2017 Mentor Simon Roberts reveals what to expect

The Ian Parry Scholarship grants two awards: The Award for Achievement and The Award for Potential. In addition to the $3,500 cash prize, the winner of The Award for Potential will also receive a one-year mentorship with 1998 Ian Parry alumnus and established British photographer Simon Roberts. In a new blog, Simon reveals what to expect if you win this year’s Ian Parry Scholarship.


Simon Roberts (b.1974) sat by an installation of contact sheets from his series, Motherland. EX3 Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea, Florence, Italy, October 2010.

© Francesco Niccolai


I entered the Ian Parry Scholarship in 1998 when I was studying photojournalism in Sheffield, UK, the city where I’d previously spent three years completing a BA Hons in Human Geography. Whilst photography had always been part of my upbringing, I only decided to dedicate myself to forging a career as a photographer in my early 20’s. I embraced the medium with a passion and spent my early career documenting topical and unusual human stories. One of them, a series on the life of a young boxer in Sheffield who was being touted for greatness – and who also happened to tap-dance as part of his training – proved fertile ground for my camera. The photographs I took over the course of that year resulted in my winning the Scholarship.

Receiving the Ian Parry Award proved to be a defining moment in my early career and helped propel my work to the next level. I found a group of like-minded photographic souls in the previous winners of the award, most of whom have remained firm friends. There was also a wider collegiate network of people passionate about keeping the memory of Ian Parry alive; his siblings, those running the award and the photographers who’d known and worked with Ian. All of whom proved to be a huge support to a young, green photographer who had much to learn. I received my first assignment for The Sunday Times Magazine (who I subsequently collaborated with for several years) and I found myself being introduced to other picture editors and industry figures from across Europe. It also resulted in my attending the Joop Swart Masterclass in Amsterdam in 2003.

However, my unofficial mentoring mostly taught me the huge responsibilities that come with the camera. It is for this reason that I’m delighted to be collaborating with this year’s Scholarship program and offering a year’s Mentorship Programme to the winning photographer. Over the course of the year I will be on hand to provide advice, editing support and practical guidance to the participant. Depending on logistics, this will be done via Skype or in person. There could also be an opportunity to spend some time working alongside me out of the studio in Brighton, UK, where I’m based.

I would highly recommend entering this award. There are few opportunities like this open to photographers. I look forward to working with one of you!


To learn more about Simon Roberts, please click here.