The Imagely Fund

$5000 Grants for Humanitarian or Environmental Photography Projects

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"I believe photography can have a profound positive impact on the world. A single great image can move people and capture the urgency of a crisis. I also know first hand how hard it can be to fund worthy causes that have no commercial value. We started the Imagely Fund to support photographers who are undertaking important projects that can move the needle of public awareness for major humanitarian or environmental issues."



The next Imagely Fund competition will open in Spring 2019.

The Imagely Fund typically runs once per year. It usually opens in the spring, with award decisions made in late summer or early fall depending on the schedules of our judges. Sign up below for email updates when competitions open or winners are announced.


The Imagely Team was honored to announce award-winning humanitarian and conflict photographer Giles Clarke as the 2017 Imagely Fund Fellow.

Giles’ work documents the devastating impact of the ongoing war in Yemen. Following the 2015 takeover of Sana’a by Houthi rebels, the country has been beset by poverty, famine, food insecurity and sanitation-related diseases. In February 2018, the World Health Organization declared that the country’s already-catastrophic cholera epidemic would likely intensify following the rainy season. Destruction of critical infrastructure has inhibited access to even basic health care. The United Nations currently estimates that more than 20 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

“I am extremely humbled to have been selected as the 2017 Imagely Fund Fellow for my work Yemen in Crisis,” Giles says. “This challenging assignment for UN/OCHA would not have been possible without the logistical support and planning by the tireless OCHA teams both in Yemen and NY. Recognition for the work is so important in helping create awareness for Yemen; a country currently suffering from a full-blown humanitarian crisis and where foreign press coverage remains limited. Many thanks to all at Imagely for supporting this and my upcoming work on the region".


This grant is open to both professional and emerging photographers from any country, worldwide. The grant is focused on environmental and humanitarian photography. Applicants must be over 21 years of age and should have a proven ability to produce outstanding imagery and coherent photo essays, as well as the background necessary to carry out the proposed project. This means that for photographers planning to complete a project in a country other than their own country of origin, there should be a clear demonstration of preparation for work in that country (i.e. proper visas, contacts, language training, etc.), and preferably some experience in the country or a good deal of experience and understanding of the culture and language/customs.

This grant is open to both professional and emerging photographers from any country, worldwide. The grant is focused on environmental and humanitarian photography. Applicants must be over 21 years of age and should have a proven ability to produce outstanding imagery and coherent photo essays, as well as the background necessary to carry out the proposed project. This means that for photographers planning to complete a project in a country other than their own country of origin, there should be a clear demonstration of preparation for work in that country (i.e. proper visas, contacts, language training, etc.), and preferably some experience in the country or a good deal of experience and understanding of the culture and language/customs.

There are no application fees for this grant. The 2019 grant will launch in the Spring.

Each submission may contain only one project proposal. Each applicant may apply only once per submission cycle. Applications are not carried over to the following year. All applications must be submitted in English, online using our online form.

Only applications that meet ALL SUBMISSION CRITERIA will be judged.

Once the application and proposal has been submitted, content changes are not allowed. The Imagely Fund is not responsible for misdirected submissions. Applicants should save copies of their application for their own records.

Applicants should NOT send any hard copies or printed materials (no prints, books, CDs/DVDs or transparencies), the Imagely Fund staff will not review any of these materials, and they cannot be returned to applicants.

The application consists of two main items: a one-page project statement with a short bio, and a link to your online portfolio.

Applicants should have a professional-style website. (There are many wonderful free professional-style websites available, -- such as WordPress -- that are easy to set up.)

In general, we do not accept links to password protected galleries, or to Flickr, Picasa, or other photo sharing sites. If you want to keep your gallery separate from your other work, you can create a specific, non-public link and send that to us with your application. We occasionally make exceptions to this rule for embargoed or very sensitive projects).

Project Statement and Bio

The project statement should be 1-page, preferably as a PDF-- but MS Word is acceptable, too. Please follow these formatting guidelines. It helps our judges to quickly evaluate the hundreds of applications in a systematic manner. Please save and title your submission using your name and/or project title (i.e. Smith2017_Rocks). This makes it easier for the staff and judges to sort and find your project.

Please include the following information, in this order, in the HEADING of your project statement/bio:

Applicant's Name (first and last)
Project Title
Project Location
Applicant's Email
Applicant's Home Country
Web Address of Online Portfolio

The personal statement should describe the proposed project in detail, including:

Who or what will be photographed?

