The Canon Student Development Programme (CSDP) is a gateway into the competitive world of documentary photography, offering mentorships with industry legends, practical guidance and the chance to forge career-shaping relationships.
The 2023 selection process started with an open call for applicants from Europe, the Middle East and Africa, 100 of whom advanced to the mentoring stage, receiving guidance from professionals to help refine their portfolios. In September, the top 30 gathered in Girona, Spain, and Perpignan, France, for workshops, portfolio reviews and seminars, culminating at the Visa pour l'Image international festival of photojournalism. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity enabled the participants to meet and connect with some of the biggest names in the industry, including acclaimed photographers and Canon Ambassadors Aïda Muluneh, Brent Stirton and Paolo Pellegrin, Assistant Editor for International Photography at the New York Times, Gaia Tripoli, and Picture Editor and Head of Photography at The Guardian, Fiona Shields.
Finalist Fatma Fahmy said being invited to this exclusive workshop was a career-defining moment. "Building connections and networks is crucial in this field," she explains. "Working on your photography style and connecting with people who appreciate your work is essential for success."
The programme came to a close with the top five students invited to attend the Hamburg Portfolio Review in Germany. As part of their prize, the finalists also received up to €9,000 of Canon equipment and a €2,000 grant to support their professional journey.
We spoke with the five 2023 finalists to hear their thoughts on the programme and their advice for 2024's applicants, as well as hearing from CSDP judge, photojournalist and Canon Ambassador Marco Longari to discover what he found most compelling about each candidate's portfolio.