Grants made easy and grants made hard

\Is it my imagination or are some photography competitions almost begging for submissions? Lately, I have been inundated with calls for work! I have been gathering various these requests for submissions in order to make a blog entry on the subject. I am not sure if it was my looking for them that made me extra sensitive or maybe it might be how the web creates a kind of echo chamber so when one site lists a competition, five of my friends send me the same notification.

I know that people who run competitions need money to run them. Similarly, the folks who review such competitions (even sometimes people like me) need to get paid. Still, I tend to gravitate to the free competitions because I am less suspicious of the organization’s motives. So this blog entry focuses on competitions without entry fees (as far as I know.) There are hundreds more out there that have entry fees. My only advice on those is to approach them very realistically. Think in terms of what is the cost as compared to what you might gain, who is the juror and what are your real prospects for success putting your work in front of that person??

One such call for submissions came to me directly because I am a former recipient and their request for more applicants went like this:

The American Council on Germany is currently seeking applications from talented young journalist for its 2010 McCloy Fellowship in Journalism. McCloy Fellowships provide American journalists in early stages of their careers with the opportunity to travel overseas to conduct research and pursue stories of their own design. The fellowship provides a daily stipend of $200 for up to 21 days in Germany. An extension for up to 7 additional days of funding may be considered in special circumstances. Transatlantic airfare and pre-approved inter-city travel are also covered. If the proposed project has a wider EU context, travel may be permitted to additional EU27 countries. The application deadline for U.S. journalist is Friday April 30, 2010.

Read more at:

A McCloy Fellowship was one of the first grants I ever received and it was a great opportunity. It still probably is, though it requires a certain level of journalistic experience in order to be a serious candidate. Another competition in which I once won an award is the Hearst 8×10 Photography Biennial and it is back again. As they say:

The goal of the competition is to identify and promote new and emerging talent among photographers in the United States and abroad. All U.S. and international freelance, amateur and professional photographers and students, 18 to 35 years of age are eligible.

I was all set to apply again this year with new work, but they have added an age restriction since last year. You can read more at:

The people behind the blog, Photocrati, actually wrote me and asked me (and I am sure many others,) to spread the word about The Photocrati Fund, which they describe as:

The Photocrati Fund offers $5000 grants to non-professional photographers to undertake important humanitarian and environmental photography projects. Our goal is to identify outstanding, up-and-coming photographers and give them the resources necessary to pursue projects that will have a tangible and positive effect on the world. The application deadline is March 15, 2010, and the award will be announced in June 2010.

You can read more at:

Speaking of the environment, a number of the competitions I encountered focus directly or indirectly on environmental issues. The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management in the United Kingdom, is offering their Environmental Photographer of the Year award. They describe it as:

The Environmental Photographer of the Year program honors amateur and professional photographers who use their ability to raise awareness of environmental and social issues. The competition encourages entries that are contemporary, creative, resonant, challenging, original and beautiful. But most of all, we want your pictures to inspire people around the world to start taking care of our environment.

More at:

Also on an environmental theme, the is aimed at, as they say,

“…photographers whose unerring powers of observation capture and express the relationship between man and the environment in the most graphic form.”

Similarly, the United Kingdom based group, FotoDocument Commissions will be offering grants of (GBP) £2,500 for documentary photographers from around the world. They say:

FotoDocument is an innovative social enterprise providing an international public platform for documentary photography. Each year, they will commission documentary photographers worldwide to produce photo essays on a social, cultural or environmental theme designed to educate and inspire the viewer. Whilst the stories will expose the hard facts related to the issue, there will be an emphasis on solution-focused projects and positive outcomes. Through exposure to innovative projects happening in different countries around the world, the viewer will feel part of a growing global community who want to effect positive change. FotoDocument’s aim is to create a visual dialogue between the local and the global.

You can read more at:

This year is the first for the 2010 EPSON International Pano Awards, which is dedicated to the art of panoramic photography. Read more about that at:

Most state art councils give fellowships to artists/photographers and Rhode Island is no different. I will soon be applying for the R.I. photographer’s fellowship. Serious photographers should continually be checking on the opportunities offered by their state arts councils. Unless you live in Rhode Island, it will not do you any good, but to get an idea of what a state art council site might look like, start at: Some other states are listed at:

One site that has a good mailing list, which keeps you updated on calls for work (in all media, not just photography,) can be found at:

Yes, you have to open an account, which is free, to get their mailings, but there re some real gems in the information they offer.

A few organizations that seek work annually, but are now closed to submissions because the deadlines for this year have passed, can be found at:

In some cases, the sites appear not to work, but I think that is their way of saying “You missed the deadline.” I already have these (and more) in my calendar for next year, so as the next set of deadlines near I will be ready to apply, on time.

That idea, of putting the deadlines and the URLs in my calendar is incredibly mundane, but much of the business of photography is equally mundane. Sure, taking pictures is “the fun part,” but all the other mundane stuff that I do, day in and day out, that is what enables me to keep doing “the fun part.”

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