SELFIE, exhibition by Magida El-Kassis, Jennifer Stewart and Olivia Johnston (installation view)

SELFIE, exhibition by Magida El-Kassis, Jennifer Stewart and Olivia Johnston (installation view)

The School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa (SPAO) invites applications for the Artist in Residence for Photographers and Photo-Based Artists. This extended 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.

Residency Dates:

Autumn start - October – May (inclusive)
Winter start - January – August (inclusive)
Summer (condensed) - May  – August (inclusive)

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, state-of-the-art ink jet printmaking facilities and a selection of 35mm, medium and large format cameras are available at reasonable additional costs.

*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 is the key to upholding SPAO’s creative and collaborative principals and extending that creative philosophy to our artist in residency participants. SPAO’s Residency Coordinator will meet on a weekly basis with residency artists (twice per week for the condensed Summer residency artists) in order to provide support, technical assistance, and to 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

Scheduled studio visits will be available with SPAO’s full time faculty and arts professionals; 
Michael Tardioli, Director of Education & Mentorship, Master Printmaker
Jonathan Hobin, Creative Director, Instructor, Photo-based Artist
Jennifer Martin, Residency Coordinator, Photographer & Filmmaker

The residency will culminate in an exhibition of the artist’s work, a public artist talk or in the production of a catalog or photo book. We request that each participant donate a single artwork to SPAO’s archive at the completion of their residency. 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 residents interests and objectives.

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 + HST

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
Each spring, SPAO awards one graduate of the SPAO full-time program the $1500.00 Sphynx Bursary to be applied to the upcoming fall residency. All full-time program graduates from SPAO are eligible. Applications for this scholarship must be received by March to be considered. Awards will be presented in April. Current and former SPAO students are exclusively eligible to apply for the Sphynx Bursary. To apply, email

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

How to Apply
Completed application packages should be submitted by e-mail to There are no specific deadlines for SPAO’s Artist in Residency; however, preference is given to applicants who apply early for their residency grouping. Space is extremely limited.

Application packages must include:

  • SPAO Application Form (pdf)
  • Bio
  • CV/resume
  • 10 digital samples of work saved as .jpg, 72dpi, sized to 1200 pixels on the longest edge. Files should not be larger than 2MB.

The School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa (SPAO) was established in 2005 as an alternative for study in the photographic visual arts offerings students an intensive, community-oriented and collaborative learning experience. SPAO’s Artist Residency has been put into practice in order to provide support and structure for working photo-based artists and photographers in the Ottawa area, and beyond.