Photography Projects That Inspire: February Edition

Photography Projects That Inspire: February Edition

Every month, we’re on a mission to find photographers who are telling great stories, supporting important causes, and raising awareness about their personal projects. We donate to the projects we’re inspired by and call this effort “Funded by PhotoShelter.” At the end of last year, we even created a short video featuring a handful that really moved us. Check it out if you missed it.

Here are a few photography projects we discovered this month. We hope these get your wheels turning about your own stories you can share.

Project: Denver in Color
Photographers: Jason Davis and Jonathan Castner
Original Goal: $10,500
Amount Raised: $10,625

About the project: Denver In Color is fueled by the history of racism between blacks and whites in America, in addition to the recent incidents of discrimination reported by the media. For this project, interracial couples in the Denver metro area were photographed and interviewed about their experiences. Many expressed a common conclusion; The people of Denver tend to be more approving of their relationships than most places they’ve lived.

This acceptance was the inspiration behind Denver in Color. The purpose of the project was to give these couples a voice and show the world that love exists regardless of race. Says co-creator Jason Davis, “Society has much to learn from the experiences of these interracial couples. Through portraits and excerpts taken from the interviews, these couples can be the perfect example of how to overcome nearly any obstacle that stands in the way of love and happiness.”

photo by: Jonathan Castner

After surpassing their Kickstarter goal by over $600, we caught up with Jonathan and Jason to get their tips for a successful crowdfunding campaign, plus what’s in store for them next.

Do you have any advice for photographers interested in using Kickstarter to fund a project?

Jonathan and Jason: When crowdfunding through a platform like Kickstarter, photographers should keep in mind a few things:

  1. Have a very realistic understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish. Whether it’s funding a print book or launching a complex and expensive project, don’t underestimate what funds you need to make it happen. Good accounting will go a long way. Otherwise you will not get enough to make it work or, worse, you’ll ask for more than you need and set a funding goal that can’t be met. Since Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing situation, if you ask for, say, $20,000, and only get $18,700 in donations, then you end up with nothing for your project.
  2. When considering rewards for your donors, remember that those rewards are real costs to you and need to be figured into your overall funding goal. For example, if you are giving away something that costs $30 for a donation of $50, then you are really only getting about $15 from that $50 donation (once you figure the cost of shipping). You could have a bunch of money donated to your campaign but after expenses, not have enough to actually produce your project.
  3. Understand that in order to get your project funded, having a good project is just the beginning. You also need a solid sales pitch on your page and a marketing plan to help drive people to your Kickstarter campaign. Marketing the campaign is critical and will take up a lot of time, but it’s important to do if you want the funding you’re looking for.

What’s next?

Jason: Depending on the response and success of Denver In Color, I would like to expand to other cities across the U.S. and initiate social movements leading up to photojournalism books such as Atlanta in Color, Miami in Color, NYC in Color, L.A. in Color, etc.

Through Denver In Color, I have been able to get involved in the community hosting annual Loving Day Celebration’s since 2012, a day to commemorate the Loving vs. Virginia Supreme Court case in 1967 that legalized interracial marriage. The goals of Loving Day Celebrations are to fight racial prejudice by building multicultural awareness and creating a common connection between people of different races. The largest one happens in NYC every year in June.

Jonathan: I’m currently working on three long term projects. The first is “Portraits Of The New American West.” It’s a series of environmental portraits looking at the diversity of people in the Rocky Mountain region—from ranchers to artists to athletes—and showcasing how the land is critical to their lifestyle.

The second, “Ghosts of the Plains” documents people who live in the tiny isolated towns of eastern Colorado and western Kansas and Nebraska. These are areas that were once heavily populating and thriving, but as the economy changed over decades, the towns are suffering and people are struggling to get by.

Third, “Looking Pain In The Face” is a series of portraits of endurance athletes after competition. These portraits show the range of emotions from exhaustion to elation. I’m also about to launch a project (currently untitled) that looks at the personal stories behind peoples’ special tattoos. These will all end up as books.

photo by: Jonathan Castner


Project: Covers: Retracing Reggae Record Sleeves in London
Photographer: Alex Bartsch
Original Goal: £15,000
Amount Raised: £28,877

About the project: For Covers: Retracing Reggae Record Sleeves in London, photographer Alex Bartsch takes a closer look at reggae record covers photographed in London between 1967 and 1987. After researching various reggae LPs and twelve-inches from his record collection, Alex has rephotographed more than 40 sleeves in their original locations, holding them up at arm’s-length to blend in with their surroundings, but decades later.

Presented in this way, the images represent the passing of time, and provide a fascinating insight into the history of reggae music in London, inviting the viewer to rethink the relationship between the city and its musical heritage. Following the successful Kickstarter campaign, Alex’s photographs will be published in a book presented by One Love Books.

Alex’s campaign raised almost twice as much as his original goal. We asked him about the inspiration behind the project and why he chose to fundraise through Kickstarter.

Why did you decide to do this project?
The image on a record cover usually remains within defined borders, instantly recognizable as a record cover, but not so much as a location. Approaching the scene from a wider angle and revealing the cover’s surroundings brought me, and will hopefully bring others, closer to the time and place of the original photo shoot.

Why Kickstarter?
I’ve always wanted to try out crowdfunding campaigns. As the funding for the arts decreases all the time, it’s good to have a platform to enable artists to get their ideas and projects funded.

Funding through Kickstarter also minimizes the risks by giving you an idea of how successful the project may become based on pre-sales.

What’s next for you?
For now, I’m just working on getting this book out. I might also do a second book with covers that were photographed in Jamaica. That would be a great trip and project.

photo by: Alex Bartsch

photo by: Alex Bartsch


Project: A Photography Story of Life at Sea
Photographer: Jeanette Paredes
Original Goal: $2,700
Amount Raised: $2,963

About the project: Photographer Jeanette Paredes launched A Photography Story of Life at Sea to provide an inside look at the world of sailing and also those who inhabit the Sea of Cortez, off the coast of Mexico. The project will culminate in two ways – a gallery show and a photo book. Jeanette will offer a unique experience because she plans to submerge herself into the community as a fellow sailor, rather than just an on-looker. Jeanette surpassed her campaign goal and is now gearing up for the sailing trip.

She spoke with us about the importance of investing in photography and Kickstarter communities, plus what’s next for her.

Do you have any advice for photographers interested in raising money to support their photo projects?

My advice for fellow photographers would be to do lots of research and most importantly, start giving back to the community – and then give some more. Supporting the community early on, even before you have your own Kickstarter project, has many rewards. The more we give out, the more we get back.

What’s next for you now that A Photography Story of Life at Sea is funded?

I do have a couple other projects (four in total), though I am all about letting the project pick you. As artists, we can become bombarded with ideas and let’s face it, not all of them are gems.

As of now, I am going to let Mexico be my guide. I depart March 10th for seven weeks at sea, so I am just going to ride the wind until I have to change course.

Photo by: Jeanette Paredes

Photo by: Jeanette Paredes

If you have a project you’d like us to know about, add a comment below and be sure to include the link so we can learn more. The more photographers we can support, the better.

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There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Tim Coffey at 7:41 pm

    Love seeing the work other photographers are pursuing. Thank you for highlighting and supporting them. I’m happy to share my project with the Photo Shelter community: Carolina Works, a celebration of North Carolina manufacturers. My blog is a great way to see the project to date: If anyone wants to follow the project as it unfolds, they can on twitter (@CarolinaWorks) or Facebook (@CarolinaWorksPhotography). Thanks!

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