The Open Call for the exhibition as part of the festival’s program and the 8. Merck-Preis ended on 29 November, 2019. Thank you to all applicants!


On Darmstadt Photography Days & The Merck-Preis

The Darmstadt Photography Days (DTdF) were born out of a photographers’ initiative in 2004 and will be organized by the Art Forum of the Technische Universität Darmstadt from 2019 onwards. The international festival now counts among Germany’s most important photographic events. It sets relevant topics and promotes interdisciplinary discourse in photography. For ten days, numerous activities shed light on one thematic focus from different perspectives: Photography exhibitions, expert symposia and debates lend a unique fullness to the examination of photography. A comprehensive catalogue is published to accompany the festival.

The Merck-Preis, worth 10,000 Euro, is a central element of the festival. The handing over of the Merck-Preis to kick off the opening evening is one of the festival’s highlights. The competition’s ten finalists are presented at the Designhaus on the Mathildenhöhe, and one work is chosen for the Merck-Preis from this selection. The new feature is that, for the first time, ten finalists from the competition will be put on show together in a curated exhibition at the Designhaus on the Mathildenhöhe. As was previously the case, one work only will be selected to the Merck-Preis (10,000 Euro). The announcement and prizegiving will be performed at the festival opening at the Designhaus on 24 April at 6 p.m.

The jury

  • Alexandra Lechner (photographer/DTdF co-founder/RAY curator)
  • Ute Noll (On Photography, image editorial at DU)
  • Marcel Rauschkolb (Chairman DTdF)
  • Julia Reichelt (Director of the Kunstforum at the TU Darmstadt)
  • Prof. Dr. Kris Scholz (University of Darmstadt)
  • Gregor Schuster (photographer/DTdF co-founder)

The topic for 2020:
Bizarre Escapes – Humour in Photography

Humour and photography share more common aspects than is superficially apparent.

Both of them probe the status quo, exaggerate events and process experiences from a specifically selected viewpoint. With pointed precision, photography employs odd perspectives in order to visualize, in concentrated moments or by means of unconventional staging, the world in which we live. Only through captivated contemplation can we gain new insights. Humour charmingly takes a look at the everyday, sketching its opposite with a slightly displaced gaze, playing with superficial associations – and causing things below the surface to flare up. Humour or satire in the image are able to visualize comical situations, surprising turns and unexpected contradictions.

The distanced or displaced mode of contemplation conveys new perspectives to us – and ideally, societal action can be derived from the unexpected findings. At all events, these findings make the gravity of life more bearable and query our attitudes, values and prejudices. We look for images and series that seriously and/or comically reveal to us new viewpoints and positions.

Competition participation

The competition was open to all photographers and artists who work with the medium of photography, along with all students of art, design and photography, for example, and likewise photographic assistants. All genres of photography were permitted and to either be submitted as a self-contained series or as single images. An independent, autonomous position needed to be discernible. The Merck-Preis demands consistently performed, high-quality work up to presentation at the venue.

Closing date for entries

Entries for the fringe programme and the Merck-PRreis at the Darmstadt Photography Days 2020 had to arrive in full (postal delivery) by the end of the extended application deadline on 29 November, 2019.  An additional 10 EUR was charged for this extension (original closing date for submissions: 15 November, 2019).

Sending in works/series

Entries had to arrive in sealed packaging in conjunction with the fully completed registration form.

Works/series submitted for application had to be reflection copies. Presentation in A4 format was sufficient, but at a maximum, however, of 30 × 40 cm. Approximately 10 reflection copies could be submitted and had to be identified on the back with the author’s name and address. A description of the works/series had to be enclosed, comprising both the total number of images with definitive dimensions and form of exhibition presentation, along with a brief exposé about the work (max. half an A4 page, or approx.1,000 characters). A brief biography concerning training, exhibitions, fellowships or publications was desired.

Consignments from abroad had to be declared duty-free (content without value).

Acceptance of jury decisions

The jury’s decisions are binding. The judges’ decision is final. By registering, the participant accepted the terms and conditions described in this call for entries. Participants selected for the competition exhibition at the “Darmstadt Photography Days 2020” indicated their binding agreement to take part in the exhibition.


