Our next Call-For-Entries begins in 4 days. You will have one month to get your proposal ready and submitted. Here are some tips to ensure it is as strong as it can be.
Read the directions from start to finish. We receive a lot of submissions that are incomplete or ignore the instructions. A common mistake is to forget to rename files correctly. Don’t allow us to disregard your application because of small mistakes.
Click on the Application Form on our website. It will open on your computer. Save it to your desktop before filling in. Save as you go. Perhaps, write the longer answers in a separate document and paste them in the form. Don’t forget your name and email address! (Yes, it’s happened.)
Be clear and concise in your writing. When you are describing your project proposal, give us a little background, but be sure we know exactly what your goal is with the work and how you will succeed in that goal. Many of TheDPF’s Board Members are teachers (and two of us are ex-English teachers!) and we appreciate good, clear writing. We receive a lot of submissions, and the more difficult your writing is to understand, the easier it is for us to disregard your application. Have someone proofread the whole thing before sending it in. If English is your second language, we certainly understand. Do your best and, again, get someone to proofread your writing.
If you are already in the midst of your project, be very clear about what is left to do. In additional, have a good idea about how the work is going to get out to the community. If your goal is an exhibit, ideas about where is helpful. If you are considering a publication, give us some detail about what it will be and how it will reach others. The more ways the work can be shown, the better.
Be clear about why your project is important to your community. I cannot stress how important it is that you have a stake in your work. We support projects local to you. Tell us in very clear terms why this is your community and what the work will mean.
If you are flying to another country or across the USA or in any way proposing to work very far from home, we want to know in very clear terms why the place you are going is your community. If you can’t tell us in a persuasive way, we have a problem.
When preparing the budget, spend some time really thinking about what your costs will be. While we don’t need numbers down to the penny, we want a clear feel for what it will cost to complete the work. If your budget exceeds the $5000, be clear where the rest of the funds will come from. And remember, we want you to make a profit. It is not necessary, but if you can keep costs down, that’s great. Make some money doing good work.
Your portfolio is by far the most important part of your submission. Choose wisely. Your portfolio is only as strong as the weakest image. If you are in the middle of the work, send images from the project. We give you space on the application form to describe the project you are submitting; please tell us.
If you have not begun, submit an old project (not too old!), so we can get a look at your visual style. It’s difficult if you send work that is 180° in difference from the proposed project. Looking at, for example, studio fashion work, when proposing a documentary project makes our lives a little difficult. If you have to submit photos in a different genre, please explain to us how you will work if given the grant.
When choosing photos from the project you are applying with, again, take care. Give us a feel for how the whole thing will work together. Choose the strongest stuff, even if you know they won’t all make the final cut. If you don’t have enough for a complete portfolio at this time, you can send a second body of work to go along with the newer stuff.
Do not send more images than we ask for. Label them correctly.
Do not send images via Dropbox or another service one at a time. Please, please, please, I am begging you. Put the whole submission (application form, CV, portfolio) in one folder, labeled correctly and share it with us.
Finally, I give you the advice you will almost certainly ignore: Don’t wait until the last minute. Most of you are applying for multiple grants over the year; make a check list of what to do and when to do it and check it often. Your submission is due at midnight Mountain Daylight Time. I can see when it arrives in my mailbox. Don’t waste all that good work by not knowing when the Call ends.
Good luck. We look forward to hearing from you. I can take questions about specific submissions until June 7. After that, you’re on your own.