Iyarkai - A Grant for Conservation and Photography

This grant is for young and emerging photographers identifying as females who look to support projects on wildlife, vegetation, land, ecology, natural resource management, ecotourism, climate crisis, and related social issues. 

Awardee | Millo Ankha

Millo Ankha is a former dentist turned artist from Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh. She works with the  mediums of writing, photography and mixed media. She is one of the grantees of the Zubaan Sasakawa peace foundation journalist grant. In her leisurely hours, she likes to daydream and watch clouds.

Komo Bekoduku is an exploration of the Indigenous vision and perspective of conservation. It is intended to document the local flora and their various uses and significance in the cultural, spiritual and medicinal practices of the Apatanis from Ziro Valley. The project aims to bridge a connection between the traditional ecological knowledge system of the indegenous apatani tribe and the modern idea of conservation and natural resource management. By looking at the cultural practices of the Apatani community through the lens of conservation the project hopes to activate a new mode of thinking about flora within the community.

Shortlist | illesha 

illesha is an interdisciplinary artist studying the geographies of the heart. She makes photographs, poems, videos, music, paper, books and drawings. Her practice is primarily concerned with landscapes, work that pushes us to reconsider the depth of our relationships to places and to each other. She is the founder of ikattha - an independent artist-run collaborative studio space that was based in Mumbai, and now is nomadic. She believes artists need to come together to articulate the invisible feelings of our time. Documents of life, proof of existence, archives of love. Her practice is a tool to walk the greatest distance we will span in our lifetimes - the journey of one heart to another, so together we may contemplate the light in the distance.

Salvador do Mundo: a highly biodiverse wetland ecosystem, a village located just east of Porvorim, Goa. Teeming with migratory birds, otters, crocodiles, bats and numerous plant species. A huge carbon store and barrier to flooding, and a place for families in the village to fish for daily catch. Like many sensitive ecosystems across the planet, the Salvador mangrove is facing immense pollution, with plastic bags and beer bottles clogging every stream and root system. In a community effort to research and collaborate towards the sustainability of Salvador do Mundo, a collective of environmental experts, activists, the panchayat, students, local farmers and artists have come together under the organization Sensible Earth. As the project artist, illesha will document and research this journey through photographs and short films, collecting an emotional environmental history of Salvador do Mundo. These will collect into a virtual ‘site’: an interactive, immersive archive of information that acts as a window to see, and feel, inside the process of a local group of humans attempting to understand and rewrite their relationship to nature.

Shortlist | Payal Kakkar

Payal Kakkar is a self-taught fine arts photographer who conveys emotion to give a new dimension to documentary photography. Born in 1975, Payal lives in Delhi and spends significant time in Goa. Her photographic work is shaped by her background as an environmentalist and a classical dancer.  She  composes her photographs to tell a story about different components in relation to one another through movement.  She tries to create a sense of interaction of different elements in the foreground and background.  Payal plays with a sense of the three and two-dimensional to create a composition that is both abstract and realistic.  The resulting image is both an external and internal reality.

Mining and Its Afterlives in Goa focuses on abandoned iron-ore mines in Goa and their environmental impact. For the last 50 years, mining waste has run off into local water bodies, polluting ancien water systems, impacting local farming, and changing local ecology. Aerial photography has empowered her with a unique perspective to document the colossal impact that humans have on fragile freshwater ecosystems. In her photographs of abandoned mines, she tries to capture the ambiguity between beauty and toxicity. This aesthetic dimension allows her to build an emotional connection to the work where realism and abstraction can sit side-by-side in the viewer’s experience of the work. Through her photographs, she wishes to expand the conversation about the human-made water crisis.

Shortlist | Seema Krishnakumar

Seema Krishnakumar is a Communication Designer, Design faculty and Documentary Photographer from the city of Trivandrum at the southern tip of India. Her visual storytelling practice has many shades of documentary photography, data and information visualisation and narratives in interactive media. She is particularly interested in topics concerning development, society, politics and environment. Currently she juggles her role as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Design, IIT Hyderabad and a PhD scholar at IDC, IIT Bombay.

Collective memory of a lost shoreline. Sea coast erosion is a reality in many parts of India. But the fast paced coastal erosion in the southern Kerala shores near Trivandrum erase memories of a mellowed past, of relaxed beaches and fishing communities. Traditionally famous for fishing and tourism, the coastal belt of Trivandrum recently saw a spike in erosion during monsoon altering the dynamics of the coast. Multi crore seaport and breakwater projects in the district bewildered the coastal equilibrium along with vagaries of climate change induced sea level rise. The proposal is an attempt to collect the fragments of a vanishing coast, its past and current concerns for survival.

Fulfillment of the grant requires:

  • Project completion within a 12 month period: Photo Story or Multimedia work or Documentary Film (final selection of 25-30 images/ 5-10 min video work) 

  • Quarterly detailed report with images/video and supporting material. 

  • Completed works to be published within 6-12 months of project completion (newspaper, magazine, self-published book) or a public exhibition, and

  • A report detailing how the money was spent in the 12th month of the grant period. 


  • The applicant must be a resident of India. 

  • There is no age restriction, although preference will be given to grant requests from young and emerging photographers. 

  • Grant sums are up to INR 2 lakh, and are payable to applicants in instalments of 25% every quarter. 

  • Proposals can be made in any Indian language including English. 

Note: Joint applications for collaborative projects undertaken by researchers, environmentalists, wildlife activists and alike working with lens based artists are encouraged. All collaborators must identify as female.

Applications are judged on:

  • The value of the project to conservation,

  • The soundness of the project proposal (clarity of purpose, achievability, concise timeline, demonstration of project management skills), and

  • The artistic and technical ability of the photographer, demonstrated by a small portfolio.

Grant Details

Costs that can be covered are:

  • Logistics, travel within India, basic accommodation

  • Consumable supplies (such as food)

  • Incidental fees (such as entry fees into national reserves)

  • Limited commercial or professional fees as a minority component

  • Processing and photographic printing costs as a minority component

  • Reasonable costs associated with the development of techniques or the fabrication of special purpose equipment or facilities (eg. hides, remote setups, etc.)

  • Payments within community groups if the project requires their cooperation and labor.  

Costs outside the scope of the grants are:

  • Travel outside India.

  • Photography for clients who will pay, or photography expressly for commercial stock

  • Projects using only existing images. 

Intellectual Property Rights

The photographer retains full copyright to the work produced. 

Note: While feedback on applications is provided where possible, grants and loans are made at the discretion of CPB Foundation, and unsuccessful applications may be declined without explanation.

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