Submission Guidelines

Blue Earth sponsors documentary projects whose goal is to educate the public about critical environmental and social issues. We are primarily interested in work that is educational and informational in nature and will consider proposals of any geographic scope involving the photographic and motion picture mediums. Our standard contract sponsors the project for two years.

Blue Earth offers fiscal accountability to the projects we accept for sponsorship. As a non-profit organization with 501(c)3 status, Blue Earth is eligible to receive grants and tax-deductible contributions from private foundations, individuals, or other entities.

Along with this fiscal accountability, we also offer other services. When you join our community of visual storytellers, we offer mentorship throughout the life of your project sponsorship, publicity on our blog and newsletters, help with PR and marketing, and more depending upon individual needs.

We accept submissions for sponsorship twice each year, January 20th and July 20th. Materials must be received in our offices by the deadline. We announce recipients approximately two months later.



Blue Earth is currently going through a strategic planning process. During this process, we are suspending our July 2014 submissions for new projects to better focus our efforts on building a better and more effective Blue Earth through redefining our services and offerings to our current sponsored projects and members. We will be holding an open call for new project submissions January 2015. Thank you for your patience and we look forward to receiving your project submissions in January 2015.



Submission Tips

Projects Should…

  • Meet the Blue Earth mission
  • Explain the educational component of their project
  • Show very high quality writing and production values
  • Propose an achievable project in scope, cost, and degree
  • Be innovative; not derivative of existing or past Blue Earth projects
  • Include a thorough budget that reflects the realities of life, including living and working expenses

Projects Should Not…

  • Seek funding from Blue Earth
  • Primarily be a means to acquire new photographic equipment
  • Have connections with more appropriate 501(c)3 organizations
  • Be pseudo-scientific in nature

Application Process

Only electronic applications are accepted, at the email address below. Documents should be in PDF, Microsoft Word, or Microsoft Excel format. Jpegs should be accessible for download by our office, and videos should be accessible for online viewing. Please see the FAQ for suggestions on free services for sending large image files.

Applications should include the following information. Incomplete submissions will not be considered. The narrative may be combined into one document or broken into separate documents; in either case, each section listed below must be included in your application and should be clearly labeled as such.

All documents should be named lastname_firstname_letter.pdf, lastname_firstname_resume.pdf, etc.

  • Brief letter (3 pages or less) describing the proposed project and your previous work
  • Your resume including physical address, phone number, and email. Submissions that do not include contact information will not be considered.
  • Detailed schedule
  • Proposed budget
  • A list of sources you plan to approach for funding
  • Three references with complete contact information
  • For still photography: 20 images of recent work, preferably the same work as your proposed project
    • images must be between 800 and 3,000 pixels per side
    • must be in jpeg format
    • should be named/numbered lastname_firstname_01.jpg, lastname_firstname_02.jpg,, etc.
    • must include a Description in the metadata (in IPTC, Description is stored as Caption)
    • should have your copyright attached to the file
  • For video: samples of recent work, totaling no more than 10 minutes in length, preferably the same work as your proposed project
    • samples should be at least 720p
    • should be hosted on Vimeo, YouTube, or similar service; if password protected, be sure to include credentials for multiple logins by reviewers
  • Submission fee $30 for members ($60 non-members), check or money order payable to Blue Earth. You may also pay the fee online.

Please address all submissions to contact @ blueearth.org.

For questions or general mail, please use our contact form.

Important Considerations Before Applying

Before sending in your proposal, please make sure you understand that Blue Earth 501(c)3 sponsorship is a tax status that can be used to approach U.S. companies, foundations, and private individuals for tax-deductible donations. Ordinarily, this tax status will not be useful in seeking funding from sources outside the United States.

Photographers and filmmakers are primarily responsible for developing funding requests for the project. Fiscal sponsorship does not eliminate the substantial amount of work required on your part to secure grants and donations to fund the project.

All requests for funds under the organization's name are subject to Blue Earth approval and are made on behalf of Blue Earth, which will administer the funds and, after deducting a 5% administration fee, distribute those funds to the project as it progresses. This information will be covered in detail once the project is accepted.

Accepted project photographers and filmmakers are required to sign a sponsorship contract and report to Blue Earth on a regular basis. You will be required to make your best efforts to obtain public exhibitions, screenings, and/or lectures each year of the project in order to further the Blue Earth mission of educating the public about the project.

Blue Earth seeks a diverse project portfolio and subsequently, not all worthy projects can be accepted. Blue Earth may not be able to provide an applicant feedback from the selection panel about their project proposal seeking sponsorship. The selection panel and project portfolio varies somewhat each review round and applicants are encouraged to apply when eligible. If your project falls within our mission statement, we can review your project again in a subsequent submission round.

Please contact us if you have any questions. In addition, we have prepared a short list of frequently asked questions, including topics that relate to project submissions.

