Do you dream of becoming a National Geographic photographer? Maybe you envision yourself running along the sidelines of an NFL game or sitting courtside during the NBA finals? If so, I have some good news for you. Your constant need to take photographs could earn you some college cash. Heck, even if your current portfolio only includes some random selfies and shots of your most recent meals, you could still earn money to help cover your college expenses. There are hundreds of photo contests and various photography scholarships that could earn you free money in a snap, literally! Sometimes, getting that perfect shot takes time and patience, but many times it’s just about being in the right place at the right time. I learned that a few years ago when I happened to snap a celebrity at a local hangout. That one unplanned photo earned me enough money to take my family on a seven-day cruise! Now, I never go anywhere without my smartphone or camera in tow. If you’re a shutterbug, here are just a few of the ways you can earn some cash from your camera.
Are you are a current college student? You may be eligible for this photography scholarship. Simply submit an original photograph that depicts your image of the student debt problem for a chance to win up to $1,000. Deadline: June 30.
This international photography scholarship is worth nearly $6,000. You must be either a full-time student or currently 24 years of age or younger. If you win, you’ll not only receive the scholarship, but you’ll also receive a camera package from Canon and your work will be published in the Sunday Times Magazine (UK). Deadline: July 7.
Are you interested in becoming a professional photographer? You could win up to $15,000 through this program to help cover your expenses at the Hallmark Institute of Photography. All it takes is just one photograph and a short 150-word essay to apply. Deadline: July 31.
The National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA) provides several scholarships each year, including one for photography. You must be between the ages of 15 and 18 (grades 10 through 12) and have an interest in the arts. Scholarships range in value from $1,000 to $10,000 each. Deadline: October 17.
On July 15, the James Alan Cox Foundation will open its 2014 scholarship program. This year, the Foundation will not only award five cameras (valued at $800 each) to high school students and five $2,500 undergraduate scholarships, but also one $2,500 graduate scholarship. The deadline to apply will be November 15, 2014.
The National Park Foundation is sponsoring this photo contest. If you are 13 years of age or older, and an amateur photographer, you may enter for a chance to win one of several cash prizes valued between $1,000 and $10,000 each. There are several categories to choose from, so grab your camera and start snapping away! Deadline: December 31.
Submit a photograph of your city’s beautification efforts, and you could win one of three $1,500 prizes through this photo contest. Deadline: August 5.
You can also find additional photo contests in your area by simply searching the Internet for “photo contests in [insert city name]” or by contacting your local photography clubs. Don’t forget to check your local newspaper and magazines for photo contests, too. Many offer cash prizes, but some also provide trips and other rewards. For example, this year’s National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest winner will receive an 8-day expedition to Alaska. If you want a chance to travel with some of the best photographers on the planet, submit your entry before June 30.
OTHER WAYS TO EARN MONEY
If you spend a lot of time taking pictures with your smartphone, you may want to download the Foap app. It’s free and easy to use. Each time someone purchases your photograph, you earn $5. There are many well-known brands, such as MasterCard and Sony, buying images, too. And here’s the cool part. If a company really likes your work, they may even send you out on assignment, which means even more money in your pocket. More than half of Foap’s users are currently making money. Some have even earned as much as $2,000 from a single photo.
Another way to cash in on your photographic talents is to sell your images online. You can do this through various websites, but not all are created equal. Some may require you to give them exclusive rights, which means you cannot sell your photographs anywhere else. Just be sure to read the fine print and consider your options before committing to any one distributor. If you’re talented, photography could prove to be an easy way to help pay for your college education.
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