Grant competition jurors reject hundreds of applications because photographers often treat them like contest entry forms, “with a project description, but little or nothing about how they’re going to execute it or distribute the work,” says Chelsea Matiash, senior editor at The New York Times and a juror for the 2017 Getty Editorial grants.
“Jurors don’t want to know just what you want to do, but why you want to do it and how you’re going to do it,” Matiash says. “People who submit a body of work that supports the proposed idea, with a concise plan of how they’ll make the photographs and when—those applications float to the top. Specify what contacts you already have, how you will get to the story and navigate it, and how you will get access to subjects. Particularly if you haven’t started the project, jurors need to hear in your proposal how you’re going to execute it.”
She also warns photographers against long, meandering introductions to their project proposals. “When I was in photojournalism school, I had a teacher who said: ‘If you can’t tell me what you want to do in one sentence, then you don’t know what you want to do,’” Matiash says. “That’s a little brutal. It can be more than one sentence, but if you can’t tell me concisely and you have to go into all this back story [about your project], maybe it’s not a fully-formed idea yet.”
For more of Matiash’s grant-writing advice, see “7 Grant Writing Tips fro 2017 Getty Editorial Grant Juror Chelsea Matiash.”
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