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Congratulations to the 2022 Passion Project grant winners

The Society of Professional Journalists Western Washington and Northwest Journalists of Color are pleased to announce the 2022 Passion Project visual journalism grant winners. 

Judges Karen Ducey, an independent photographer, writer, and videographer based out of Seattle, Washington, Michelle Li, an award winning news anchor and reporter at KSDK in St. Louis, Missouri, and Marie De Jesús, an award-winning staff photojournalist at the Houston Chronicle, provided feedback on the winning proposals.

Nate Gowdy

First place – $2,000 SPJ Western Washington Passion Project Grant

Nate Gowdy’s passion project is a photo book containing a pictorial record of the attack on the US Capitol on January 6th, 2021. The 140-page book includes 122 time stamped black-and-white photographs, with an index of contextual captions. Gowdy has spent countless unpaid hours dedicated to piecing together his self-published monograph. “I have synthesized an abundance of information into a digestible, to-the-point narrative that people who are overwhelmed by it all can follow and learn from. I have been passion project obsessed for years, investing thousands of hours and funds in unpaid work, and this is the first book of many retrospectives I have planned.”

Judges: Nate’s work shows extraordinary passion, dedication and a strong photographic style – the culmination of covering his subject over a career’s worth of time. It’s a critical and historical account of the times we live in. Excited to see what comes next! I’d encourage the photographer to develop the essay into more quiet moments of protest. Who are his subjects really? What do they do when they are not at an event? 


Olivia Vanni

Second place – $1,000 SPJ Western Washington Passion Project Grant

Olivia Vanni’s documentary project follows a professional mixed martial arts fighter Miranda Granger as she navigates her first pregnancy while continuing her training for her last fight on her professional contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. She said, “My goal with this project is to show what most don’t see when professional female athletes have children. This project documents not only Miranda’s physical changes and the struggles that come with being pregnant as an actively training female professional athlete, but also the required shift in mentality as Miranda tries to balance her professional goals with motherhood.” 

Judges: I felt personally connected to this project as mother and thinking of all the sacrifices and decisions it takes to even function as a working mother. In terms of a mother who wants to continue her sport, it’s incredibly heartfelt and powerful, taken at a time when the inequities of motherhood are front and center. I really enjoyed reading about this project.


Olivia Lyons

First place – $2,000 Northwest Journalists of Color / SPJ Western Washington Passion Project Grant 

Olivia Lyons will work on a project amplifying local cafes that are specializing in traditional drinks/brew methods, and the cultures from which they originated. “I intend to highlight local cafes throughout Seattle that focus on ethnically traditional drinks, brew methods, and the cultures from which they originated. In a society where automation, homogeny, and white-dominant culture are often seen as the norm or the way forward–I find that it is imperative to showcase these shops that are elevating diverse traditions while putting their own touch on customary coffees,” said Lyons.

Judges: Story is unique and full of potential. Showing diverse cultures through food is a wonderful topic. I look forward to the photographer getting behind the scenes and outside the shop. Appreciated that the photographer is working with a diverse local news start-up as well.


Nicholas Turner

Second Place –  $1,000 Northwest Journalists of Color / SPJ Western Washington Passion Project Grant 

Nicholas Turner’s documentary project will focus on remarkable people quietly fighting climate change in Washington. “Each day I meet remarkable people quietly working against the tide of despair. People working to reduce fossil fuels, expand clean energy, reconcile tribal rights and lead humankind towards a sustainable, clean future. A better future. But these people don’t always get the attention or scrutiny they deserve. If hope is what leads to action, perhaps shining a light on these people and their work can provide a healthy dose of optimism.”

Judges: Nicholas made me curious of who are these individuals, what motivates them and who they are in their real lives. I hope the project is not only portraits of each one, but it includes real moments from each of their lives connected to the commitment to a sustainable future.

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