Gerd Ludwig's Chernobyl project - 167% funded via Kickstarter
In a world where there is so much going on, you would expect that photojournalists would be able to gain the financing required to shoot their stories. Of course, sadly this is far from what is happening, but a new funding concept has appeared recently that may just change how photojournalism, and indeed many projects, are funded.
Emphas.is a new crowd funding website that enables photojournalists to pitch their projects directly to the public Instead of having an organisation fund a story, the idea is that a set of ordinary individuals can donate the required amount of cash needed to shoot the story. If your project need $6000 funding then it figures that you will need just 600 people to donate $10 to get the money you need. Simple. Emphas.is has already taken $15,000 in funding in its first week online.
So is this the future for funding photojournalism? Well it looks as though it offers a fresh alternative for getting the money needed and Emphas.is is not the only website doing this. Kickstarter is another website that offers a similar funding model to Emphas.is, however, Kickstarter offers that crowd sourced fund raising option to a broader range of people including artists, animators, designers, film makers, journalists, photographers, explorers and more. Like the Emphas.is system, Kickstarter requires you to raise the full amount you asked for to get the cash - all pledges are cancelled if you don't get total funding. It's all or nothing.
So far both websites seem to be doing well and i fully expect to see other websites start up that follow a similar funding model. The system isn't a totally level playing field of course. A photographer from Magnum would have the 'celebrity' status to gain funding that an ordinary snapper (like me) would not. Just being associated with Magnum or National Geographic will give you that extra kudos. That thought aside though, I do believe that this funding option will work for many. Just how many we will have to wait and see.
Photojournalists needs to cover the stories and anything that can help them do that should be encouraged. I just hope that the up and coming photographers get a fair shot at the money and don't suffer due to the attraction of funding certain better known agency and magazine photographers who are also vying for cash.