Born in Milan in 1928, Mario Dondero has been a passionate interpreter of humanistic photography, of testimony and civil commitment that has marked the history of the second half of the twentieth century. Moulded by the Italy of the 1950s, an era shaped by great political ideals that discovered photography as an investigative and narrative tool of society, he has worked all his life as a freelance photographer continuing his original testimonial effort, of confrontation and discovery of the world, far away from the trends of the press of his time, often tied to entertainment and to the illustrative and ‘mythopoetic’ photograph. For him, photography was a way ‘to meet men and women of different countries and origin, famous or unknown, but full of a special kind of humanity’, a way to open up to the world and to be on the side of the people. With a level style, that never sought the ‘flashy’ photo, that took refuge from scoops and sensationalism, he followed and documented the events and historical developments of his time, but above all he has seized everyday life, human relationships. We see then reportages like those on Algeria’s days of Independence, on May ’68 in France, on Berlin in ’89, on the activities of Emergency in Afghanistan in the 2000s and of the tales of farmers of the Po Valley in Italy, on life in countries like Spain or Portugal, on Mali’s villages, on Senegal, on Niger, with their subsistence economy and their cultural traditions. At the same time Dondero was also a voice in the intellectual sphere that shared his own political ideals and his social commitment, following, in particular in the fifties and sixties, the paths of a cultural time of extreme liveliness: the Nouvelle Vague and the cinema of Bertolucci and Pasolini, the artists of Piazza del Popolo in Rome, the theatre of Ionesco and the Nouveau Roman, the new horizons of critical and political thinking.

The award has therefore been created in homage to this author that has been tenaciously non-conformist, homage to the culture and tenderness of his gaze, and is destined to who tries to honour his commitment and carry forward his vision of photography. With this award, an occasion is presented to follow and value the experiences of the civil commitment of photojournalism and contemporary photography, tracing, year after year, a map of the present landscape of investigative social reportage, even by means of the arrangement of a collective exhibition tied to the award.

In a text Dondero wrote in the eighties he stated: “while the boundaries between journalism and advertising are becoming ever more ephemeral, photographic testimony is losing ground against the photography of entertainment. The technical fiction might grow, the aesthetic shell, but the internal discourse weakens. The hard and simple document is replaced by the elegant illustration, by the chromatic stain as an end in itself. What Willy Ronis called the ‘photo humaniste’, the ‘concerned picture’ dear to Simon Guttmann, the ‘photo of civil commitment’, as it has been called in Italy, seems to lose ground to images in which the attention is turned to other themes and other interests”. Hence, the Dondero Award is meant for who, among the photographers of the last few years, seeks to carry forward, in a different historical and cultural contest, this tradition.

Tatiana Agliani and Olivia Corsini


The Mario Dondero Award 2018 competition is open to all photographers over the age of 18, professional or amateur, Italian or foreigner, that operate in the field of reportage.

Each participant will have to submit from a minimum of 8 to a maximum of 12 images selected from a sole reportage on the basis of criteria at the discretion of the candidate. Each partecipant can submit only one reportage. The reportage must be unpublished and must have been created over the past three years. The images submitted, that can be in colour or black and white, must have a format between 20×30 and 24×36 (the insertion of any margin is permitted if necessary to keep intact the proportions of the original shot). The printing method can be freely chosen.

Digital or analogical manipulation to optimise and scale the images is allowed. Manipulation to take away or add elements to the original shot, however, is not allowed. It is the right of the members of the jury to exclude photos that are deemed to have been excessively manipulated.

The entry fee for the participation to the Dondero Award 2018 competition is in the amount of €20,00, to be sent by bank transfer to the attention of:

IT 13D0311111202000000033974 UBI BANCO DI BRESCIA

Compilation of the enrollment form on the webpage dedicated to the Dondero Award on the Ma.Co.F. site. (online from June 6)
Send a sealed envelope by certified mail containing:
– prints of the photos submitted for the Award (without the author’s name to guarantee anonymity)
– a CD or other storage device containing the digital copy of the images (minimum resolution 72 dpi, 1080×1920 pixels)
– a signed copy of the enrollment form
– a copy of the receipt of the entry fee bank transfer
– a brief text that presents the submitted work (optional)

The material has to be sent in a sealed envelope by certified mail to:

Ma.Co.F., Centro della fotografia italiana
To the attention of Carolina Zani
Via Moretto 78
25121 Brescia (Italia)

The jury of the Dondero Award 2018 competition will be composed of the two photographers Gianni Berengo Gardin and Uliano Lucas, the photoeditor and photography critic Giovanna Calvenzi, the journalist and photography critic Michele Smargiassi, Renato Corsini, representing the Ma.Co.F., promoting entity of the initiative, and Maddalena Fossati Dondero, representing the Dondero family.
The work of the jury will begin with the viewing of the gathered  material and will proceed with the evaluation of the works based on their pertinance with the area of interest of the Dondero Award 2018. With undisputable judgement the jury will eventually identify the winner of the Dondero Award 2018 and the name of the candidates invited to participate with their works to the collective exhibition tied to the prize.
The names and biographies of the candidates will not be in the possession of the judges.

The winner of the Dondero Award 2018 will receive a monetary reward in the sum of €3.000,00. Moreover, his photos, together with the most significant images submitted by the other participants, selected by the jury, will be displayed in a collective exhibition at the Ma.Co.F. All the candidates will receive the comunication by e-mail of the name of the winner and the name of the other authors of the photos selected for the exhibition. The images of the winner of the award will be published, together with the motivations of the jury, on the Ma.Co.F. site.

At the end of the collective exhibition and the effective closure of the Dondero Award 2018 competition, all the prints submitted will be made available for collection at the Ma.Co.F. in the days and hours open to the public.

Submission of the photographs and documentation to participate in the award competition: by and not after October 20, 2018.
Meeting of the jury: from October 25 to October 30.
Communication of the winner and the selected candidates for the exhibition: November 7, 2018.
Award ceremony and opening of the exhibition: November 10, 2018.

Copyright of the submitted photos belongs to the photographer that certifies the work as his or her own. The participant gives his or her consent to the organisers to use of the photos (always accompanied by indications of the name of the author) for promotion tied to the Dondero Award (advertisment material, web site, dissemination among press organisations). The photos will in no way be sold, commercialised or utilised for profit outside of the promotion of the award itself.

By enrolling in the contest the participant declares to be the sole author of the submitted photos and he or she assumes full responsibility of what constitues the submitted work.

The enrollment and participation is dependent on the acceptance of the terms and conditions of the present regulations.

The participant can be excluded from the competition if he or she or the material submitted does not conform to regulations.

With the enrollment in the contest the author endorses what has been set by the Dlgs 196/2003 and successive amendments. The participant thereby consents to the treatment of personal data that will be used for the comunication and the practical internal planning of the award competition itself.

Fill in the enrollment form on the webpage

Download the Award Regulations

Download the Enrollment Form