(May 2010) National Geographic magazine has awarded its fourth annual photography grant to Chinese photographer Lu Guang to support a project documenting pollution in China and its impact on people's lives. He will receive $30,000 and access to the photographic resources of National Geographic magazine over the coming year.
Born in China's Zhejiang Province, Lu has focused on documenting major social and environmental issues in his country. His projects include essays on gold diggers, small coal mines, the SARS epidemic, drug addiction at the Burmese border, AIDS villages in Henan Province, the Qinghai-Tibet railway, industrial and chemical pollution, and the medical problem of schistosomiasis (bilharzia) along waterways.
Lu won first prize in the "Contemporary Issues Stories" category at the 2004 World Press Photo Competition in the Netherlands with his "AIDS village" essay. That year, his picture story on drug addicts in Yunnan province at the Sino-Burmese border was exhibited at the Visa pour l'Image Festival in Perpignan, France. In 2005, he was the first photographer from China to be invited by the U.S. Department of State as a visiting scholar. He won the Henri Nannan Prize for Photography in Germany in 2008 and the following year was offered a fellowship by the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, receiving its 2009 "Grant in Humanistic Photography." His work is distributed by Contact Press Images.
National Geographic magazine initiated its photography grant in 2006 as a means of supporting worthy documentary photography. Grantees are chosen based on the merit of their portfolio and proposal, regardless of whether the project would be published by National Geographic. In addition to financial support, the grantee has full access to the facilities provided to the magazine's regular contributing photographers as well as the assistance of a picture editor.
The grant was awarded for the first time in 2007 to Eugene Richards to document those profoundly affected by the conflict in Iraq. In 2008, Jonas Bendikson was recognized for a project looking at global urbanization. Last year's winner was Alessandra Sanguinetti, for her work looking at food production from farm to table.