Sunday, January 30, 2011

New ways to fund photojournalism and documentary photography

Portrait of best selling author Harlan Coben. I am working on a project photographing the creative people I admire. The question is: how to fund it?

New ways to fund photojournalists, documentary photographers and writers are emerging.

The Internet has changed the way we can communicate. It's given us a direct link – a platform and a way of interacting with audiences. It also means we can look at new ways to make money from our creative endevours.

The mainstream market and fees continues to shrink. The days of self-funding a documentary or photojournalism project, and knowing that if it was good you stood a reasonable chance of selling your work, are gone.

The way people consume information has also changed. People don't passively just read and view stories. They want to comment, to get involved with the story and to find out more if they are interested. There's a huge appetite for information and the growth of new channels (mobile and pad), make it ever easier to consume stories, view images and interact wherever you are.

So how do you go about raising funds directly from your audience. In short, you find a way to reach as many people as possible and then you offer your patrons something exclusive in exchange for their support. This basic crowd funding model can be adapted and enhanced.

One brand new example just launching for photojournalists is On their website they explain how it will work:
'Crowd funding has already proven successful in other areas, and we believe photojournalism has a large and enthusiastic following that would be willing to contribute financially when given the right incentive. offers this incentive in the form of exclusive access to top photojournalists carefully selected by a board of reviewers composed of industry professionals.'
Other examples of successful crowd sourcing used by photographers can be found on Kickstarter. On their website they say:
'Kickstarter is the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world. Every month, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.' 
Other photographers continue to self fund their projects while sending out feelers to the wider creative community for support and to increase awareness. That's how I discovered Brandon Stanton. He sent me an email and asked me to watch his youtube video about his project Humans of New York.

There is no doubt that certain projects will eventually generate interest but to make it commercially viable, cover costs and earn a living you need to get people involved and explore new ways to fund your work.

You never know how connections are going to be made and who knows who. For example I photographed Harlan Coben and some time later in Spain I gave our web address to a lady we had met. The next day she said, "I really like your picture of Harlan. He's a friend. We've known each other for many years. We met in our youth and we've always stayed in touch."

If you have an interesting project you would like to share with me please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Till soon,
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