We’re proud that five projects have been fully funded through Emphas.is so far; however, there are some that did not reach their funding goals in time. We are dedicated to making the process at Emphas.is transparent, providing answers to potential questions in our F.A.Q. We want to be particularly clear about what happens to the money a backer pledges to a project that does not reach its goal.
Because we trust that photographers have carefully formulated their budgets, when that full budget is not met, the money is returned to the backers through the PayPal system that supports all Emphas.is transactions.
Although we would love for every Emphas.is project to be fully funded, we never expected it. Understanding what projects the public is eager to support and how to explain the necessity of stories are important lessons we can learn from unfunded projects. We continue to analyze the results and interview Emphas.is photographers so we can pass on what we learn to the larger crowdfunding community.
If you have backed a project that did not reach its goal, we hope you will help us continue this learning process by reinvesting the money you pledged in another project – and letting us know why those projects are important to you.
We are excited to introduce three new Emphas.is projects, which reach from a small town in Pennsylvania to the entire continent of South America.
Joao Pina: Shadow of the Condor
Between 1975 and 1978, at least 60,000 people were killed in Operation Condor, a secret military plan to eliminate political opponents of dictatorships in six Latin American countries. Joao has been documenting families affected by Operation Condor for the past nine years and hopes to complete his project with help from Emphas.is. Backers will accompany him on a trip back to Brazil, the first of three trips that will also take him to the other affected countries: Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay.
Michael Christopher Brown: The Libyan Republic
While photographing in Libya last month, Michael was wounded in the same attack that killed photojournalists Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington and injured Guy Martin. Deciding to return to Libya despite the danger, Michael has launched an Emphas.is project where backers will help him make sense of the current conflict, also uncovering the lost pieces of Libya’s past and present daily life.
Justin Maxon: Chester, PA, Rally against violence
Since forging deep connections with the people in Chester over the last few years, Justin has decided to go beyond simply documenting the ingrained violence there. By supporting his project, you can support his plan to photograph bereaved families and turn their images into placards for a non-violence rally and community-backed workshops. Justin work from Chester was featured on the New Yorker‘s Photo Booth blog last week.
Since launching, Emphas.is has helped fund five photographic projects, including Aaron Huey’s Pine Ridge project, which blazed past its $17,250 goal to raise a total of more than $25,700 for printing posters and billboards that raise awareness about the unfair treatment of indigenous populations in the United States. Aaron, along with artists Shepard Fairey and Ernesto Yerena, recently spent a day signing posters in L.A., so supporters can expect their rewards to be delivered soon.
And it’s not too late to be get involved in fully funded Emphas.is projects, which include a 10-month exploration of migration from the southern-most to northern-most points of the Americas and an in-depth look at the rich Uyghur culture of northwest China. Supporters can now buy access to these projects for a minimum of $10 and receive exclusive updates from these exciting projects.
We’re also pleased to announce that, while the Besieged project documenting the effects of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo did not achieve full funding through Emphas.is, it has received full funding from the Open Society Institute’s South Africa branch.
One of the most important, but possibly least understood, aspects of crowdfunding is what makes a person decide to support a specific project? Understanding this will help more projects reach their goals, help organizations like Emphas.is focus their energies, and possibly give us a glimpse into the kind of journalism that audiences will be willing to pay for in the future.
To help answer this, several backers of Tomas van Houtryve’s project graciously agreed to answer a few questions. We asked them:
- How they found out about the project
- Why they decided to support it
- What the experience of being a backer has been like
- If they would recommend Emphas.is to friends or suggest any improvements
We were happy to hear that everyone would (and did) recommend Emphas.is to friends, and that their suggestions were mostly for technical improvements to the site (which we’re working on). Their input gives us an important glimpse into the mind of a backer, but this is obviously a small sample, so we will continue to do more interviews. If you have any input, whether you’re a backer or not, please share it in the comments!
Kimo Quaintance, 36, is an American living in Munich, Germany, and a lecturer in International Relations at the University of the German Federal Armed Forces. He’s been involved in photography for nearly 20 years, mostly as an amateur.
Last summer he and a social anthropologist colleague organized a photo elicitation/photo repatriation project reuniting archival photographs with their source communities in the Marsabit area of northern Kenya. This summer they’ll be using photography as part of their research exploring Somali diaspora trade and trust networks throughout Kenya.
“This was the first project of its kind I’ve funded. I heard about it through Tomas’ Facebook page and I encouraged my friends to support it through my Facebook page, which I know a few people responded to.
Last summer I had an exchange with Tomas over the idea of crowdfunding. At the time he was experimenting with the micropayment service Flattr, which I was skeptical about for numerous reasons.
I kept an eye on his work, however, and felt like he’d hit upon a good approach with Emphas.is. He’d obviously thought a lot about the relationship of the photographer to their audience/supporters, and was smart with the way he was adding value for his supporters. With the larger concept of crowdfunding, these questions of engagement and added value are essential.
The Besieged photo project documenting “rape as a weapon of war” in the Democratic Republic of Congo has only 3 MORE DAYS to reach its funding deadline, so we wanted to share some encouraging news from the DRC related to the project.
The DRC has been devastated by the Second Congo War, which has claimed the lives of 5.4 million people since it began in 1998. Despite 2003 peace accords, fighting continues in the east of the country.
Rape and sexual violence have been used consistently as weapons in this war, something highlighted by the Besieged project, in which the effects of rape will be documented through the eyes of four dedicated women photojournalists: Sarah Elliott, Ying Ang, Benedicte Kurzen, and Agnes Dherbeys, who was honored with the Robert Capa Gold Medal award this week for her images of violent protests in Thailand.