Last updated on June 4th, 2021 at 11:02 am

Financial resources for photographers and safety during COVID-19

Financial resources for photographers

MA Unemployment update for Freelancers / Self-Employed (4/9/20)

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): For Individuals Not Covered Under Traditional Unemployment Insurance (Self-Employed, Gig Economy Workers, Others):

Overview: A benefit will be available for individuals not covered under traditional unemployment insurance like the self-employed or gig workers or those who do not qualify for lack of wages. DUA is now working with a vendor to build a new platform to disburse those benefits. This platform is expected to begin processing claims on or about April 30, 2020.

 PUA will provide up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are not working as a result of COVID-19 and are self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and others who otherwise would not qualify for regular UC or EB under state or federal law or PEUC. These individuals will not be able to claim benefits directly through the UI Online System in Massachusetts, as of this time. The Department of Unemployment Assistance has engaged a vendor to build a new platform to disburse PUA benefits. The platform is expected to begin accepting PUA claims by April 30, 2020. Eligible claimants under PUA will be retroactively compensated with this benefit beginning February 2, 2020, or the first week a claimant was unable to work as a result of COVID-19, whichever date is later. The last week this benefit is payable is the week ending December 26, 2020.

Next Steps For Claimants: Eligible claimants should continue to check for updates at on the new platform, which will be ready this month. Once the system is up and running, eligible claimants will receive this benefit backdated to February 2, 2020, or the first week a claimant was unable to work as a result of COVID-19.

Major Disaster unemployment assistance from the federal government

The federal government has made the application available to employed or self-employed workers whose means of livelihood “must have been lost or interrupted as a direct result” of the disaster.  More details available here

Disaster Unemployment Assistance Fact Sheet: 

Specific disaster unemployment assistance may be available to you from FEMA if you aren’t eligible for your state’s unemployment insurance benefits. FEMA Disaster Unemployment Assistance is generally available to any unemployed worker or self-employed individual who lived, worked, or was scheduled to work in the disaster area at the time of the disaster and due to the disaster. (Link no longer working →)  More details available here

From the City of Boston:

Currently self-employed individuals and 1099 contract employees are not eligible for unemployment benefits. If the POTUS makes a disaster unemployment declaration for Massachusetts or nationwide, the self-employed and 1099 contracts would become eligible for unemployment assistance. This is already coded into the DUA system and would be available immediately upon declaration and press release announcement. More details available here and here

From Representative Ayanna Pressley's office: 

For some of the immediate concerns you raised like food assistance and unemployment I just wanted to forward along the link to the Congresswoman’s online resource list. We are doing our best to update as we get new information from federal, state, and city agencies and add any new sources of help from our communities:

The most recent COVID relief package (CARES Act) expands the typical definition of who qualifies for unemployment benefits, and explicitly includes self-employed people. We are still waiting on the final guidelines from the Federal Government (hopefully by the end of this week), so the Department of Unemployment Assistance is asking people to wait to apply until the guidelines are handed down.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has set up a website to post updates, so please check this periodically for the announcement that they are ready to accept applications from people who are self-employed:

If you or your members have specific questions, especially as the 3rd COVID relief package begins to be implemented, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office directly. Our staff are still working, albeit remotely. Our office number is 617-850-0040.

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BPPA Print Sale to Benefit Photographers During COVID-19

The BPPA and the Boston Women’s Photo League have joined forces to host this sale in support of area photojournalists and documentary photographers who have lost work due to (or have been otherwise impacted by) the coronavirus pandemic. Our goal is to provide an outlet for income by connecting photographers (selling their prints) with potential buyers, and this sale is meant to aid those most financially impacted by the pandemic. We kindly ask that you think before submitting work if this situation applies to you. More details here.

Boston Artist Relief Fund:

The Boston Artist Relief Fund will award grants of $500 and $1,000 to individual artists who live in Boston whose creative practices and incomes are being adversely impacted by Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). More details available here

NPPA's Income Opportunities for Visual Journalists during COVID-19

A list of financial resources for visual journalists during the COVID-19 Pandemic including information about applying for state and federal relief funds. Updated as details emerge or change. More details available here.

ASMP's guide to the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program:

As part of the CARES Act passed on March 27, 2020, a large amount of money is allocated towards a program known as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). In a nutshell, this program allows for a loan of 2.5x average monthly payroll which, if you use it for a few specified purposes (payroll, rent, utilities, etc.) will be FORGIVEN! Meaning you don’t have to pay the money back. Read that again. More details here.