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News and Events

  • Blue Earth Accepts Seven Projects for 2014

    We are proud to announce the acceptance of seven new documentary projects for Blue Earth sponsorship since January 2014. Everyone at Blue Earth, including our members without whom Blue Earth would not exist, wishes to congratulate our new project photographers! We very much look forward to working together to further their efforts to educate the public about these pressing issues. More »

  • Collaborations for Cause Early Registration Discount Extended Through August 15, 2014

    More »

  • July 2014 Project Submission Suspended

    The next new project submission will be held January 2015. Blue Earth is currently going through a strategic planning process. During this process, we are suspending our July 2014 new project submissions. More »

  • Collaborations for Cause to be held September 25-27th

    Presented by Blue Earth, the third annual Collaborations For Cause conference brings together nonprofits, photographers, change-makers, and communications professionals to discuss the collaborative future of storytelling. New this year is a special private screening and reception on Thursday night and two different pre-conference workshops in the days preceding the event. During the two day conference participants will hear case studies from award-winning visual storytellers, attend compelling panel discussions, participate and contribute in break-out sessions, and learn from a series of keynote speakers. More »

  • Collaborations for Cause coming to Seattle in September

    Blue Earth’s annual Collaborations for Cause conference will be held September 26-27, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. The two-day event brings together nonprofits, photographers, change-makers, and communications professionals to discuss the collaborative future of storytelling. Ticket sales will open in early June. Stay tuned! More »

  • IVOH to Host Mindful Media Summit

    Images & Voices of Hope will host the Mindful Media Summit and Retreat in the Catskill Mountains of New York from June 26 – 29. More »

  • Howard Chapnick Grant Now Open for Entries

    Howard Chapnick Grant Now Open for Entries. The $5,000 grant is rewarded to encourage and support leadership in fields ancillary to photojournalism, such as editing, research, education and management. More »

  • Annie Marie Musselman Book Signing

    Annie Marie Musselman will be signing copies of her book, Finding Trust, at the Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle at 5pm on 4/26/2014. You can pre-order a copy of the book through Elliot Bay Book Company. More »

  • Tom Reese to speak at the Port of Seattle

    An artist reception will be held for Choosing Hope: Reclaiming the Duwamish River at the Port of Seattle on Thursday, March 27th from 5-7pm. To attend the event you can RSVP by March 25th at: More »

  • Rob Badger Selected For WPY Book

    Rob Badger’s 2009 Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) award winning wildflower landscape (category: Wild Places) is one of 200 images selected to be included in their 50th Anniversary book. More »

  • Michael Forster Rothbart In The News

    Michael Forster Rothbart, Blue Earth project After Chernobyl, After Fukushima, has been busy speaking about his new book Would You Stay?, which focuses on communities near major nuclear accident sites and the individuals who chose to remain. More »

  • Sarah Fretwell At TEDxSkidRow

    TEDxSkidRow recently featured a talk by Sarah Fretwell, whose work in The Truth Told Project Blue Earth is proud to sponsor.

    Her presentation Unreasonable Activism - A Journey into the Heart of the Democratic Republic of Congo at TEDxSkidRow in Los Angeles last year.  Take a few minutes to learn more about Fretwell’s work in the field directly from the source. More »

  • Gary Braasch, “Climate Change: Is Seeing Believing?”

    In a new article “Climate Change: Is Seeing Believing?” in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Blue Earth project photographer Gary Braasch reviews the multitude of images of climate change, global warming, and research into their effectiveness and provides suggestions for more effective communication. More »

  • Christoph Gielen’s “Ciphers” Released

    “Ciphers,” the latest book from Christoph Gielen’s Blue Earth project Incarcerated Populations was just released by JOVIS Publishers! More »

  • Michael Forster Rothbart's “Would You Stay?” Now Available

    “Would You Stay?” a new book by Blue Earth project photographer Michael Forster Rothbart is now available from TED Books! More »

  • Beltrá And Lenz Win Awards In London

    Congrats to Blue Earth project photographers Daniel Beltrá and Garth Lenz for winning awards at the 2013 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition! Beltrá won Wildlife Photojournalist Award - Runner-up and Lenz was awarded World in Our Hands - Runner-up. More »

  • Samuel James Awarded Getty Grant

    Samuel James, Blue Earth project Niger Delta, has just been awarded a 2013 Getty Grant for Editorial Photography.  James has been working in Niger for the past several years on an extensive documentary engagement with Nigeria, Africa’s most populous and largest oil producing nation. More »

  • New Films For Facing Climate Change

    Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele just launched four new films for Facing Climate Change. Oyster Farmers, Coastal Tribes, Potato Farmers, and Plateau Tribes all explore global climate change through people who live and work in the Pacific Northwest. More »

  • Shooting From The Heart: Photography That Makes A Difference

    Need some help creating your own photographic project? Download a free PDF copy of Blue Earth's highly regarded handbook for photographers developing documentary projects, Shooting From The Heart: Photography That Makes A Difference. More »

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