Fourth Year Review

© Aura Lambertinez, one of the microgrant recipients taking part in our new initiative to send them to the United
States for two weeks of workshops, exhibition opportunities, as well as gallery, studio and museum visits

On January 26th, fototazo celebrated its fourth anniversary, giving us our annual opportunity to take a look back at the past year and ahead at plans for 2015.

This is also the "yearly report" required as part of fototazo's 501(c)3 non-profit private operating foundation status.


The site's primary mission is to develop an integrated program of support for young, emerging Colombian photographers. All content on the site works to create viewership to support the site's primary mission.

The support program consists of four parts: microgrants for equipment purchases; the equipment delivery program to give photographers access to United States market prices; the mentorship program to give the photographers guidance, feedback on their work and connections to an international team of mentors drawn from across the spectrum of the photography world; and, finally, private classes in Medellín that I teach for those involved with the microgrant and mentorship programs. Of the fifteen microgrant recipients from the last four years, nine continue to be engaged with all four parts of the program, with the two most recent grant recipients scheduled to join the mentorship program and begin private classes in the first part of 2015, bringing the total to eleven.

In 2014 the microgrant program raised $2,640. Three grants were completed during the calendar year and a fourth begun. Thank you to those who have contributed towards their successful completions – this site continues because of your contributions.

In December, fototazo launched its most ambitious microgrant yet in support of the Mono Colectivo, a group of nine former microgrant recipients who have come together as a collective to support their continued education and development. The members are Alba Bran, Andrés Sánchez, Angélica María Restrepo, Aura Lambertinez, Edwin Ochoa Vélez, Juliana Henao Alcaraz, Margarita Valdivieso, Mónica Lorenza Taborda and Natalia Lopera.  The grant will provide financial help for them to continue to build their careers by attending a photography intensive workshop at the University of Iowa in the summer of 2015; to visit museums, galleries and photographer studios in the Twin Cities; and to exhibit their work in both Iowa City and Medellín.

Yes, my middle name is Henry

In 2014 fototazo was recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) non-profit private operating foundation which will now allow me to more easily approach foundations and potential corporate donors by providing tax relief benefits for contributions. As a 501(c)(3) organization I also will also be able to approach equipment manufacturers about getting wholesale prices for grant equipment. The new status generated immediate benefits, including a $1,000 grant matched by a corporate giving program.

I am seeking other streams of revenue for the microgrant program to complement individual donations. Possible ideas include sidebar banners for financial partners of the site well as grant applications to a range of foundations and the pursuit of corporate sponsors.

Prices for photography equipment have fallen in Colombia and shipping from Amazon and other companies here has improved meaning that the equipment delivery program was dormant this year. I will continue to offer to program to microgrant recipients in case it proves helpful to have access to the US market, but over time I imagine that this part of the microgrant program will be phased out.

The mentorship program remains unchanged from last year, and continues to function as a public mentoring process in which I am facilitating the interactions. Approximately every one to two months, mentors receive a link with new work from one of the mentees to solicit their comments. Each mentee has two dedicated mentors that are expected to comment; other mentors add additional comments if they have time. The work and all comments are then published as a Classroom post on the site. The premise behind the public process is that the issues encountered in the work and the comments given in relation to them can help others to identify and approach similar issues in their own work.

Eight photographers are currently mentees and the number of mentors stayed at 13 in 2014.

Private classes continue for the mentees that live in Medellín on a once-a-month basis.


I would like to extend a thank you to all of the 2014 contributors of images and words for their help in providing a level of content that has attracted a broad readership.

The site received visits from 164 countries in the fourth calendar year and page views dipped slightly, about 8.5% from their all-time high in 2014 which makes sense given I made one-third less posts on the site last year than the year before (152 in 2013 vs. 103 in 2014). This continues a trend; I also published fewer posts in 2013 than in 2012.

In 2014 I continued to shift to more of an editor role with help from an excellent group of regular contributors. Contributors bring a wider range of perspectives and types of content to the site and they also allow me to focus on the offline sides of the site, including the logistics of the grant program, as well as on writing pieces of opinion and history, reviews and interview.

Nataly Castaño joined me in 2014 as Assistant to the Editor and she has been helped to organize selected ongoing series as well as to translate occasional posts from Spanish to English. Gabriella Cerqueira has also joined on to help fototazo redesign the site in 2015 and to help it continue to develop its online presence. Thank you for your help, Nataly and Gabriella!

I featured more work from Latin America this past year and am actively working to use the site to serve as a bridge between Latin American photographers and an international audience, presenting work made in Latin America in an English language platform. In terms of planned upcoming content, the site will move even more in this direction.

la red fototazo is a side project, a Spanish-language photography forum on Facebook that I hope will continue to advance in terms of quality of discussion. In 2014, fototazo continued to manage its Tumblr page, fototazo etc., with the help of contributor Kevin Thrasher. fototazo also continues with its Facebook and Twitter pages.

I would like to extend a thank you to the fototazo Board of Directors composed of business leaders Yaron Ben-Zvi and Raphael Crawford and photographer Amani Willett and also to the fototazo Advisory Board, which includes photographers Nicholas Nixon, Laura McPhee and Gabriel Mario Vélez for their year of service in their roles.

On a personal note, I continue to enjoy working on the site, but as with any relationship, the passion of the first year or two is hard to hold on to and the pull on my time for my personal photographic work and teaching have not allowed me to sustain the kinds of investments I made in the first year or two. This shows in the annual decline of posts the last two years. I will continue to evaluate at the end of each calendar year to make sure that the drive is there to maintain quality, if not quantity, with the posts. The microgrant program continues to drive my commitment to the site and as long as that program continues to provide benefits, I will work hard to continue to give this site time.

Finally, thank YOU for following the site and choosing to spend your time reading what we publish from among all of the many quality photography sites that exist. We look forward to taking another step in 2015.

All the best,
Tom Griggs