Why is this project important? Include historical, environmental, or cultural background to the project as appropriate. You should display good substantive knowledge of your subject matter.

What positive consequences might result from this project? We are interested in projects that will have a tangible impact or contribution.

What background and preparation do you have that will enable you to carry out the project? (i.e. photographic training/ background/ knowledge or training related your project)

If the proposed project will take place in a country other than your own, please describe your plans for preparations for working in the project location (i.e. visa preparations, local contacts, health vaccinations, language training, etc.).

How do you plan to spend the grant funds? Please include a paragraph outlining a rough budget/breakdown of expected costs.

Link to Online Portfolio. Each applicant should include a link (web address) to an online gallery/photo story of a coherent set of 15-25 images based around a theme or project.

Carrying out an effective project requires not just creative and technical mastery of photography, but also the ability to focus on a single project over time. You need to take time to develop knowledge about your subject matter, build any necessary relationships, and to invest the time to be present when the best photo opportunities present themselves. Your portfolio should display these qualities.

Images displayed in the online portfolio or website MUST BE TAKEN BY THE APPLICANT. Any applicant receiving a grant on the basis of images taken by someone else will be liable to repay the grant's full amount to the Imagely Fund, and will of course, forfeit the Imagely Fund Fellow title.

Following the application deadline, Imagely Fund staff will compile all complete applications that adhere to all submission guidelines.

Imagely Fund staff will perform an initial screening of all applications. Any applications that do not meet the application criteria or which are unlikely to be competitive will be removed. As this is an environmental and humanitarian photography grant, photography projects in other genres/fields will not be considered.

Qualifying top applications will be submitted to the Imagely Fund Judges for consideration.

Selection of the grantee will be based on the Judges’s determination, in their sole discretion, of the following:

Photographic skill, background and promise of the applicant (in terms of photographic vision and technique) based on the applicant's images in his/her web portfolio.

The degree to which the applicant's non-photographic background and training has prepared him/her to undertake the project.
The environmental or humanitarian significance of the project and its potential positive contributions.
The feasibility and viability of the completion of the proposed project within the projected time frame and with the grant funding.
The quality of the overall application packet.

Winners of the grant will be notified after the judging, which should be completed by late Fall 2019 (exact timing of judging is dependent on judges' schedules). The grant winners may share the news with others involved with the project, but we ask to keep news of the award confidential until the public announcement.

Disbursement of Funds, Photo Essay and Deadline for Completion of Project

Imagely Fund Grants are in the amount of $5,000. The funds are intended to help cover the costs of travel, lodging, and related expenses for roughly one-month of full time photography. The funds do not need to be spent on travel and lodging, and we certainly fund portions of on-going projects. The most important thing is that we need for you to outline how you intend to spend the funding. In general, we are interested in supporting the expenses related to the completion of the project -- rather than the purchase of a large item of photographic gear.

The funds will be disbursed in two portions. Imagely Fellows will receive $4000 up-front prior to the project. The remaining $1000 will be disbursed to the Grantee (winner) upon completion of the project and upon receipt of a photo essay/blog post (for the Imagely website) from the project.

For the final photo essay, we expect roughly 8-10 photos, along with a description of the project and how the funds were used. This photo essay will be displayed on the Imagely blog. The Grantee will have 12 months from the announcement of the award to complete his or her project and to provide Imagely Fund staff with a captioned photo essay.

Copyright and Use of Images

The Grantee (i.e. the award winner/photographer) retains (keeps) all copyright and ownership of their images resulting from the project, including the right to sell, print, or distribute images as he or she sees fit. (This means that if you win, you keep the rights to your images.)

By accepting the grant, the Grantee (the award winner) agrees, however, to give Imagely a worldwide, non-exclusive right to display the images included in the Grantee's photo essay on the Imagely website. The Grantee also gives Imagely the right to use the images from the photo essay on its website, in printed materials, or in galleries for the purpose of promoting the Imagelyi Fund. (This means that if you win, you allow us to use a small, select set of your images -- that you choose -- in our publications and on our website to promote the grant.)

The Grantee (award winner) retains all rights for licensing and selling their own images -- with the understanding and explicit agreement that a set of the images may also be used by Imagely in the manner mentioned above. (This means that if you win, you can sell your images however you like, but that you allow us to use a small set of them -- which you pick -- to promote the grant. People often ask us if we plan to sell the winner's images -- NO! We are not in the business of selling other photographer's images! The purpose of this grant is to support great photography related to environmental and humanitarian causes).

