six months, they will receive longer-term mentorships and be awarded a €2,000 grant and top-of-the-line Canon equipment to support their next creative chapter.

How to apply

“It’s a great opportunity to learn from some of the best practitioners in our industry,” says Finbarr O’Reilly, programme mentor and Canon Ambassador. “The Canon Student Development Programme gives photographers in the early stages of their career direct access to some of the most experienced photojournalists, who can share what they have learned over decades of working in the field and some of the tips and techniques that they use for visual storytelling.”

“Students will learn the various stages of ideation, research, concepting, execution, then editing and sharing their work with editors and the wider public,” he adds. “In addition to the creative aspects, they also learn about the business side, to a certain extent – how to present and market yourself.”

To apply to be a part of the 2022 Canon Student Development Programme and view the entry criteria, please visit the Canon website. Submissions will be judged by a panel of editors from AFP, Getty Images and Reuters, who will decide on the initial 100-strong shortlist of the region’s most promising young storytellers. The final day for applications is 29 April 2022.

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