Follow These 8 Tips When Appling For NYFA Grants for Photographers and Visual Artists


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Grants for fine art photography are few and far between these days but the New York Foundation for the Arts/NYFA for New York State based artists, photographers, writers, dancers and filmmakers is one of the few remaining resources.

Here are a few tips that might be helpful when applying.

1. Read Grant Requirements Carefully

Reading all the requirements for NYFA, or any other grant, may seem obvious, but it’s important to go over everything thoroughly. 

Start by making sure you know the deadline. For photography, the it’s usually January 14 or so, rotating every other year. To keep tray, try entering grant deadlines in a calendar program such as Outlook so it’s easy to follow. I usually check my list about twice a month to stay on top of all upcoming due dates.

Next, make sure you meet all the requirements. You need to be a resident of New York State, over 25 and have not won the grant recently.

Be sure to follow other requirements such as image size, format, the work statement length, and anything else.


Any grant organization such as NYFA or others look for ways to immediately reject an application, so spend an hour or so reading everything on the website before starting.

2. Plan Weeks or Months in Advance

Planning ahead is key to a successful application.  Waiting to the last minute makes the process more difficult than it needs to be.  Instead, plan at least one month in advance to allow enough time to organize photographs, think about the work statement, and plan other tasks.  Being rushed and submitting the application just before the deadline can result in errors or sloppy work. 

If the photographs have been color corrected and edited, and the statement is written, the whole process might take between 2 and 5 hours to complete; if not, it could take several days of preparation.

3. Research Previous NYFA Winners and Jurors

While the jurors for NYFA change for each grant cycle, it can be useful to review previous winners and jurors.  The information can be found on the NFYA web site or by conducting a Google search. Seeing who won helps understand more about what NYFA is generally looking for; you might actually know some of the winners and jurors.

4. View Additional Information

There is other helpful information online.

Be sure to read the FAQ section on the site carefully. There it stresss that the award is based solely on the work sample—the photographs—and not on a specific project.

I also came across a previously published tidbit:

“The review panelists are not thinking about how much money a filmmaker needs to make a film or a painter needs to create a painting, but to reward you for having what they consider to be a compelling vision as represented in the work you are showing them in your application.”

5. Prepare Images Carefully

  • Images must be in JPG format with .JPG extension.

  • The maximum size for each file is 4.0 MB

  • Each image cannot be no more than 1240 pixels by x 1240. 

  • DPI should be 72.

  • Images should be set as sRGB color profile.

  • Do not use any punctuation, symbols or spaces in the file names.

6. Order Photographs

Photographs are viewed four at a time; each juror sees the images on a screen in front of them. As a result, curating the first images is important, so place the strongest work first.  Also, present a very cohesive body of work.

7. Write Work Statement

The Work Statement needs to be only 200 words, so brevity and clarity is important.  As always, use descriptive language that is jargon-free.  Try modifying a previously used or existing statement as way to start.

8. Upload Images and Other Items

Upload all the images, Work Statement and Resume/Bio.  Be careful to review each image and fill out the required fields such as Title, Medium, Date, Size.

Review again all the submitted work for errors.  Remember that the jurors are looking at thousands of images and hundreds of applications, so be perfect.

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