The Organized Photographer:
3 steps to scoring grants for your photography project
Make finding, tracking and applying for funding opportunities speedy and simple!
Imagine this. You’re driving down a beautiful highway. The road stretches out for miles ahead. You are filled with joy and inspiration as the music blares and the wind blasts by your open window.
Then, red and blue lights ahead. A guy in an orange vest holds a stop sign. Road block.
That’s about what it feels like to launch into an amazing new photography project you’re passionate about, only to discover a lack of financial resources to pay for it.
All this awesome creative energy slams to a halt because you have to focus on funding. You might even question if you want to keep working on the project at all.
YES, YOU DO!!
You very much do.
Don’t let your passion project whither because of the practical details of money. We got this!
The process of finding funding doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, you can break it down into three steps.
STEP 1: Pull grant opportunities into a simple tracking system
Grants are one of the best ways to gather funding for your project.
Finding them in the first place is important, sure. But even more important is having a system for tracking them so you can stay on top of due dates, requirements, and when you’ll hear back.
Using a tracking system is really important for two reasons:
- You’ll dramatically cut down your overall time investment. The initial search for photography grants is tedious and, frankly, fairly annoying. So hang on to all the critical information you find the first time you see it! Plus, you’ll have the important details for many grants on a single sheet so you can compare and select which you’ll apply for and when, at a glance.
- You can easily reference back to the random finds. There are all kinds of grants out there that you’d never find if you didn’t accidentally stumble upon them, hear about them second hand, or discover they will cover your photography efforts even though they’re really funding a different type of project. Make sure you note down the details for these random gems as soon as you see them because you might have a hard time finding them again.
If you know me at all, you know I’m a fan of spreadsheets. I keep a spreadsheet that outlines the who, how much and due dates of grants, as well as which of my projects is best suited for that grant, if my materials are in order or need to be created, and any contacts, resources or other helpful information available.
STEP 2: Gather your project materials
Applying for a grant is not a speedy task. I don’t blame you for procrastinating to the point that you’re rushing to submit your application minutes before the cut-off time.
But, there’s an easier way.
You don’t have to rush, and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every application. Make the application process as smooth and easy as possible by having your materials ready to go.
Create a folder on your computer, Dropbox account, Google Drive or wherever is convenient and keep updated versions of the common things grant applications require, including:
- Your bio
- Your CV
- A 12-25 image portfolio from your project (or, if you haven’t started yet, a portfolio from a past project that shows your style and strengths as a visual storyteller)
- Your artist statement (both a 250-word version and a one-page version)
- Your project statement (both a 250-word version and a one-page version)
- Any letters of support from partners or collaborators on your project
- A budget (more about this in upcoming emails)
When a grant deadline rolls around, you can pull from your pile of resources, plug in the details, and fire off the application with confidence and time to spare.
STEP 3: Start applying, and track your submissions
Now that you have your foundation in place, it’s time to dive into the work of completing and submitting applications.
Remember in the Focus Periods article when we talked about using set blocks of time to accomplish tasks? Now is the time to practice ’em!
Schedule one focus period per grant. Just ONE grant at a time.
This sets you up for that sweet, sweet feeling of accomplishment that comes with completing what you set out to do — which then feeds the fire for the next focus period.
The amount of time you need to set aside for your focus period will depend on the length of the grant application. But, if you have your basic materials in place, especially your statements and budget, then much of the hardest work will already be done.
Once you’ve submitted an application, update your Grant Tracker with the submission date and the grant status.
And that’s it! The whole funding conundrum tackled in a three-step process.
You can SO do this!! Blast through that road block and continue on your inspiration-filled creative journey.
If you need help, let me know. I’ve always got your back.
PS: Finding funding is one of the topics we cover in Conservation Photojournalism Intensive workshops, along with many other critical elements of seeing a project through to publication.
Gain the skills necessary to craft a photography project and get your work in front of publishers. It’s an ideal workshop for anyone passionate about conservation issues, storytelling, and making a difference with your photography!
What past students say about their experience:
“What a fantastic experience. The agenda was so well planned and organized, but allowed flexibility to seize unexpected opportunities. We all learned so much about pulling together a strong story. Jaymi and Mo were wonderful, supportive mentors. Highly recommend!” – Michelle
“The course was an extraordinary experience of learning, sharing and being creative. The challenge of developing a powerful story for an association committed by heart to the conservation of their local forests leaves me full of energy to create more stories.” – Paula
“I just finished an intensive class learning so much about how to create photographs to tell a story. The lectures during this class were very relative and properly timed. The structure of the class from pre-planning to capture were excellent. The information & experience I gained in this class will be used in all facets of my photography and the stories that I tell.” – Jeanne
“I learned far more than I imagined possible this week and can’t wait to put these new skills into action!” – Teri