The 2021 Arnold Newman Prize For New Directions in Photographic Portraiture

The Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Photographic Portraiture is a $20,000 prize awarded annually to a photographer whose work demonstrates a compelling new vision in photographic portraiture. In addition to the winner, the jury selects three finalists each year who are invited to participate in an exhibit at the Griffin Museum of Photography. The Prize is generously funded by the Arnold & Augusta Newman Foundation and proudly administered by Maine Media Workshops + College. The Griffin Museum of Photography hosts the annual exhibition of work by the winner and three finalists each October.



Questions? Contact Devin Fletcher: [email protected].

Congratulations to our 2020 Winner and Finalists!

Read the Arnold Newman Prize 2020 Press Release here.

2020 Winner:

Jon Henry – “Stranger Fruit”

Jon Henry is a visual artist working with photography and text, from Queens NY (resides in Brooklyn). His work reflects on family, sociopolitical issues, grief, trauma and healing within the African American community. His work has been published both nationally and internationally and exhibited in numerous galleries including Aperture Foundation, Smack Mellon, and BRIC among others. Known foremost for the cultural activism in his work, his projects include studies of athletes from different sports and their representations.

He was recently named one of LensCulture’s Emerging Artists for 2019, an En Foco Fellow for 2020 and he has also won the Film Photo Prize for Continuing Film Project sponsored by Kodak.

Images courtesy of Jon Henry

Stranger Fruit was created in response to the senseless murders of black men across the nation by police violence. Even with smart phones and dash cams recording the actions, more lives get cut short due to unnecessary and excessive violence. 

Who is next? Me? My brother? My friends? How do we protect these men?

Lost in the furor of media coverage, lawsuits and protests is the plight of the mother. Who, regardless of the legal outcome, must carry on without her child.

I set out to photograph mothers with their sons in their environment, reenacting what it must feel like to endure this pain. The mothers in the photographs have not lost their sons, but understand the reality, that this could happen to their family. The mother is also photographed in isolation, reflecting on the absence. When the trials are over, the protesters have gone home and the news cameras gone, it is the mother left. Left to mourn, to survive. 

The title of the project is a reference to the song “Strange Fruit.” Instead of black bodies hanging from the Poplar Tree, these fruits of our families, our communities, are being killed in the street.

2020 Finalists:

Michael Darough – “The Talk”

Michael Darough graduated from the University of Memphis, earning an MFA in photography in 2011. He received his BFA in photography from Arizona State University in 2007. His work explores personal and cultural identity though tableau and portraiture. Darough received a Fulbright seminar grant addressing diversity in German education, which was hosted by the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. He is a nationally exhibiting artist whose work has recently been shown at the Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis, TN, the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO and was a Silver Eye Fellowship 20 recipient. Currently he is an artist and educator working out of St. Louis, MO.



Images courtesy of Michael Darough

These images were created in response to the Black Lives Matter Movement.  The faceless men represent individuals affected by this systemic issue. Those void of the figure symbolize the stories that struggle to be told; they ones that do not receive news coverage. Incarceration rates, racial profiling and fatalities from law enforcement disproportionately affect individuals of color. Police officers have the difficult task of protecting and serving our communities. They are people we depend on in common and extreme situations. I have nothing but respect for these women and men who risk their lives daily, but every black family still has to have “the talk” with their children; especially their sons. Every few months a high-profile story emerges about another individual who is a victim of the criminal justice system. These situations have become all too common.

Social media and the digital age have given us access to see how excessive force has been used in several situations with individuals of color. These problems are not new. As a country we transitioned from slavery and Jim Crow laws to segregation to civil rights. These issues went from overt to covert. Although these matters regarding race are better than they have been in decades, we still have problems within our society that have yet to be properly addressed and fixed.

Priya Kambli – “Buttons for Eyes”

Priya Kambli received her BFA at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette and an MFA from the University of Houston. She is currently Professor of Art at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. 

In her work Kambli, has always strived to understand the formation and erasure of identity that is an inevitable part of the migrant experience, exploring the resulting fragmentation of family, identity, and culture. This began with her Suitcase Series in 2006, which referenced her journey to the United States, and her act of distilling her entire life up until then to fit within a single suitcase, which weighed about 45 Kg. The same concerns carry through to her current body of work, Buttons for Eyes. In this body of work Kambli explores broader cultural debates around migration and identity, particularly as they have been recast in the dramatically changed context of anti-immigrant rhetoric now amplified at the highest levels of government, and which has altered the context in which migrant voices like hers are heard. 

