InVision Africa is a photography project of the Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) and the African Studies Centre (ASC) at Michigan State University that seeks to showcase, inspire, and contribute to positive images of and stories about Africa in the context of research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The project will be open to student photographers and students with an interest in photography from 10 African universities that are part of the AAP consortium. Students may collaborate with researchers at their universities to develop a photography project that is aligned to AAP research priority areas; or they may work on it alone. Projects will highlight research trends, innovation, and key developments in science, entrepreneurship, and arts and culture. The goal is to inspire creative engagement between research/science and culture and art.
Negative images and media stories about Africa have dominated and defined the global media space for a prolonged period, particularly in the Global North. This perpetuates and entrenches stereotypes about Africans in the Global North while overlooking and negating the positive realities of the people, communities, and countries on the continent. This project will raise awareness about the contributions to global research/science, innovation, entrepreneurship, and arts and culture that Africans are making every day. In addition to educating and raising awareness, the InVision Africa project seeks to inspire and promote creative engagement between research/science and art. Most importantly, the project seeks to improve research images that are often homogenous and not engaging. These images tend to feature workshops, meetings, group photos, and people selling food in marketplaces, further underrepresenting the depth, breadth, and complexity of the innovation, entrepreneurship, research, science, and technology taking place on the continent. Additionally, the continent's youth population is participating in the global economy in creative, innovative, and ground-breaking ways, and it is critically important to highlight this through images. Most importantly, InVision Africa provides an opportunity for youth to showcase their talents and engage with researchers and scientists in a world where trends, content creation, and information define entrepreneurship.
The project will be open to student photographers and students with an interest in photography from Michigan State University and 10 African universities that are part of the AAP consortium.
1st PRIZE: USD$1,000, Visit to Michigan State University to participate in the exhibition and networking (the visit to MSU is contingent on the winner being granted a visa, AAP does not have control over this), and Canon Camera kit;
2nd PRIZE: $750;
**3rd PRIZE: **USD$350.
The three winners will have their work promoted and highlighted on the InVision Africa website and the AAP mailing list, and on AAP consortium member social media pages.
Additionally, winners of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Prize and 22 selected participants that have submitted compelling and quality photos will have an opportunity to: 1) attend a series of virtual workshops on photography and entrepreneurship provided in partnership with the MSU African Center Studies and AAP members in Africa, 2) have their images included in an exhibition of the project at the 10 AAP African universities, ANAPRI, and MSU, and 3) have their photographs included in the Picter website archives
The Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) is a consortium of ten leading African universities—Egerton University (Kenya), Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) (Malawi), Makerere University (Uganda), Université des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines de Bamako (Mali), United States International University-Africa (Kenya), Université Cheikh Anta Diop (Senegal), University of Botswana, University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), University of Nigeria Nsukka, University of Pretoria (South Africa)—a distinguished network of African research institutes, the African Network of Agricultural Policy Institutes (ANAPRI) (Zambia), and Michigan State University in the US. AAP builds on MSU’s long-term engagement in Africa and evolving models of partnership in line with AAP’s guiding principles of accountability, equity, inclusivity, sustainability, and transparency. The consortium takes a cooperative approach to addressing global challenges by building bridges across all sectors—including universities, NGOs, government, and the private sector—disciplines, and regions; transforming institutions so they are better able to engage in equitable and sustainable partnerships; and transforming lives in Africa and beyond through engaged research and scholarship that address shared challenges.
While it is not a prerequisite, students participating in this competition are encouraged to identify and contact researchers aligned to the chosen category in their universities. For example, if a participant chooses to select a health-related area such as malaria, they are advised to identify a researcher in health to provide insight on the subject to be well informed while building a narrative. We require and encourage images that uniquely showcase strong and informed research for impact and innovation. Participants who opt not to involve researchers from their institutions must demonstrate an understanding of their chosen area of focus.
Creativity and innovation: Judges will evaluate the creativity and innovation shown in the photos. This includes how well the photos highlight the chosen theme (culture; agri-food systems; water, energy and environment; health and nutrition; youth empowerment; and education), the originality of the concept, and the uniqueness of the perspective.
Narrative: Judges will assess how well the photos tell a story and convey a message. The photos should be able to communicate their ideas effectively and provide insights into the subject matter. The narrative should be compelling and engaging.
Technical quality: Judges will examine the technical aspects of the photos, such as composition, exposure, and focus. The photos should demonstrate a high level of technical proficiency and excellence.
Relevance to the theme: Judges will evaluate how well the photos are aligned with the theme of the competition. The photos should demonstrate a deep understanding of the theme and provide insights into the chosen subject matter.
Impact: Judges will assess the impact of the photos. The photos should be able to evoke emotions, provoke thoughts, and inspire action.
Overall impression: Judges will provide an overall impression of the photos. This includes how well the photos are presented, the quality of the storytelling, and the level of creativity and innovation demonstrated.
Using these guidelines, judges can evaluate the photos submitted for the InVision Africa photography project fairly and objectively. The winners will be chosen based on the highest scores received from the judges.
TAKE NOTE AND AVOID THE FOLLOWING
Avoid photos that depict Africa as a homogenous continent with a singular culture, language, or lifestyle. Africa is a diverse continent with over 50 countries and thousands of cultures and languages. Judges will be wary of photos that perpetuate a one-dimensional narrative of Africa.
Avoid photos that depict Africa as a place of poverty, famine, and disease. While these issues exist in certain parts of Africa, judges will not solely focus on these aspects of the continent. Instead, judges will seek out photos that showcase innovation, creativity, and resilience.
Avoid photos that depict Africa as a place of conflict and violence. While conflicts and violence exist in certain parts of Africa, judges will not solely focus on these aspects of the continent. Instead, judges will seek out photos that showcase peacebuilding, community development, and social cohesion.
Avoid photos that use children inappropriately or exploitatively. Judges will be mindful of photos that use children as props or accessories. Additionally, judges will avoid photos that portray children in a negative or dehumanizing light.
Overall, judges will be mindful of the narratives and stereotypes that are often entrenched by photography and media in Africa. By promoting appropriate photos and avoiding negative stereotypes, the InVision Africa photo competition can help shift the narrative about Africa and showcase the continent's diverse and positive realities.