Above, from left to right: Nicolas Baier, Photo credit: Nicolas Baier; Clara Gutsche, Photo credit: David Miller; Thaddeus Holownia portrait, Photo credit: Karen Stentaford.

Their work may focus on different subjects, but what the three shortlisted artists for the 2024 Scotiabank Photography Award do have in common is a mastery of their craft and decades of acclaimed work.

This year’s finalists are Nicolas Baier, whose work examines the relationship between photography technology and nature; Clara Gutsche, who has spent decades providing social documentary in the form of portraiture, landscapes and interiors; and Thaddeus Holownia, whose focus on the landscape of eastern Canada reveals the fragile beauty in the world around us.

“We are very excited with our shortlist, one that was particularly difficult as all the long-listed artists were strong candidates this year,” says Edward Burtynsky, Chair of the Scotiabank Photography Award jury.

Created in 2010, the annual award has celebrated the creative vision and accomplishments of some of Canada’s most gifted contemporary lens-based artists. This year’s winner will be announced in Spring and will receive a $50,000 cash prize, a solo exhibition during the 2025 CONTACT Photography Festival and a published book of their work distributed worldwide by renowned art book publisher, Steidl. The three finalists will receive a cash prize of $10,000 each.

The shortlisted artists were selected from eight longlisted artists by a jury of distinguished members of the Canadian arts community. This year’s jury includes Edward Burtynsky, Artist, Jury Chair; Stéphane Aquin, Director, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; Andrea Kunard, Senior Curator of Photography, National Gallery of Canada; and Gaëlle Morel, Exhibition Curator at the Toronto Image Centre (TIC).

The finalists

Nicolas Baier

Levitation, 2001, chromogenic print, 244x305cm

Photo: Levitation, 2001, chromogenic print, 244 x 305 cm.

Nicolas Baier headshot

Photo: Nicolas Baier
Credit: Nicolas Baier

Nicolas Baier (b. 1967, Montreal, QC) is a conceptual artist who began his career in the early 1990s. His work is characterized by innovative use of technology including scanning, microscopic photography and scientific computer imaging programs. One of Canada’s most celebrated artists, Baier’s existentialist approach expands our understanding of the photographic. Nicolas Baier’s works are held in public and private collections including National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Solo museum exhibitions include Pareidolias at Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and the National Gallery of Canada in 2009-2010.

Nominated by Marc Mayer. 

Artist statement

"For me, my artistic practice is above all an exchange with people, an opening onto the real world that surrounds and constitutes us."

Clara Gutsche

i.	Les Soeurs Adoratrices Du Précieux-Sang, Nicolet, 1995, The Convent series 1990-1998

Photo: Les Soeurs Adoratrices Du Précieux-Sang, Nicolet, 1995, The Convent series 1990-1998, Chromogenic colour 16"x20" print.

Clara Gutsche headshot

Photo: Clara Gutsche
Credit: David Miller


Clara Gutsche has worked as a photographer, educator, and critic since she immigrated to Montreal from St. Louis in 1970. She uses the view camera to explore personal relationships through portraiture, and cultural values through urban landscapes and architectural interiors. Major exhibitions include: the Centaur Gallery (1973), Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (1973, 1975, 1979, 1995), the Yajima/Galerie (1980), the Canadian Centre for Architecture (1992), the Musée d’Art de Joliette (1998), the Center  for Creative Photography, Tucson (2000), the Musée de la Photographie à Charleroi (2001), VU, Québec (2005), and OPTICA (2022). Her critical writing has been published in Photo communiqué (1983, 1984), Vanguard (1984), C Magazine (1988), Canadian Art (1995) and Chapter 5 in Photogenic Montreal: Activisms and Archives in a Post-Industrial City (2021).

Nominated by Zoë Tousignant.

Artist statement

"In the Canadian Centre for Architecture series (1986-1987), the shape of space and light create the image structure and expressive force of the photographs."

Thaddeus Holownia

i.	Sable Island NS, 1988, Chromogenic contact print, 15.5 x 41.0 cm from the series Sable Island An Elemental Landscape 1986-1996 Collection: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

Photo: Sable Island NS, 1988, Chromogenic contact print, 15.5 x 41.0 cm.

For over fifty years, Thaddeus Holownia has approached his art form with a gentle but persistent nudge to be mindful of our imprint on the land. He is known for his long-term projects, transformed over periods, cycles, and seasons, in which he researches the natural processes of life and the inevitability of change. A keen observer of the environment, his work expresses a deep concern for nature. His reflections are poetic and subtle, meant to call our attention to how we are transformed by ideas, compromises, and ethics. He returns to a subject over years, even decades, and creates a photographic register of the transformation. He is a Research Professor in the Pierre Lassonde School of Fine Arts at Mount Allison University, where he taught for over four decades.

Nominated by Meeka Walsh.

Thaddeus Holownia headshot

Photo: Thaddeus Holownia portrait
Credit: Karen Stentaford

Artist statement

"I find inspiration in the natural history, the landscape, and the architecture of the Maritimes."

Read about the 2023 Scotiabank Photography Award finalists and winner, Dr. Ken Lum. You can see Lum's art at his solo Primary Exhibition at the Toronto Image Centre during the 2024 CONTACT Photography Festival opening May 2024.