People have asked -- what would we do if a Imagely Fellow's project were to get picked up by a major publishing outlet that requires first rights or exclusive rights. Answer: We would be thrilled for our Imagely Fellow. In fact, this did happen with our wonderful 2011 Imagely Fund winner (now Imagely Fund), Paul Colangelo. His project work was embargoed, and we were okay with that. Our goal is to support great photographers, and it is very exciting for us to see great photographers succeed!


All entrants by their participation, agree to be bound by these Official Rules. Imagely reserves the right to disqualify any entrant who violates these rules, and any subsequent entries of the disqualified entrant. The laws of the United States apply to and govern this grant award and any claims must be raised and resolved in the United States. Additionally, entrants and the grant recipient agree to release, discharge, and hold harmless Imagely, Imagely Fund, and Imagely Fund Judges, their affiliates, officers, directors and employees from any liability, claims, or damages arising out of their participation in the promotion and the acceptance, use, misuse, or possession of any grant. All grant recipients, by accepting the grant, agree to the use of their name or likeness for advertising or publicity purposes without compensation, and upon request, to provide consent to such use in writing.

Imagely is not responsible for printing or typographical errors in any contest-related materials; for stolen, lost, late, misdirected, damaged, incomplete, illegible, or postage-due mail or entries; or for transactions that are processed late or incorrectly; or are lost due to computer or electronic malfunction. Imagely reserves the right to cancel or modify the competition if fraud or technical failures compromise the integrity of the offer as determined by Imagely in its sole discretion.

Taxable Compensation

The Imagely Grant is considered compensation. As such, the amount of funding that the grant recipient claims for their expenses may be subject to withholding tax. American citizens or residents should be prepared to provide a US Taxpayer Identification Number shortly after their grant is awarded, before the Awardee (winner) can receive the grant.

Imagely will provide grant recipients outside the US with information and assistance in securing this number if they do not already have such identification. Grant recipients living in the US will be supplied with appropriate reporting information in the form of a 1099. Grant recipients living in other countries will receive 1042 income reporting forms.


Imagely and Imagely Fund staff along with the Imagely Fund Judges will make every possible effort to keep applications confidential and private.

Materials and ideas contained within the application will NOT be used by Imagely the Imagely Fund, or by the Imagely Fund Judges for any purpose other than the grant review and selection process, without expressed written permission from the grant recipients. Grant recipient images may, however, be used for publicity (as outlined in this document).


You are free to undertake projects without travel. You do need, however, to make a compelling case for how you'll use the funds. We'll be happy to support the purchase of very specific equipment that is absolutely necessary for your project (i.e. underwater housing for camera for a project on endangered sharks) -- but we're not planning on buying your new Nikon.

Yes. The Imagely Fund is open to both emerging and pro photographers.

Yes. The maximum award would still be $5,000.

Yes. We can fund a project that is underway, if we are paying for a part of it that will take place after the award (i.e. someone has been working for six months on photographing, and they want funding to work on it for two more months in the fall - that we can fund). We don't fund projects which the photographer has completed prior to the application.

We are happy to fund portions of ongoing projects. We just would like to see details on how you plan to spend the money.

Yes. One page please. Your application should consist of just two items: a one-page project statement (which includes your bio and budget), and a link to your online portfolio submitted via our online form. Your entire application should fit onto one page. We want to get an overview of who you are, what you do, what your skills are, and what your project is all about -- ALL IN ONE PAGE! It's tough to whittle down such important information to one page -- but it helps keep things fair and consistent for our judges - and ensures that we don’t have loose, random pages floating around!

No. We only accept applications via our online form.

No. We have specific requirements for the application. Please see above for our requirements for submitting your Project Statement and Bio. It is important that all submissions follow this formatting to keep applications fair and consistent for the judges.

You do not need to submit photos. All you need to do is provide a link to your online portfolio when you submit your one-page project statement and bio. We'd like to see cohesive photo essays or galleries (preferably related in some way to the topic of your project). We're looking for between 15-30 images (roughly). We no longer accept password protected galleries. Please provide a specific link to your gallery.

The 2019 grant process will open in the Spring. Specific dates TBA.

We expect every applicant to have a pro-style website with galleries. There are many FREE website templates that are very easy to use. We recommend checking out the FREE WordPress templates if you're just starting to build your own site.


Each Imagely Fund grant cycle is judged by a panel of distinguished reviewers. The reviewers for the current or most recent cycle are below.

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