Kambli’s artwork has been well received, having been exhibited, published, collected and reviewed in the national and international photographic community. She was the winner of the inaugural Female in Focus, 2019 award – aimed at addressing the gender imbalance in the industry by highlighting the exceptional quality of work by female photographers around the world. The success of Kambli’s work underlines the fact that she is engaged in an important dialogue, and reinforces her intent to make work driven by a growing awareness of the importance of many voices from diverse perspectives and the political relevance of our private struggles.

Image courtesy of Priya Kambli

When I was a child, my inability to ever find anything, even objects right in front of me, lead to my mother’s playful question, “Do you have eyes or buttons for eyes?”. Intended as lighthearted criticism, her question summarized my inability to see, look, observe, find. Buttons for Eyes is my response to her playful yet nuanced question. A question laced with parental fear; if you can’t see, look, observe, find then how will you successfully navigate the world? Now that I am older than my mother was when she said those words, I see the world from my adopted home in the United States, and from within an environment of heightened anti-immigrant rhetoric which has altered the context in which migrant voices like mine are heard. Using the photographic lens, I strive to understand the formation and erasure of identity that is an inevitable part of the migrant experience by providing a much-needed personal perspective on the resulting fragmentation of family, identity, and culture. 

Despite these weighty issues, there is playfulness embedded in the very title Buttons for Eyes. I am imagining what we might see with our button eyes; suggesting that seeing clearly calls for seeing the world in more unusual ways. Play occurs in this work in my use of both color and natural light. These are materials to manipulate; split into sparks, smear into rainbows, and find shimmering back from the depths of powdered pigments. In this series my concern for the past that is lost to me is apparent, but so is my concern for the future and the losses that will come. And although this work mythologizes the past and present it also plays games with them. It winks, pokes and inverts – suggesting joyousness – mixed with the loss and regret that accompanies us all.

Rubén Salgado – “Solar Portraits”

Rubén Salgado Escudero was born in Madrid, Spain. He lived in the United States throughout his teenage years, graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design. In 2014 he decided to change his life completely, leaving behind a ten-year long career in 3D-character animation in Germany. Instead he leaves for Myanmar to pursue his passion for photography and document the opening of a country that had been closed to the world for more than half a century. Today he is based in Mexico.

Rubén’s works have been exhibited in over 20 cities worldwide including New York, London, Tokyo and at the Les Rencontres d’Arles photo festival in France. He is a member of The Photo Society, a community of National Geographic Magazine photographers. As an experienced lecturer, Rubén has given a TedX Talk in Beijing, and continues giving talks worldwide for National Geographic Learning, and other institutions such as Museo Soumaya in México City and the Sony Gallery in New York City. 

His projects have been published in most major international publications, and has won various international awards including the Sony World Photography Award two years in a row and the POY Latam (Picture of the Year). @rubensalgadoescudero or

All images courtesy of Rubén Salgado

The International Energy Agency estimates that roughly 1.1 billion people in the world still live without access to electricity. For many communities worldwide candles, which are both expensive and dangerous, are the only source of light available once the sun sets. As building the requisite infrastructure to connect remote and rural villages to the grid will still take a long time, solar energy is a viable and much-needed solution that has the potential to improve the lives of millions immediately. Small, inexpensive photovoltaic power (PV) systems can provide households with 12 hours of light during the night, allowing people to do more with their waking hours at no additional cost. 

Looking at the larger picture of our planet’s environment, solar energy has the potential to make a substantial positive impact on the earth’s C02 footprint. The Environmental Protection Agency shows that generating electric power causes over a third of all greenhouse gas emissions so reducing the electricity we draw from the grid means reducing carbon emissions. 

These portraits depict the lives of people, many of which for the frst time have access to electricity through the power of solar energy. Locations are chosen that have pre-existing access to solar technology, so that the storytelling expresses the direct experience of individuals within the community. Each protagonist was asked how having electricity has affected their life. The scenes have all been lit only by solar powered light bulbs, most their own, which are contributing to the improvement in these people’s standard of living. 

Solar Portraits is not only an artistic project, but has foundation support with registered non-proft (501(c)3) status for its growing social impact initiative. The series has become an educational tool, bringing workshops and creative programming to the youngest members of communities documented which leads to collaboration with reciprocity. Students build a simple solar lamp or solar art project, with a focus on opening the door for bright young minds to learn about themes of solar energy innovation, global citizenship, and personal empowerment.

Thank you to our 2020 Jurors!

  • Aline Smithson is a visual artist, editor, and educator based in Los Angeles, California. Best known for her conceptual portraiture and a practice that uses humor and pathos to explore the performative potential of photography. Aline is the Founder and Editor- in-Chief of Lenscratch, a daily journal on photography.
  • Makeda Best is the Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography at the Harvard Art Museums. Her exhibitions include: Time is Now – Photography and Social Change in James Baldwin’s America (2018) and Crossing Lines, Constructing Home: Displacement and Belonging in Contemporary Art (2019).She was most recently the 2020 juror for the Annual Exhibition of the Photographic Resource Center in Boston. She serves on the board of the CASE Art Fund.
  • Dan Winters is a photographer well-known for his celebrity portraiture, photojournalism, scientific photography and illustrations. He has won over two hundred national and international awards for his work, including a first place World Press Photo Award and the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography.  He was also honored by Kodak as a photo “Icon” in their biographical “Legends” Series.

