Literally born to be a digital photographer

From “Women of Color Organize for Access and Accountability in Photojournalism” (nytimes, Feb 5, 2019):

Tara Pixley often felt isolated in the newsrooms where she worked as a photographer or photo editor. As a “black woman who was the child of immigrants, raised by a single mom, and also a first-generation college student,” she struggled for a decade to fit in. She was the only woman of color in the photo departments where she worked and was ignored or treated dismissively.


[The article goes on to explore the question of how a person who fits into multiple victim categories might start determining the reason that he or she was “ignored or treated dismissively”:

“There is a three-prong gender/race/class identity space, and the bias and marginalization that it brings down on a visual journalist is very real and makes it difficult for women of color to succeed in this industry,” Ms. Pixley said. “Add to that being gender nonconforming, non-binary or trans, then you’re just this kind of oddity that no one seems to know how to engage.”

So it is either three dimensions or four dimensions.]

Related: Sony Alpha Female program (identify as female as Step 1 towards picking up a $25,000 grant, $5,000 in gear, mentorship, networking, and exhibitions), which Tara Pixley and company complained about in a letter:

one of the awarded portfolios included a prominently featured wedding photo that uses an apparent wildfire as a backdrop for a bride and groom. This was an egregiously tone deaf choice as wildfires destroyed thousands of California homes and lives in the same week as Sony’s announcement. Another portfolio featured images of black and brown people from impoverished nations that exoticized those individuals and communities, rather than telling complex and compelling stories from their perspective.

(Is a wildfire image inappropriate for a California wedding? A lot of California marriages end up in scorched earth litigation that consumes all available fuel (cash) to pay the lawyers.)

Any photo of a non-white subject is risky:

By relying on tropes of people of color, honed and employed over hundreds of years of colonization and dehumanization of black and brown people, you fail to convey a holistic narrative. That is the damning imperialistic photographic tradition being upheld by these images, their photographers and therefore the camera companies that reward, employ, fund, mentor, highlight and support such work.

But what if a bunch of white photographers take pictures of white subjects? Wouldn’t they then be accused of ignoring people of color? The letter goes on to say that Sony, et al., should “hire inclusion consultants.” Maybe the answer is that cameras should have a real-time feed to a second electronic viewfinder. Whenever a person of color is in the frame, the inclusion consultant can check the second viewfinder and approve the shutter release.

One thought on “Literally born to be a digital photographer

  1. Lol. I worked for a corp that earned millions$/day selling digital images to the creative industries. They would trip over themselves rushing to hire any black female photographer (bonus points if they were gay too). No need for inclusion consultants, 90% of management + the creative staff already assume that role. Only a self-imposed victim mentality could prevent her from succeeding in the field.

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