Format Photographer Fund: 

A $25,000 fund to help photographers impacted by COVID-19 If you’re a photographer facing financial difficulties, this fund is for you. We know $25,000 is just a start, but we want to help as many photographers as possible. The news and impact of COVID-19 is changing daily, but we firmly believe that by supporting our community and caring for each other we can get through this together. More details available here

Women Photograph:

For the forseeable future all donations made to Women Photograph will go directly to an Emergency Fund for independent women and non-binary photographers who have been impacted by COVID-19. More details available here


The fund will distribute support ranging from $1,000–8,000 USD for local coverage of the preparation, response, and impact of this global pandemic as seen through evidence-based reporting. Beyond reporting on medical and physical health related to COVID-19, we especially encourage reporting that covers social, emotional, economic, and equity issues. Narratives around the Pandemic necessarily include facts and numbers, but ultimately, must also go deeper—telling the stories of inequities that COVID-19 has brought to light. More details available here

International Women’s Media Foundation Journalism Relief Fund:

The IWMF's Journalism Relief Fund is open to women-identifying journalists in dire straits - journalists who have faced significant financial hardship, lost work, were recently laid off or who urgently need assistance to avoid severe, irreversible outcomes. This fund will provide small grants of up to $2,000 USD per request. However, special consideration will be given on a case-by-case basis to those who have greater financial need. More details available here

Anonymous Was a Woman Relief Grant

This program will distribute $250,000 in grants, up to $2,500 apiece, to women-identifying visual artists over the age of 40 who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. More details available here.

Rory Peck Trust COVID-19 Hardship Fund

During this global crisis, the Rory Peck Trust has created an extraordinary fund to provide practical and financial support to freelance journalists whose work and livelihoods have been affected by COVID-19. More details available here.

Freelancers Relief Fund

Freelancers Relief Fund will offer financial assistance of up to $1,000 per freelance household to cover lost income and essential expenses not covered by government relief programs, including:

  • Food/food supplies
  • Utility payments
  • Cash assistance to cover income loss

100% of all donations will be distributed directly to freelancers in need. Applications for funding will open on April 2, 2020. More details available here.

American Documentary Artist Emergency Fund for Independent Documentary Community Affected by COVID-19 Pandemic. 

American Documentary (AmDoc), the nonprofit organization behind the PBS series POV, is launching a COVID-19 Artist Emergency Fund to support the independent documentary community. This adapted fund of over $100,000 will provide rapid response grants up to $500 to assist artists with basic needs including food, immediate health needs and insurance premiums. Applications are now open and will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the fund is expired. For more information about eligibility, criteria and the application process, visit or contact

Artist Relief

To support artists during the COVID-19 crisis, a coalition of national arts grantmakers have come together to create an emergency initiative to offer financial and informational resources to artists across the United States. Artist Relief will distribute $5,000 grants to artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19; serve as an ongoing informational resource; and co-launch the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, designed by Americans for the Arts, to better identify and address the needs of artists. More details here.


Ways to support photographers

LIFEBOAT - Buy prints and books from photographers

LIFEBOAT is a platform to connect photographers with those who want to support their work.

Photographers are cultural storytellers, artists who teach us to look more closely at our world. They travel to the far corners of the globe to report important news, or find poetic moments within their own communities. The coronavirus pandemic has eliminated their ability to earn income, with productions or assignments cancelled or indefinitely postponed for the safety of our communities. You can help.

Leading photographers are offering archival prints and limited edition books available for purchase. If you have the ability to support an artist, please do. You can learn how to purchase below. More details here.

Diversify Photo COVID-19 Relief Print Sale

Supporting photographers of color impacted by COVID-19. Diversify Photo is helping people of color who make a living as a photographer and have lost work or are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. By partnering with Darkroom, Diversify Photo will handle all the order fulfillment, printing, and shipping logistics and expenses and 100% of proceeds on print sales will go directly back to the artist. If you would like to make a direct contribution to a photographer in lieu of purchasing a print, payment info can be found next to each artist's name. If you would like to contribute to the general Diversify Photo COVID-19 Relief Fund, donations can be made via paypal to The print sale runs 3/30/20 - 4/3/20. More details here.


Safety while covering COVID-19 and after

Covering the ongoing pandemic is logistically challenging. Here are a few resources we've found online that might be helpful to news photographers.

Links and Resources on journalist safety, mental health, and economic effects of the pandemic:

Journalist COVID-19 Prep and Safety Panel

Presented by the University of Missouri's Reynolds Journalism Institute. Livestream from last week now available on youtube.


If we find any other useful resources, we'll be sure to pass them along. Likewise, if you find anything that might be useful to other news photographers, please post in our facebook group and send to

Stay safe and let us know if there's any way we can help.