3 Scholarships for Photography Students

As the famous phrase, which originated in early 20th century newspapers, says, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. While some college-bound students hammer away at thousand-word essays, attempting to follow in the footsteps of those before them in these argumentative papers, others choose a different path. Some decide to forgo a thousand words, replacing them with a picture, a photograph.

Since the early days of capturing images via light on surfaces in the 1820s to the roaring Kodak revolution of Rochester to the modern days of Instagram, Snapchat, and mobile uploads, photography has been a constant in American life. One thing is certain; if a memorable event is taking place, we will turn to our cameras to capture the memories for a lifetime. Some are more adept at this than others, choosing to pursue photography as a career, a bold artistic statement, rather than a hobby. For these people, it is a way of life, a path they follow even as they enter college. Here are a few scholarships for photography students, who aim to bottle light and memory in a way that will speak to colleges just as an essay would.

A close-up of a camera sitting on a table.

NPPF Clarkson Scholarship

Deadline: TBD for 2021

Amount: $2,000

Arguably the most important application for photography is a career in journalism, photographing breaking news events to preserve them for future generations. Who among us can forget the iconic image of our soldiers raising the flag on Iwo Jima, the photos of cheering Germans tearing down the Berlin Wall, or the White House picture portraying President Obama and his cabinet’s anxiety during the mission to take out Osama bin Laden? The National Press Photographers Foundation, or NPPF, takes it upon themselves to ensure that our generation has the same enthusiasm for journalistic images as those before us. Thus, they offer the Clarkson Scholarship, named for one of the leading figures in recent photojournalism.

This $2,000 scholarship is open to students whose, to quote the foundation, “work ethic demonstrates the highest level of professionalism and leadership as a photojournalism student.” To be eligible, students must be committed to the field and enrolled in a four-year college. They must present their case to the three-person board of directors, who judges their work.

Hearst Journalism Awards Program

Deadline: Varying

Amount: Varying

In a similar vein to the Clarkson Scholarship, the Hearst Journalism Awards Program also aims to recruit students passionate about photography to apply their skills to journalism. Named for newspaper magnate and journalism pioneer William Randolph Hearst, the program as a whole is currently offering over half a million dollars total in scholarships for various fields, including photojournalism. Students must apply through their college, as every university in the nation is eligible to put forth two students a year for consideration. There are two different competitions, the first for news photography, the second for more artistic picture series.

However, both contests have stringent requirements; photographs submitted must be published in print or online, the editor of said publication must sign off on a letter of recommendation, and students must not alter the image in any way. The top six finalists in each competition then enter into one pool, from which a committee of judges chooses the winner of the scholarship. The Hearst Awards are serious business, but the reward is more than worth the work for anyone considering a career in photography.

YoungArts Photography Competition

Deadline: October 16, 2020

Amount: $10,000

The National YoungArts Foundation, based out of Florida, awards young artists of all stripes with financial stipends for secondary education. One of their most popular programs is their photography competition, which allows a great deal of creative freedom. To be eligible for a monetary reward of up to $10,000 (!), students from the ages of 15-18 must “demonstrate personal vision, a strong sense of craft and a willingness to take creative risks.”

Entrants must submit a portfolio made up of ten photographs, five of which must also be related, and a statement explaining their vision. Upon winning the contest, students will not only be rewarded financially, but also receive perks unheard of in other competitions. They will be able to take classes with photography icons like Bruce Davidson or Carrie Mae Weems and are automatically placed in consideration to become a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. As imagined, the program is highly competitive, so what are you waiting for? You’re off to become a national photography scholar!

And remember, schools offer scholarships for photography students! Make sure you look for scholarships for photography students at colleges you’re interested in! College Raptor can help you see what sort of financial aid you could potentially receive from various schools.

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