SPAO’s 2018 Artist in Residence exhibition, featuring work by India d’Scarlett and Neeko Paluzzi (installation view)

SPAO’s 2018 Artist in Residence exhibition, featuring work by India d’Scarlett and Neeko Paluzzi (installation view)

The School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa (SPAO) invites applications for the Artist in Residence for Photographers and Photo-Based Artists. This 6-month photographic mentorship and residency is one of the most unique residencies of its kind. This residency is designed for visual artists who have previously completed formal training in visual arts and/or lens-based media and are ready to intensely focus on an aspect of their existing career or on a specific upcoming project. As a self-directed residency, artists are afforded the time and environment needed to research, experiment, and produce an on-going body of work as a professional working artist. Through an extensive residency, we provide the physical space and regular mentorship consultation designed to meet the individual needs of our participants.

6-Month Residency Dates:

Autumn facility access: October start
- includes 20 weeks of supervised technical and assistance and career development consultation meetings

Winter facility access: January start
- includes 20 weeks of supervised technical and assistance and career development consultation meetings

Summer facility access: April start
- includes 20 weeks of supervised technical and assistance and career development consultation meetings


Surrounded by an immersive photographic community, artists are given access to SPAO’s studio and multi-format darkroom for both silver gelatin and alternative printmaking. Industry standard lighting, inkjet printmaking facilities and a selection of 35mm film and digital, medium and large format film cameras are available.

*Please note: SPAO facilities will be available to residency participants according to facility availability. SPAO does not offer individual, permanent studio space.  

SPAO's Residency Coordinator as well as the Director of Education are the keys to upholding SPAO’s creative and collaborative principles and extending our creative philosophy to our artists in residency. 

SPAO's Director of Education will lead a weekly group lab session for artists, and the Residency Coordinator will meet with artists individually on a weekly basis. These sessions will provide support, technical assistance, and facilitate networking opportunities with SPAO faculty, visiting artists, curators, etc. Further mentorship assistance will be available to support residents in refining professional skills such as grant writing, artist statements, exhibition planning and artist talks.

View list of Mentorship Knowledge Resources

The residency will culminate in an exhibition of the artist’s work, a public artist talk or in the production of a catalogue or photo book. Residents may also be invited to participate in SPAO’s instructional courses and programs. Participation may take the form of a guest lecture, contribution to photography critiques, or consultation with students, as is appropriate to the resident's interests and objectives. SPAO requests that each participant donate a single artwork to our archive at the completion of their residency.

Professional Memberships:
Residency participants will receive a one-year membership to the National Gallery of Canada, which houses the new Canadian Institute of Photography.

Research Resources:
A wide range of Ottawa-based institutions offer rich photography collections and research resources, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Institute of Photography, Library and Archives Canada, the City of Ottawa Archives and Art Collection, and the Canada Council’s Art Bank.

Eligibility and Selection:
Candidates should have completed formal training in the field of photography, visual arts or equivalent. SPAO welcomes all visual backgrounds, motivations and styles.
A selection committee consisting of arts professionals will evaluate the applications. The committee will base its selection on the artistic quality of the applicant’s work, the potential impact of the residency on the applicant’s career, and the contribution to the Ottawa and Canadian arts communities.

Residency Fee: $5500

In addition to the residency fee, participants are responsible for all costs associated with their stay such as living expenses, materials and supplies, including but not limited to photographic chemistry, printing, paper and any specific facilities fees.

Accommodations are not provided by SPAO.

Funding Opportunities:

All applicants are eligible for the Jason Michaels Memorial Bursary. For more information about this bursary, please email

Each spring, SPAO awards one graduate of the SPAO full-time program the $1,500CAD Sphinx Bursary to be applied to an upcoming residency. All full-time program graduates from SPAO are eligible. Applications for this scholarship must be received by August 1 to be considered. Awards will be presented in September. Current and former SPAO students are exclusively eligible to apply for the Sphinx Bursary. To find out more, and to apply, click here.

Past participants in the residency have successfully received funding from granting bodies to help facilitate their residency.

How to Apply:

After completing the Artist-in-Residence form on the website, please submit the remaining documents and images via email to (see below). The next application deadline is November 15 for the Winter 2020 Residency; however, space is extremely limited and we encourage early applications.

1) Fill in the Artist-in-Residence form online:

2) Send remaining documents to via

  • Artist Statement (PDF)

  • CV/resume (PDF)

  • 10 digital samples of work saved as .JPG, 72dpi, sized to 1200 pixels on the longest edge. Files should not be larger than 2MB.

  • Images should be accompanied by an image list (PDF); provide the image number, title, and medium. Use this document to clarify image details.
    IMAGE SAVING FORMAT EXAMPLE: 01_untitled_inkjet_print.jpg
    IMAGE DETAILS EXAMPLE: "This is a portrait from my series Faces. I would like the final image size to be life-size, but I haven't decided how I would like to print this work yet."