You have a powerful idea for a photography project, but not all the funds you need to make it happen. Sound familiar?
The great news is there are many foundations, non-profits and private companies alike, who are willing to fund worthy photographers based on talent and project goals. Some offer grants for photojournalists who expose social injustices; others focus on editorial photographers who tell long-form stories.
We’ve rounded up 16 as a start to help you in your search. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, so feel free to add others to the list via the comments section!
The Siskind Foundation’s Individual Photographer’s Fellowship Grant is awarded to artists working with photography or photo-based art. With this specific grant you must be 21 years or older and a U.S. citizen. 2013 winners include Michelle Frankfurter, Wayne Lawrence, Joshua Lutz, Justin Maxon, Jenny Riffle and Sasha Rudensky. Although the application process for 2014 is closed, you can follow up to see this year’s recipients and begin to think about submissions for the 2015 award. You can check out their submission page here.
The Alexia Foundation provides grants and scholarships to photojournalists whose mission focuses on fostering cultural understanding and exposing social injustice. The Alexia Foundation awards multiple grants including a professional and student grant and a Women’s Initiative Grant. Although the submission deadline has passed, the recipient of the 2014 Women’s Initiative Grant will be announced by September 1st, 2014. Previous winners include Sebastian Liste, Farzana Hossein and Mehran Hamrahi.
The Burn Magazine Emerging Photographer Grant is provided to aid in the continuation of a photographer’s personal project, whether a documentary project or one of a more artistic aesthetic. Previous winners include Diana Markosian, Iveta Vaivode, Oksana Yushko and Maciej Pisuk. This year’s deadline is September 2nd, apply here.
The Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award is presented to photojournalists from around the world who want to pursue a long-term reportage project on a specific theme. Themes can range from focusing on an internal conflict, advocations of peace or social justice, or highlighting a gradual change within a nation. Photojournalists may only submit a portfolio highlighting their project. No written explanation is accepted as the judges believe that the images should speak for themselves.
CENTER’s Project Launch Grant is awarded to talented photographers working with a fine art series or a documentary project. The $5,000 cash award is intended to help photographers complete their respective projects and provide opportunities for professional development, press and the ability to disseminate their project. In addition to the cash award, the winner will be featured in an exhibition at the Center for Contemporary arts, receive a Lenscratch publication and more. Guy Martin was the 2014 recipient with his project titled City of Dreams. CENTER also awards a Project Development Grant, which provides financial support to fine art, documentary, or photojournalist works-in-progress. Adam Reynolds was the 2014 recipient of the grant, with his project titled Architecture of an Existential Threat. To apply for either grant, visit CENTER’s website here.
Crusade for Art is an organization that aims to inspire photographers to create new audiences who want to engage with art in a meaningful way. Their $10,000 Crusade Engagement Grant is awarded to an individual photographer or group of photographers with the most innovative plan for connecting audiences to their work. They look for projects that create a demand for photography and provide a plan to foster real connections between the photographer and the audience. Check out the Grant guidelines and FAQs here.
The Documentary Project Fund is awarded to documentary photographers who use photography as a medium for storytelling. They provide voices to impoverished and oppressed communities. The deadline for the $3,500 Emerging Vision Award and the $5,000 Established Artist Award has passed for the summer, but the program is bi-annual and the application will open up again soon. Mafalda Rakos is the March 2014 recipient of the Emerging Vision award for her vision on the issue of body image and eating disorders.
This grant, open only to photographers self-publishing on fotovisura.com, recognizes both outstanding personal projects and outstanding student projects. Judges look for photographers with powerful images and a strong dedication and commitment to their story – especially if that story is meant to affect positive change in society. The 2015 Open Call will be announced later this summer, but you can take a look at the 2014 winners here.
In partnership with Lean In, an organization whose mission is to empower and support women through community, education and group circles, Getty Images has opted to provide a $10,000 grant to a photographer whose work depicts a story of women or girls achieving their goals within their communities or personal lives. The 2013 winner was Matt Eich, for his project titled Sin & Salvation in Baptist Town. While the submission deadline for the 2014 grant has passed, the application will re-open next Spring and winners are announced every September.
Established by the members of Magnum Photos, the annual Inge Morath award is presented to a female photographer under thirty who shows exemplary prowess in the documentary photography field. The award is a means to fund a long term documentary project and is awarded each July. This July, Shannon Jansen, who won for her project titled A Long Walk. The project featured stunning shots of the shoes of refugees who fled the Blue Nile State to reach the border of South Sudan.
The John Gutmann Photography Fellowship Award is presented annually to emerging photographers that demonstrate artistic commitment in artistic photography. The award is between $5,000-$10,000 and sometimes presented to multiple photographers. To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen and nominated based on your professional accomplishments. Previous recipients include Soo Kim and Penelope Umbrico.
This grant enables documentary photographers and filmmakers to receive funding for their projects. The cash award is $5,000 for non-fiction works based on social issues such as health, poverty, oppression, war, famine or religious/political persecution. The 2014 Photography Grant recipient is Mohamed Ali Eddin, a freelance Cairo-based photojournalist. Eddin’s project, Life of Quarry Workers focused on worker exploitation in the Minya governorate in northern Egypt. Details on the application process can be found here.
The National Geographic Young Explorers Grant is unique program that provides between $2,000 and $5,000, to adventure, ancient world, animal, environment, society and culture, and space photographers. To be eligible, you must be between 18 and 25 with the desire to pursue research, conservation and exploration-based projects. There are several programs, such as the Committee for Research and Exploration (CRE), the Expeditions Council (EC), and the Conservation Trust (CT). Each program has a separate application process and awards separate grants. Application details can be found here.
The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) hosts an annual competition to provide grants to photographers, editors or online photojournalists. This contest explores all dimensions of photojournalism, from still photographs to video, multimedia and photo/video editing. Each category is presented with a separate award. The categories include contemporary issues, environment, feature, international news, portrait and personality and more. To enter, you must register here.
Awarding grants to both individuals and organizations, Open Society’s Documentary Photography Project supports photography to mobilize people around issues of justice and human rights. In contrast to many photography funders, they offer support of projects beyond documentary photography and encourage projects also around civic engagement, education, media attention, advocacy and reform. Check out their schedule for upcoming entry deadlines.
The W. Eugene Smith Grant is awarded in honor of the late prolific photo essayist, Eugene Smith. The award is to recognize exemplary talent and vision in documentary photography that highlights the human condition. The 2013 recipient was Robin Hammond, a New Zealand-based freelance photojournalist. Hammond is a consistent contributor to National Geographic, Time Magazine, NYT and Polka Magazine.
Although photography has the capacity to expose, persuade and move masses, the cost to make an impact can be high. These grants provide opportunities for photographers to not only get their work done but achieve their project goals without the concern of financial implications. Remember, there are also many crowdfunding opportunities to help cover the cost of your project including Kickstarter, gofundme, indiegogo, and rockethub.