First Book Prize in Photography Countdown Highlights Past Winners: From 2006, Danny Wilcox Frazier’s “Driftless: Photographs from Iowa”

Sale Barn Café, Kalona, 2005

Sale Barn Café, Kalona, 2005. Photograph by Danny Wilcox Frazier.

The CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography is a biennial prize that offers publication of a book of photography, a $3,000 award, and inclusion in a website devoted to presenting the work of winners of the prize. Each year a significant and innovative artist, curator, or writer in photography is chosen to judge the prize and write an introduction to the winning book, co-published by the Center for Documentary Studies and Duke University Press.

In the months preceding the fall 2013 book publication and exhibit by the 2012 First Book Prize winner, Gerard H. Gaskin, we’re taking a look back at previous winners. This month, it’s freelance photographer and filmmaker Danny Wilcox Frazier, chosen as the 2006 prizewinner by Robert Frank, one of America’s most important and influential photographers. The native Iowan’s black-and-white photographs in Driftless: Photographs from Iowa show a changing Midwest of vanishing towns and transformed landscapes in the wake of failing rural economies and a vast exodus of people, resources, and services to the coasts and cities, taking viewers into the lives of the individuals who stayed behind and continued to live there. Poetic and dark but illuminated with flashes of insight, Frazier’s Driftless was a New York Photo Award finalist for Best Photography Book of the Year and was featured in photo-eye, Photo District News, and Lens, the New York Times photo blog. In 2010, Frazier’s film version of Driftless won a Webby Award and was nominated for an Emmy in the “New Approaches to News & Documentary Programming” category.

In 2012, Deborah Willis selected Gerard H. Gaskin to win the latest prize in this important series celebrating American photography. Gaskin’s book, Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene, will be published in fall 2013, and an exhibit of his work will be on view at the Center for Documentary Studies.

To view photos from Driftless: Photographs from IowaLegendary, and other First Book Prize in Photography winners, click here.

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