The final theme of the Leica x 1854 Commission Series, Witnesses of: Individuality, is now open

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This month we come to the final instalment of the Leica x 1854 Commission Series, which each month provides a single photographer the chance to receive £5000 to create a body of work using Leica’s world-famous equipment. The last of the three themes and the focus of this month’s call for submissions is Witnesses of: Individuality.

Individuality is a quality we all strive for on some level, whether consciously or unconsciously, through the way we present and express ourselves and the way we engage with the world around us. Though we intrinsically seek community and togetherness, we also desire to be unique. 

This desire can manifest in many ways: perhaps our clothes distinguish us from others, or our hobbies and interests deviate from the norm, or maybe the groups we belong to simply sit outside of the mainstream. Throughout history, many countercultural movements have placed individuality at the core of their belief systems, from the hedonistic surfing scene of the 60s and 70s which gave its members space to be themselves and respite from society’s constraints, to Harlem’s Ballroom scene in the 80s which gifted us with the now iconic Vogue dance form and prioritised above all else the freedom for self-expression.

© Josh Edgoose shot on Leica.

Evidently, there are many ways of understanding the theme of individuality and, this month, we are looking for photographers to share their own interpretations with us, whether cultural, social or nuanced. For your last chance to apply to the Leica x 1854 Commission Series, all that is needed at the first stage is a selection of any 10 images from your archive that give a good overview of your practice. At the shortlist stage, a 100-word proposal will be requested by Studio 1854 in response to the theme. Shortlisted photographers will then have the opportunity to further develop their proposal with guidance from Studio 1854.

© Leica Ambassador, Emily Garthwaite

The chosen photographer will receive £5000 worth of funding to produce a new body of work revolving around individuality. They will then carry out the commissioned shoot between 21 June and 12 July using equipment provided by Leica. The winner will also be awarded a free spot on the sought-after Leica Lab, an educational programme created to help aspiring photographers hone their skills.

The world-renowned Leica Lab courses focus on strategies to develop photographic narrative and are run by industry experts with years of experience in commissioning, shooting, editing and curating work. Big names including Magnum Photos’ former Global Cultural Director Sophie Wright, Autograph’s Senior Curator Renee Mussai, and photographers Liz Johnson Artur and Simon Roberts, among others, will run two-week workshops that cover themes such as community and landscape. This is an amazing opportunity to be taught by some of the industry’s finest minds and to use their guidance to enhance your visual language.

Speaking on the programme, Jason Heward, UK MD at Leica, says “Leica’s unique heritage is founded on inspiring creativity through products, places and education. Whether you are a professional, or aspiring photographer, our new intensive programme will unlock your potential. We have assembled a team of leading industry experts to mentor and fast-track you through the creative process.”

© Josh Edgoose shot on Leica.

The deadline to apply for Witnesses Of: Individuality is 27th May 2021. Submissions for this final instalment of the commission series will be judged by a panel of experts from Leica and 1854.

The commission is available exclusively to 1854 Access Members. Apply now.

Daniel Milroy-Maher

Daniel Milroy Maher is a London-based writer and editor specialising in photographic journalism. His work has been published by The New York Times, Magnum Photos, Paper Journal, GUP Magazine, and VICE, among others. He also co-founded SWIM Magazine, an annual art and photography publication.