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General information


OPEN CALL for submissions for Backlight Photo Festival 2017, under the theme Independence.


Please read the following information carefully before starting to fill up the application form.

General information:

OPEN CALL for photographers and artists working with lens-based media to submit their works in the Backlight Photo Festival 2017, under the theme Independence.

The call is open from April 7th to June 5th 2016. We can only accept applications submitted via this online form.

  • Deadline: June 5th 2016 12:00 pm CET.
  • Added 2.6.    -If you have problems registering your account or updating your application, primary tool for contacting us is the contact form.  If you have no reply for the request you sent via  contact in 24 hours, please only then send us email to   backlight  [ät]   Make sure to attach a screenshot of the error on your submission process. We can only submit additional time for the finishing of the application process to the ones who have registered and / or sent us the screenshot of possible technical errors before the call is closed.
  • Participation: The submission is open to all photographers and artists working with lens-based media.  
  • We are looking for photography- and lens-based projects dealing with Backlight ´17 festivals theme -Independence. Please read the theme outline below.
  • Please tell us also in writing how does your work relate to independence.  "Project description" - space and  it´s "summary" in the application form is reserved for this.
  • For the open call for Backlight Photo Festival 2017 there is no restriction regarding the age or nationality of the applicant. Also groups and collectives are accepted to participate.
  • The selected works will be presented from September 2017 at Tampere Art Museum, Museum Centre Vapriikki and Pori Art Museum  as collaborators. Exact dates and additional galleries and locations will be announced later as the details and the sufficient funding has been confirmed.
  • The works must be ready for shipment by June 2017 the latest, this is also the deadline for the files provided to the organizer in case of printing on location.
  • Finnish artists and artists based in Finland: please note that there is a separate application process as well for a touring exhibition/exhibition series in Europe during 2017. This project is part of the Backlight Photo Festival´17 and in case of sufficient funding we shall present some of the projects also in Finland during the festival. The tour taking place in Europe - Independence through the lenses (working title), is part of the programme for the centenary of Finland´s independence in 2017 (Suomi100). Please mark X to the application form, if you wish to offer your project for the Suomi100 part as well. Remember to fill in the additional information, when your works will be available for the European tour (between Jan-Dec 2017). Artists for the Independence through the lenses can also be invited to participate outside of this call.
  • Submitting projects for Backlight Photo Festival 2017 is free of charge.
  • The workers and/or persons holding a position of trust in the organising/partnering institutions are not eligible to apply.
  • The Majaoja Foundation  gives out a special Majaoja Prize, total 18.000€ (10.000€, 5.000€ and 3.000€) to three Finnish photographers. The open call jury for the Backlight Photo Festival 2017 will select the photographers for the awards by the end of 2016. The announcement of the winners will be made by the Majaoja Foundation during the Backlight Photo Festival 2017.


Theme Outline:

We are looking for proposals with critical, artistic and/or socially engaged approach and works which deliberate with – what independence nowadays stands for and how it relates to power and the ability of having an impact to the common status quo. And furthermore, how do we define, value and embrace individual and collective independence and how has the notion of independence shaped people and nations in the past?

We wish to open the theme of independence to reach beyond the thoughts related to recognized states and proclaimed brigades to ideas of peoples self-determination in relation to communities. How do we gain our self-reliance and identity as a child or as youngster? What is the future of young population in terms of economic and mental independence from their families, institutions and societies?

The role of a state in the world of global politics and economy has changed rapidly as economic viability takes over the strategic planning and as international agreements replace local people´s demands. Furthermore, when independence is gained through financial capacity and autarky, collective responsibility and equal autonomy seems often to be left behind. This easily leads to loudening discords, bitterness and spread of unsavoury ideologies and statements, discouraging independent evaluation ability.

We encourage the participants to question and re-define the different aspects of independence from the notion of self-reliance and identity, autonomies in closed communities and traditions to independence in modern societies and nation states -in (supra-) national, cultural, social, historical, gender- and status- based, financial, human, philosophical and other contexts as well as in the context of social and human structures.


How to apply:

  • Submitting projects is only possible through on-line application. 
  • Submitting the application requires registration. After registration the application and images can be uploaded and edited before final submission,
  • The application form and images must be completely filled by the deadline.
  • Images:
    • max. 10 images/application. 
    • max. 3MB/each 
    • accepted formats: PNG, JPG, GIF
    • Pixel Dimension at least 800 pixels longest side, maximum of 2000 pixels
  • Please note: if offering a video work the video cannot be sent on-line, please send us a link to your video within your application. 
  • If you are offering more than one project, please fill separate application for each project.
  • Each applicant can submit up to 3 (three) projects.


Selection process:

  • The decisions of the chosen projects will be made by Backlight ´17 OPEN CALL jury. We will inform all applicants of the decisions by October 1st 2016 the latest.
  • The amount of projects accepted to the festival is due to the festivals funding. The organizer is a non-profit association functioning on annual grants.
  • Due to the amount of applications expected the jury is not able to explain and justify the unaccepted applications.
  • For the project Independence through the lenses the artists will be selected by the festival director of Backlight. She reserves the right to invite artists for the project also outside this application process.
  • The open call jury for the Backlight Photo Festival 2017 will select the photographers for the Majaoja Prize by the end of 2016. The announcement of the winners will be made by the Majaoja Foundation during the Backlight Photo Festival 2017.


Grant of rights

  • When submitting entries, participants confirm that the material is their own and copyright has not been violated.
  • The artist warrants that third party rights are not attended. 
  • The applicant is responsible for authorizations and releases from their models and subjects.
  • The organizer has no right to use provided material in other purposes than the jury process before contacting the artists and agreeing the terms of use in writing. 


For Finnish applicants and artists based in Finland,


In addition to the open call and the exhibitions and events related to the Backlight Photo Festival taking place in Finland, Backlight will also organize exhibitions/tour in Europe during the year 2017.

Independence through the lenses (working title) is part of the programme for the centenary of Finland´s independence in 2017 (Suomi100). With the same application form Finnish applicants and artists based in Finland can also apply to take part in the European shows preliminary planned to take place in Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia between January 2017 to January 2018. For these exhibitions the artists, will be selected by the festival director of the Backlight Photo Festival.  She reserves the right to invite additional artists for these exhibitions also outside this call and to discuss the selections with the hosting institutions in Europe.



Please remember to inform clearly already when applying, when your works will be available for exhibiting in Independence Through the Lenses. You can use the space in "Additional information" for this. The exhibitions shall take place between January 2017- January 2018.  The negotiation with the hosting institutions and partners are still ongoing and there fore we can not yet confirm the dates and venues for each location.




The special Majaoja Prize in Backlight ´17 for Finnish photographers:

The Majaoja Foundation gives out a special Majaoja Prize during the Backlight Photo Festival, under the events theme independence. Three Finnish photographers from amongst the applicants of the open call for Backlight´17 will be awarded with the total sum of 18.000€ (10.000€/5.000€/3.000€/each). The open call jury for the Backlight Photo Festival 2017 will select the photographers for the awards by the end of 2016. The announcement of the winners will be made by the Majaoja Foundation during the Backlight Photo Festival 2017.


If you have questions concerning uploading the images, filling in the form or sending the application, please see FAQ for help. If the problem does not get solved or you need additional information or assistance please contact the organizer via online form in “contact”.


More information will be updated at as further details have been confirmed.