How You Can Win Part of $85,000 in Getty Images Grant Money

If you ever get the feeling that photography is not valued today, it might interest you to know that Getty Images is offering $85k in three new editorial grants to support photojournalists and organizations, with an emphasis on supporting photographers whose work shines a light on important issues of our time.

I spoke with Jay Davies, Director of Photography, News EMEA at Getty Images who provided information about the grants being offered.

The first grant is the Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography: Forced Displacement, awarded to individual photographers in the form of three grants of $5,000 each. “In the past, this grant was awarded for various topics, but beginning in 2020, with the onset of the COVID-19, it seemed appropriate to create a specific theme that reflected this worldwide event. We wanted to encourage applicants to explore their own backyard. We wanted applicants to tell how the pandemic affected their communities. This matched up with travel restrictions,” said Jay.

This year, the theme is focused on Forced Displacement. Within this category, judges will be looking for visual crimes to show the impacts of people around the world being forced to flee their homes due to persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations, or seriously disturbing public order.

The submission can take the form of a photo essay. This could be a new project or a continuation of ongoing work. It’s important to note that no matter where you live, you can explore the theme of Forced Displacement. “We are definitely looking for geographic diversity. Obviously, the events in Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis are motivations, but we want it to be broader than that. We don’t want to only encourage photographers from the front lines. This category is also looking at the ripple effect of these traumatic events. There are consequences from worldwide events that trickle down to all of us, no matter how far away from the conflict we may be. There are ways to explore these stories that don’t necessarily mean running into danger or dangerous places. The human stories are important to making global change,” said Jay.

It should be noted, however, that this grant is intended for professional photographers, which are defined as those who make more than half of their income from photography. “It is possible that a part-timer could knock the socks off the jury and win this grant. But historically, the winners have been well-recognized, well-experienced photographers,” Jay said. There is a blind application process and judges are a mix of professionals from across the industry.

The second grant is the Getty Images Editorial Grant for Photography Programs and comes in the form of two $15,000 grants. These grants are awarded to organizations that support documentary photography and its practitioners, either through public engagement or professional development. The awards are intended for educational programs, workshops, exhibitions, and other initiatives that reinforce the power of photography as a journalistic medium. These grants are for organizations that are adjacent to the photo industry. “Maybe they are an exhibition space or an education program. They are enabling documentary photographers that might not have been funded otherwise,” said Jay.

The third grant is the Getty Images Inclusion Grant and comes in the form of eight grants of $5,000 each given to editorial photographers and videographers from different professional specialties. “Each grant has a different emphasis. One is for news and documentary. Another is for arts and entertainment. We have a grant for sports. Last is a grant for video and multimedia.” To note, one of the grants will be earmarked for a non-binary or transgender photographer. These grants are open to photographers around the world to promote greater diversity and inclusion within the photographic and media industries.

To ensure that these grants would be awarded to a diverse group of photographers, Getty Images has partnered with two outside organizations. One organization is Women Photograph, a professional organization that promotes greater gender representation in photography with female photographers, female-identifying photographers, and non-binary photographers. The second organization, Diversify Photo is similar in concept with a more global demographic.

Partnering with diverse organizations such as these were important for Getty Images. “We wanted to broaden the reach of our grants. Both groups maintain a database of editorial photographers of color from around the world and can help ensure that stories of importance are not being told from only one viewpoint.” Another change for Getty Images is a willingness to award grants to photographers who are not professionals. “For most of the history of our grants program, they have been professional grants only. For the past few years, we have offered inclusion scholarships for people in undergrad programs and continuing education programs,” said Jay.

For photographers interested in applying for any of the aforementioned Getty Images grants, Jay advises that you first edit your images into a strong portfolio. “While each of these grants has varying criteria, there are certain things you can do to strengthen your submission. Get input from people you trust about how that portfolio looks. There are a lot of photographers who are not good editors. Find editors and take their input.” In the case of the grants being awarded in conjunction with Women Photograph, being able to articulate the narrative of the project is key. “Show that you have told similar stories in the past. We get a lot of applicants who pitch a bold story but don’t have any evidence that they can execute a project of that scale. If you are going to propose a story about the Great Barrier Reef, at least be able to show that you have done underwater photography in the past,” Jay said.

For a project-based pitch, the judges need to understand how the money will assist the photographer in the grant. “Some people have ambitious projects that will take a large sum of money to complete and the grant may appear to be insignificant in getting the completed project. The grant must be purposeful. Some projects are very small or nearly complete and the judges may wonder what is the photographer going to do with this money. The photographer may have exhausted all of their potential for storytelling and we are wondering what else is left to do,” said Jay.

For the grants awarded in conjunction with Diversify Photo, the photographer may show a general portfolio. “Applicants have a lot of latitude to show off their talent. If you are talking about a general portfolio, showing a range of skills is key but there should still be a sense of aesthetic cohesion. Also, with this grant, they are looking for photographers who are in a pivotal moment in their career. This may be an emerging photographer who just needs a boost at this time, or, it could be someone who has recently left a staff job and is now going freelance. This grant can make a real impact on the trajectory of their career.”

More information on these and other grants can be found on the website: https://grants.gettyimages.com/. With Getty Images putting a special focus on increasing diversity and amplifying topical storytelling, there has never been a better time to apply for a grant. Applications for the latest round of grants will be open from April 1 to May 15, 2022.

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