Join us for our 2020 Arnold Newman Prize exhibition, hosted by the Griffin Museum of Photography, October 1st–23rd. Visit for details about the exhibition, as well as the reception hosted on October 8th.

The Mission

Arnold Newman had an insatiable fascination with people and the physical world around him. In his work, he constantly explored the boundaries of portraiture and embodied the spirit of artistic innovation. He was also a passionate teacher–he taught at Maine Media Workshops + College every summer for over 30 years.  In honor of Arnold’s legacy as both a photographer and mentor, The Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Photographic Portraiture recognizes excellence in a new generation of photographers by awarding $20,000 to a winning photographer and elevating the work of the winner and three finalists in press and through an exhibition at the Griffin Museum of Photography. The prize, the second largest in the United States, is designed to assist the winner in continuing the pursuit of their work and to serve as a launching pad for the next phase of their careers.  

The 2021 Call for Entries will open in the Summer of 2021.

History of the Prize

The prize was established in 2009 by the Arnold and Augusta Newman Foundation. Maine Media Workshops + College has proudly administered the prize since 2016. Beginning with the 2017 prize, three finalists are selected each year in addition to the winner. Maine Media partnered with the Griffin Museum of Photography to host an annual exhibition of work by the winner and finalists in 2018.

Since 2009, nine artists have been awarded the prize:


Credit: Greg Heisler

Arnold Newman began his relationship with Maine in the late 1970’s, traveling from his home in New York City each summer to join a host of other renowned photographers in Rockport, who were teaching at the Maine Photographic Workshops, now known as Maine Media Workshops. For Arnold, Maine was a place of inspiration and rejuvenation and the Workshops a place to see old friends, be immersed in photography and share his work and experiences through teaching. He never came to Maine for just his workshop; it was always a longer stay. For more than thirty years, Arnold and his wife Augusta were vital influences among the Workshops community.

I first met Arnold at the Workshops in the summer of 1990. On a hot summer night, I sat in the crowded Union Hall Theater to listen to his lecture, and see the images illustrating his long and extraordinary life as a photographer. It was a lecture he would give every year, and each year, he would begin by asking the young photographers in the audience if they knew of the notable subjects in his photographs – always imploring that we must know our history, telling his audience, “we learn from the past.”

It would be a very long lecture. Arnold loved to tell stories. His stories are pretty hard to beat – how many people can share with you their personal account of photographing the man responsible for curing polio ­ or, every President since Truman? Photographing Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank, on the day the Anne Frank House opened to the public or­ nearly every artist of note in the 20th century? About spending a day with Picasso? Being with Arnold was like being with a walking, talking history book.

I, like so many others in that crowded Union Hall Theater for Arnold’s slide show, was captivated by the way each image appeared to emerge from the innermost essence of the sitter. These were not ordinary pictures of people. Rather, they evinced the spirits of individuals engaged in their various pursuits, their innermost psyches, and their most honest moments. He has provided the world some of the most memorably significant and truest depictions of important figures in the areas of politics, sciences, and of course, the arts. For many admirers of these subjects, Arnold’s are the quintessential images.

During his extended visits to the Workshops, Arnold would act as an unofficial artist­ in­ residence. Many would enjoy the company of Arnold and Augusta for meals under the dining tent, where Arnold would regale his listeners with yet more stories. After all, he had a lifetime of extraordinary experiences to share! Frequently, Arnold would ask young photographers to come sit with him and would ask to see their work. On more than one occasion, one of those informal portfolio reviews launched the career of a now well­ regarded photographer.

Arnold was always a teacher, when he was in the classroom, delivering a lecture, or even just sharing a meal. To learn from Arnold, was to learn from a great master of craft, a visionary photographer and genuinely learned man. He helped many understand, in a most profound way, what it is to be an artist. I am now a teacher. My students know that I do so love to tell “Arnold” stories, stories of my time working with him ­and to recount his many stories as a way to teach history. To a great extent, it was through these stories that I learned.

The life and work of Arnold Newman have had tremendous impact on the world, on those who know him only through his photographs as well as on those who have had the great fortune to know him personally. He shared with the world his keen observations of the great figures in our history; now, he is a part of that history, and an indelible part of the history of the Workshops.

~ Elizabeth Thomsen Greenberg, Rockport, March 2010