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Call for Submissions: Photoville Overdose Project

July 15

United Photo Industries
16 Main Street, Suite B
Brooklyn, NY 11201 United States
(718) 801-8099

APPLY HERE — Deadline July 15, 2019


Needles piercing dirty, tattooed flesh. Lifeless bodies surrounded by law enforcement. Grainy black and white portraits. Family members crying in front of a coffin. These are the images of the overdose crisis. 

Overdose is currently the leading cause of death in the United States for those under 50. The visual news media has covered the crisis extensively with images that help to raise awareness, build empathy, and increase understanding of this public health crisis and its impact on families across the country. But many of the images produced and published may actually be reinforcing damaging stereotypes, stigma, and race and class divisions, that fuel the crisis and push people away from life-saving health and social services. In addition, they tend to show criminalizing approaches rather than compassionate, evidence-based health responses proven to work.

What is the role of photojournalism in the opioid crisis? Who are these photographs for? Whose story gets told and why? How has the geographic consolidation of editors impacted coverage of rural and small-town America? How does racial bias in newsrooms and the racialized legacy of the war on drugs impact the way communities of color are depicted in the overdose crisis? And can photography be used to improve public health outcomes? Can photojournalism help to reduce deaths from opioid overdoses?

Let’s find out.

United Photo Industries aims to question the main visual tropes in mainstream media coverage about drug use and overdose and challenge the factors that drive sensationalist coverage. This project will also examine the physiological effects these images have on viewers, and tough issues like consent, access, and long-term consequences of publishing images of individuals at what may be their very worst moment. The free public exhibition will premiere at Photoville 2019 in Brooklyn, NY and be accompanied with an invite-only seminar for media professionals covering this public health crisis.



United Photo Industries are seeking proposals for new and existing photojournalism projects that challenge the mainstream visual narratives of drug use and the overdose crisis. We will select 2-4 projects to be exhibited at Photoville 2019 in Brooklyn, NY. Exhibiting artists will receive an honorarium between $1,000 – $3,000 depending on project needs, travel and accommodation to attend Photoville in NYC in September, Artists may also be invited to speak about their work and the role of photography in public health efforts to combat the crisis. Funding amounts for commissioned and licensed work will be determined based on the scale and scope of the proposed project.


For more information, contact Project Manager Andrea Wise at andrea@unitedphotoindustries.com