Philanthropist Lisa Saltzman Is Launching an Annual Prize for Emerging Photographers

The new award will recognize emerging photographers without restrictions on age or nationality.

Ten portraits of nominated photographers
Ten emerging photographers have been nominated for the inaugural prize. Image courtesy of the Saltzman Family Foundation

Lisa Saltzman, a patron in the worlds of art and design, is launching a new prize dedicated to recognizing emerging photographers. In addition to awarding recipients $10,000, the annual Saltzman Prize will support solo exhibitions at the contemporary art fair PHOTOFAIRS New York.

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“I’m really trying to give opportunity,” Saltzman told Observer. “I know how impactful money and a show can be for photographers.”

She created the prize in partnership with the Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW), a nonprofit arts organization that will present solo exhibitions for Saltzman Prize winners at its PHOTOFAIRS booth. Saltzman hopes the initiative will aid rising stars as they break into the industry. “It’s very hard to set yourself apart and have a career,” she said.

Portrait of woman wearing white shirt and black blazer
Lisa Saltzman has also developed awards for emerging stars in design. Photo: Katya Jaworski

Who are the inaugural Saltzman Prize nominees?

The inaugural selection of award nominees spans the globe. Included among the shortlist are Eric Gyamfi, a photographer based in Accra, Ghana, who explores the medium’s materiality and chemical processes; and Patrice Aphrodite Helmar, a multidisciplinary artist from Juneau, Alaska, whose practice examines labor, class, queerness and the politics of representation. Hady Barry, Nhu Xuan Hua, Hailun Ma, Rory Mulligan, Trina Michelle Robinson, Keisha Scarville, Caroline Tompkins and Wilfred Ukpong make up the other nominees.

The prize has very few restrictions when it comes to factors like age, said Saltzman. “Somebody can be introduced to photography at any age,” she said. “They can be 60, 70—it doesn’t matter.”

This year’s recipient will be chosen by a panel that includes photographer Deborah Willis, Magnum Foundation president Susan Meiselas, and Asia Society Museum director Yasufumi Nakamori. The winner will be announced in March and celebrated at the CPW Vision Awards the following month.

Saltzman has long been involved in photography, having exhibited her work at galleries like LemoArt Gallery in Berlin and London’s Brick Lane Gallery. Her first memories with the medium occurred in childhood after she was gifted a Konica camera and tripod by her father Ralph, the late co-founder and president of textile manufacturer Designtex.

Ralph and his wife Muriel, who died in 2020 and 2022, respectively, were significant art patrons. In addition to publishing Because We Like It, a 2013 book on their art collection, the couple were donors of Florida’s Norton Museum of Art, where Ralph was also a board member. “Their love of art was really profound,” said Saltzman. “I have the same passion, and I know where it came from.”

She founded the Saltzman Family Foundation in 2020 to honor their legacy. It has since established art awards like the Ralph Saltzman Prize, which recognizes product designers and was developed in partnership with London’s Design Museum, and the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Ralph Saltzman Prize, a student design contest focused on innovative fabrics.

With the creation of the Saltzman Prize, Saltzman hopes to continue paying homage to her family. “I’m trying to really carry on my parents’ legacy as a philanthropist in my own right,” she said.

Philanthropist Lisa Saltzman Is Launching an Annual Prize for Emerging Photographers