About YPA

Our Vision

YPA recognizes that all across America, there are young people who are passionate about expressing their vision of the world through photography—but every year, it becomes harder and harder for them to do so. The photography industry is chaotic and complicated, with no clear track to artistic and commercial success. Survival often depends on one’s ability to build a small business independently with limited resources and little, if any, access to advice or direction. This lack of support not only affects aspiring photographers directly, it will also have a long-term negative impact on the future of professional photography.

We believe that most “traditional” educational programs cannot adequately address the real world elements of starting a business, self-employment, marketing and building a client network, which are the essentials for success in this marketplace. YPA provides emerging media professionals with access to knowledge, resources and even contacts they need to build sustainable careers. YPA is unique in its focus on community and the fostering of direct, meaningful connections between emerging and established professionals. Our vision is to create powerful synergies between the two groups recognizing that collaboration benefits both, and ultimately energizes and advances the profession as a whole.

Program Summary

YPA’s Mentoring Program invites each participating student to explore the program’s theme over a period of 6 weeks, collaborating with team peers and mentors to produce a series of images with an accompanying short essay. The project provides students the opportunity to work with successful photographers as mentors, to fine-tune their craft, create portfolio images, develop both business knowledge and marketing skills, and explore markets for their work. At the same time, the program demonstrates the power of photography in documenting and creating support for an important environmental or social issue, while offering emerging photographers national and international exposure. 2018 was the seventh year of this popular and successful program.

Accomplishments | Facts & Features

  • 28 Scholarships and 3 Honorable Mention Awards totaling over $50,000, awarded to students representing 19 colleges and universities across the US including Yale, SVA, Art Center, Brooks and SCAD.
  • 304 students and recent graduates representing over 100 colleges and universities; mentored by 126 established professional photographers, editors and creative directors; with creative results published and exhibited nationally.
  • Local programs, national reach, international exposure: 28 North American cities; New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, New Orleans, Nashville, Minneapolis, Anchorage, etc.
  • The program reaches far beyond mentee participants. Key YPA contacts include students and recent graduates plus established editors, art buyers, creative directors and producers as well as photographers, filmmakers and other media professionals.
  • Partners include educational and industry trade organizations and foundations such as NPPA, American Society of Picture Professionals, PDN and PDNedu, Society for Photographic Education, Scholastic’s Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, AIGA, Worldstudio Foundation, Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA) and others. YPA opens the door to sponsorship opportunities targeted to emerging professionals through YPA events and programs, and specifically to our YPA21 members.
  • Schools and faculty are a major component of the YPA network. We reach out to 10 or more schools in each city targeted for a mentoring team, and generally accept students/recent graduates from 3 or more schools in each selected city.
  • Alumni of our mentoring programs represent well over 100 colleges and universities, with recommendations from multiple professors for each student applicant.