Tips to Help You Earn $ for Photographic Equipment

Previously I described how I worked to receive over $400,000 in research funds.  I recently received more good news:  I was awarded nearly $5000 for photographic equipment (again) and thought I would share how it was done and how I plan to use this to turn into additional projects.  But first, the list of equipment:

The Latest Research Equipment

This is quite a handy list of equipment and technically the third time I have received a grant for video or photography equipment.
The first was for $1000 for extra photographic equipment, the second for $4000 in video equipment and the third $4000, for the equipment above.  The key was build up in scope over the course of six years, both in term of complexity of project and complexity of equipment.

Specifically, if you can answer the following three questions early in your school career you can build up the skills and awards necessary for advanced research and funding:

1.  What are the small, medium and large grants you wish to receive?  Take some serious time looking at the grants offered at your university and elsewhere for research equipment.  Find a small one such as those offered by a student group, a medium one such as those offered university wide, and a large one offered by a national institute and organization such as the National Institutes of Health or National Science Foundation.  You will obviously start by applying for the first  small one but keep in mind that you will eventually apply for the large one. BUT, you have to smart small in order to build a successful track record.

2.  Can you design related small, medium and large projects (e.g. a project that grows in complexity)?  Now that you have found your funding source you want to design a project that can be scaled up from small to large.  This is of course linked to the next question (who is your partner), for purposes of this exercise, think of a project that can start small and grow in scope and complexity.  For example, consider complexity in access and skill:  perhaps start by photographing a neighborhood, then photograph people in public, then people in their homes.  By starting small you will afford allow yourself time to learn skills for the research and the grant writing process.

Though this goes without saying, you also want to be sure to follow the directions EXACTLY as stated on the application.  This may seem obvious but I can’t tell you how many wonderful applications I have read that unfortunately are disqualified for not providing exactly the material needed.

3.  Who is your partner and how will your partnership grow over the years?  Finally, though not usually considered, I suggest you think long and hard about your partner.  In the case of photography, your partner is a person, family, community, town, geographic area, etc.  Pick a partner that interests you and that you could likely with for years (or decades to come).  If you enjoy urban areas, then perhaps consider an urban area that you would like to photograph.  Like the project, start small.

So what am I doing?  I have been amazed by the US-Mexico border, be it on the southern United States or in the heartland of America.  I started small (my hometown), built up to an urban community, and now am working closely with individuals both in and out of their homes.  I have received small and medium awards, and for my next one I hope to receive a large sum that will also include honorariums for the people that give me their time and views – both of which are precious commodities.

There ya go — three great tips for developing grants from their infancy to large scale.