Funding Ideas for Photo Projects and Education

If you are like most photographers, you might have a shot list or list of projects you would like to accomplish that is a mile long, or a “bucket list” of courses you would like to take someday. Whether existing solely in the back of your mind, or (as in my case) on 1000 scrunched up napkins and torn-out magazine pages, they are kept alive by that little glimmer of hope that someday they will become real.

But let’s face it, some of these projects – and certainly the educational courses – will require some money.

It’s simply a fact of life that remains true despite your project ambitions and the outcome desired. Whether you want to publish a book, produce a documentary film or or earn your third master’s degree or fourth PhD, you will need some dough, some green, some scratch! However, it is important to remember that by no means does the need for funding mean that your desired goal is unattainable. In fact, once you come to understand the cost associated with a project or education, it’s simply time to start doing research and getting down to business.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to two methods for attracting funding for your project or education. Naturally, these two options may not be right for you and your situation, but if they do appeal to you, they are worth exploring. The thing that is appealing about both of these options is that they take advantage of the power of the internet and allow project creators and potential students to tap into a wide audience of people. Remember the saying “work smarter, not harder?” Well, think of these two options as the “working smarter” portion of that sentence.


 The first option is Kickstarter. In their own words, Kickstarter is  “the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.” Another apt description of what the site is all about is a “crowd-sourced fundraising site that allows artists and other creative types to make appeals for money, doled out in portions as small as $1, to finance projects.”

How does it work? Well, in a nutshell, like this:

• You have an idea for a project.
• You set up an account on
• Define your project and funding goals.
• Start raising funds.

A quick self-guided tour of their site will reveal that the types of projects people are trying to attract funding for are quite varied, ranging from photography to music to cooking to theater. The hub that all of these spokes connect to is “creativity.” After browsing the site, it might be time to un-scruntch all those napkins and magazine pages that contain your ideas. If this has your wheels turning, check out these photography projects that were funded via Kickstarter:

Tim Mantoani’s Behind Photographs book.
Afghan Box Camera Project
Dennis Manarchy’s Vanishing Cultures project

In the past couple years in our Career Training program, we have had students come to us with post-RMSP goals in mind (aside from starting their careers), such as wanting to publish a collection of images of animals in Africa, and using photography to expand land rights to the rural poor. Both of these projects could benefit from a comprehensive photography education, and both would be fitting for a Kickstarter campaign.


The second option is Graditude. Like Kickstarter, Graditude is an online platform for attracting funding. However, a major difference between the two (among others) is that Graditude is specific to funding education. From their website, Graditude believes that “everyone with the drive and talent to achieve a higher education should be given that option, regardless of their financial circumstances. …There’s a serious need for debt-free tuition assistance, especially with an economic climate that makes it harder for young adults to get the right start.”

An interesting component to Graditude is that is serves both potential students and possible donors. Students can appeal to an audience for funds which can be used at any educational institution, from Harvard to Rocky Mountain School of Photography. Donors can contribute funds to specific schools or to specific students. This is a terrific avenue for graduates of a program to give back to an institution that gave them a start. There is also a Graditude Scholarship option which “awards funds to deserving students on a regular basis.”

Often times, the students that attend our Career Training program do so after a healthy amount of time spent considering their decision. If this describes you, consider this. If you are even at all, a little bit, possibly, maybe contemplating attending Career Training, why not take advantage of the time you will spend deciding, create a profile with Graditude, and put the idea out there to your family, friends and the entire world? Of course there are no guarantees you will attract the funding you need, but what if you do? You could accomplish your goal of attending Career Training and be well on your way to a satisfying career as a professional photographer…all because of taking a risk-free chance today. Intriguing, eh?

And now for the disclaimer…

It should be mentioned that RMSP has no affiliation with either Kickstarter or Graditude, and we are presenting these two companies merely as options to explore in the search for project funding. If you, or any one you know has experience with either of these organizations, we encourage you to share in the comments below.


4 thoughts on “Funding Ideas for Photo Projects and Education

Q&A: What if education costs are less than your Coverdell IRA value? | Android Market

[…] can roll the money to another student (up to a first cousin). Add your own answer in the comments! Question by DCPete27: What if education costs are less than your Coverdell IRA value? If the educat…here is a penalty, what is the rate? Best […]

Profile photo of Barry

Barry Grivett


Thanks for sharing these creative fundraising ideas. Whether I take advantage or not, I hope someone does.

andy kemmis

Thanks Barry. Glad you found it interesting. With these two options for funding it kind of makes me want to create a project simply to try out the process. If you do ever take advantage of these options, let us know your thoughts.


Liz Giles

WOW! This was very timely as I was just having a conversation with a school advisor about how I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to afford to finish my education to reach my dream without mounting more student loan debt.
Thank you!

Comments are closed.