The First Book Award is a photography publishing prize open to photographers who have not previously had a book published by a third party publishing house (this does not include self-published print on demand projects).

The award was established in 2012 to support emerging photographers. The call for submissions emphasises a predilection for projects conceived in book form: works that find a voice through the book.

The award is not an open submission. Each year, a diverse array of international nominators are asked to recommend suitable projects. A panel of judges, including Michael Mack and Polly Fleury (Wilson Centre for Photography), as well as two guest judges will together assess all submitted dummies, shortlisting 10 works; from the shortlist, a single project will be chosen as the winner to be published by MACK.


The 2016 winning work The Swamp, by Sofia Borges, was announced at the opening of Photo London at Somerset House, London, on the 18 May 2016. The first edition was published by MACK in time for that announcement.

The guest judges for the 2016 award were Jennifer Higgie (Frieze) and David Chandler (Professor of Photography, Plymouth University).

Award winners work with Greg Hobson on a donation of works to ensure a legacy for the project in the National Photography Collection, for which production and other expenses will be paid.

Previous winners inclde: Anne Sophie Merryman (2012), Paul Salveson (2013), Joanna Piotrowska (2014) and Ciarán Óg Arnold (2015).

The 2017 honouree will be announced on 17 May at Photo London, Somerset House.


The First Book Award 2015 is funded by Media Space, London; MACK; the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation; the John Kobal Foundation and Wilson Centre for Photography.