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Call (828) 572-4898   Wed – Sat 10 AM – 4 PM

Shop Now

Candace Freeland Photography of Merit Award (for youth 18 and under)

Candace Freeland, 1952-2021

“At the age of 16, I was handed a clunky Hanimex Praktika camera and exposed my first roll of Tri-X film. My passion for the medium grew as I discovered the work of the photo-journalism masters: W. Eugene Smith, Henri Cartier Bresson, and Dorothea Lange. They were concerned photographers…with an eye attuned to those who suffer the snares of war and poverty.”

Inspired by their legacies, Candace went on to launch an award-winning photojournalism career, which included work with the Associated Press; the Charlotte Observer, US News and World Report, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other leading journals. Her photo exhibitions included Forced Out—The Agony of the Refugee in Our Time, sponsored by Amnesty International, and The Concerned Photographer, sponsored by the International Center of Photography. Candace later moved to Hawaii, where she documented more than a thousand weddings, and later to a final residence in her beloved North Carolina mountains.

The highlight of her life as a photographer was a letter in her early career from W. Eugene Smith (1918–1978), often described as the single most important photographer in the development of the editorial photo essay. “Your photographs,” he wrote, “are quite remarkable. I truly believe you can be a magnificent and honest photographic …contributor to humanity.”

Candace gave the founding gift for the Candace Freeland Photography of Merit Award. The Mitford Museum is honored to carry forth her legacy of encouragement to young photographers through this heartfelt outreach to youth.

Meet Our 2023 Jurors

Sam Abell

Sam Abell

I learned photography from my father, a teacher, at our home in Sylvania, Ohio. After graduating from the University of Kentucky, I worked for National Geographic as a contract and staff photographer for thirty-three years. In 1990, my work was the subject of a one-person exhibition and monograph titled Stay This Moment at the International Center of Photography in New York City. I have since published four collections of work: Seeing Gardens; Sam Abell: The Photographic Life; The Life of a Photograph; and Sam Abell Library. I maintain a career as a writer, teacher, and lecturer on photography.

Tim Barnwell

Tim Barnwell

My career as an Asheville-based professional photo- grapher and photography instructor spans thirty-five years. My images have appeared in magazines including Time, Newsweek, House Beautiful, US News and World Report, Billboard, Smithsonian and Mother Jones. I am the author of eight books, and my work is in several permanent collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Mint Museum of Art, the Asheville Art Museum, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Bank of America.

Jen Fariello

Jen Fariello

I’m a photographer based in Charlottesville, Virginia, specializing in fine art wedding and portrait photography since 1996. My goal is to create imagery that transcends seeing and allows you to feel. My work has been featured in many regional and national magazines, including Time, People, Rolling Stone, Southern Weddings, The Knot, Weddings Unveiled, and Southern Living.

2024 Guidelines

U.S. photographers up to the age of 18 are invited to enter black and white photos based on the theme: MY TOWN. Distinguished jurors select the annual winner of a $5,000 cash prize. We will also award two, $1,000 runner-up prizes.


  1. Contest open March 30, 2024.
  2. Contest open to U.S. youth up to age 18 as of October 1, 2024.
  3. Black and white photography only.
  4. Entrants must submit three digital images (.jpg no larger than 2MB) based on the theme: MY TOWN.
  5. Finalists will be required to re-submit winning images at a resolution that will enlarge to 11″x14″ prints.
  6. Deadline for entries – midnight EDT on August 1, 2024.
  7. Three finalists will be selected, and background checks run to confirm age and eligibility.
  8. Finalists and the winner will be recognized at a reception on September 27, 2024.

Special thanks to Tom Daly –

  • All photographers retain copyright of their work.

  • All entrants agree to the storage of their images in electronic form for the purpose of judging the competition and the private distribution of those images as required to complete the judging process.

  • The photographer warrants that the rights (of any kind) to the photograph have not previously been sold or granted to any third party.

  • The finalists grant The Mitford Museum the right to use the images in electronic form or in print for the specific purpose of promoting The Mitford Museum and its awards without restriction in any media.

  • The Mitford Museum agrees that the images will not be made available for download on any of its websites at high resolution and that all images used will be credited to the photographer. The Mitford Museum will not be responsible for unauthorized use of any image by a third party.

  • Electronic files sent as attachments will not be returned and The Mitford Museum accepts no responsibility for submissions in any other form. Prints or physical media sent as submissions will not be returned and will not be considered for judging.

The Mitford Museum

The Mitford Museum is North Carolina’s newest literary landmark.

Founded by #1 New York Times bestselling author, Jan Karon, the museum narrates the ways in which the small town of Hudson, NC, helped influence her life and work. Often called Jan’s ‘book without covers,’ the museum is a place of common ground, where people from varied backgrounds can come together to feel welcomed, cared for, and at home.

(828) 572-4898

Wed - Sat 10 AM - 4 PM

145 Cedar Valley Road
Hudson, NC 28638