The festival is a non-profit event. The Darmstadt Photography Days are organized and headed by the team of the Kunstforum at the TU Darmstadt. The organizers act as intermediaries between exhibition venue and artist. They take on public relations work, the production of the exhibition catalogue, and the organization of the full festival programme. Appropriate print data must be supplied for catalogue articles. Transportation of the selected works to/from the venue will be assumed, or otherwise assisted, by the organizers in consultation with the nominees. The organizers will install the works. Appropriate hanging will be agreed in advance and adjusted to the existing facilities.

All ten nominees will be the organizers’ guests for the weekend: this comprises two overnight stays, participation in the symposium and artists’ dinner (25 April). Travel costs will be assumed up to an amount of 250 Euro.


Participation fee

Applicants from Germany and EU (SEPA):

Closing date for applications was originally 15 November, 2019 (postal delivery). The organizers collected a participation fee of 25 Euro, which was to be enclosed in the form of proof of remittance. For the extension to 29 November, 2019 (postal delivery), a sum of 10 EUR was charged in addition, therefore the participation fee was 35 EUR in total.

Applicants from other states:

Closing date for applications was 15 November, 2019 (postal delivery). The organizers collected a participation fee of 30 Euro, which was to be enclosed in the form of proof of remittance. For the extension up to 29 November, 2019 (postal delivery), a sum of 10 EUR was charged in addition, thereforethe participation fee was 40 EUR in total. The consignment of application documents had to be declared duty-free (content without value). The organizers will not meet costs that arise due to customs charges.

All required documents had to be enclosed with the works. Incomplete application documents will not be submitted to the jury. The organizers are not liable either for damage to the works sent in or for their loss.

One copy of the 2020 exhibition catalogue (sales price 25 EUR) will be sent to all applicants upon request and in return for a nominal fee of 15 EUR, regardless of selection by the jury or participation in the exhibition.

Return of works

The features of the packaging must allow it to be reused for returning the works. Works will be sent back by post. Appropriate return postage payment had to be enclosed. If an alternative form of return was desired, an indication should have been made to that effect. Regardless of return method, return shipment is performed at the respective participant’s risk following the jury’s meeting by the end of January 2020 at the latest. The receipt for the participation fee will be enclosed with the return shipment.


Applicants supplied their work(s) at their own risk. From the arrival of the works until the moment of return to the relevant participant, the organizers will not be liable either for damage to works sent in or for their loss. It goes without saying that the organizers provide assurance of careful and proper handling.

Copyright and rights on the artist’s own image

By signing the registration form, every participant provided assurance that he or she was the sole author of the submitted works, was permitted to have free disposal over the works and the rights of use existing on them, and that the images were free of third-party rights. Additionally, participants had to vouch that illustrated persons, or the owners of the rights on the illustrated works of fine or applied art, as well as authors of images out of which the submitted works had arisen through editing or redesign, had previously provably granted consent to publish and exploit the images – including journalistic reviews in the context of the festival. All patent and author rights remain with the participant. It is the task of the participant to monitor these statutory rights.

Rights of use

All submitted works may be used for the festival and its journalistic reviews. The Darmstadt Photography Days particularly have the right to exhibit the works selected by the jury for this purpose, as well as to publish them in newspapers, magazines and other publications and media – solely, however, within the scope of the festival and its journalistic reviews. Participants are unable to assert any right to usage fees for this use.

Call for entries last updated December 2019. The judges’ decision is final.

The jury

Alexandra Lechner (Photographer/Co-Founder of DTdF/RAY-Curator), Ute Noll (On Photography, Editor DU), Marcel Rauschkolb (Boardmember of DTdF), Julia Reichelt (Director of Kusntforum of TU Darmstadt), Prof. Dr. Kris Scholz (Hochschule Darmstadt), Gregor Schuster (Photographer/Co-Founder of DTdF)

The 2018 Jury – Updated picture of the 2020 Jury coming soon