In honor of Black History Month, we asked the founder of Black Women Photographers, Polly Irungu, to introduce us to the work of artists from their platform that you should discover and support.
Black History Month (BHM) is an annual initiative originating in the United States, designed to recognize people and events related to the history and heritage of the African Diaspora. In an effort to honor and promote black creatives, for this year’s BHM, we spoke with Polly Irungu, founder of Black Women Photographers. Her platform fights for a fairer photography scene by encouraging inclusive hiring practices with their #HireBlackWomenPhotographers social tag. From political journalism to fine art, from self-representation to documentary, these 8 photographers remind us of the importance of telling a story from multiple angles.
Rochelle Brock – Rochelle Brock is a New York-based fashion, editorial and beauty photographer, currently represented by Adolescent Content. Her work celebrates the diversity of all body types and she often advocates for the fashion and beauty industry to be equally inclusive. His work and style are bold, colorful and refreshing. She told Creative Review last year that her work was influenced by the things she wanted to create but never thought she could because she didn’t see women who looked like her. as artists. Brock’s work is a reminder that representation behind and in front of the camera is important.
Michele Bygodt – Born in Libreville, Gabon, Michèle Bygodt’s interest in photography began in her teens when her father’s work took her to live in five different countries, in Africa and Europe. Living in a multicultural environment, and later moving from one country to another sparked her interest in travel photography, cultural diversity, differences and similarities. She completed a BA in Graphic Design and Science in Paris before deciding to move to Vancouver in 2016 to pursue photography. Bygodt’s goal is to give voice to what is unsuspected or invisible. Some of his works are part of the Sankofa exhibition, currently on display at the Museum of Anthropology (UBC) until March 27. She is also working on a series entitled Gnoul (Body) which questions the term “Black body”, of which five photographs will be exhibited at the Telephone Gallery (Macaulay & Co Fine art).
Vanessa Charlotte – Award-winning photojournalist and documentary photographer, filmmaker, speaker and curator based in St. Louis, Missouri. Her work focuses on the intersectionality of race, politics, culture, and sexual/gender expression to explore the collective human experience. The aim of his work is to produce visual representations free from an oppressive gaze. Charlot seeks to humanize black bodies through his photography, restoring the dignity and vitality of those who are often photographed as subjects separated from context, patterns and stories. Her work invites us all to question our relationship to what we think of when we see black bodies as static and moving images.
Myesha Evon Gardner – Represented by Büro, Myesha Evon Gardner is a New York-based photographer and art director originally from Cleveland, Ohio. Cultural and social examinations through personal experience guide its lens, which seeks to expand a historically narrow societal presentation of underrepresented people and cultures. She directly challenges the boundaries of these narratives through ongoing explorations illustrating themes of legacy, love and work, providing an intimate view of the pride, joy and self-determination of her family members. and the community at large.
Sianeh A Kpukuyou – Accra, Ghana-based photographer Sianeh A Kpukuyou, also known as ASKphotos, is a champion of diversity and inclusion and champions dark-skinned women in her work. Kpukuyou got her start taking photos of her friends at school and has now been able to show the world the beauty and richness of Accra through her mesmerizing photographs. Kpukuyou’s career is just beginning and we can’t wait to see it unfold in the years to come.
vanessa leroy – Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Vanessa Leroy holds a BFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She remains in search of new ways of seeing, remembering and changing the world through photography. She is drawn to image making because of the power it holds to create nuanced representation for marginalized people and elevate their stories. Leroy sees photography as a tool for social justice, and with it she hopes to create worlds that people feel they can step into and tap into, as well as provide insight into an experience they may not recognize. be not personally. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, STAT News, Bloomberg and exhibited at Gallery Kayafas in Boston, MA – where she is represented.
Barbara Minishi – Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Barbara Minishi discovered her passion for the visual arts after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication (Print Media and Advertising) from Daystar University in Kenya in 2003. Primarily self-taught through exploration and experimentation, Minishi recognizes the transformative values of intimacy, connection, and belonging that photography offers her as a tool to engage with herself, her community, and the world. To date, her eighteen-year career has been successful and impactful with her diverse selection of commissioned and personal works with people, products and places. Nonetheless, Minishi considers it a priority to constantly explore and experiment with its visual direction and storytelling skills in line with changing cultural and technological norms.
Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah – German-Ghanaian visual and documentary artist Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah is an internationally exhibited and published photographer based in Zürich, Switzerland. His work is frequently awarded for exploring new territories through image making, research and human connection. She believes in diversity of thought and expression, which results in diverse practices that mutually inform each other: she also devotes herself to documentary work and conceptual arts. The title of the piece presented here is pierre and belongs to the corpus Inheritance – Poems of Non-Belonging. The medium of choice for this piece was a photographic sculpture in silk, coated with a photosensitive emulsion, exposed with a macro-photograph of my skin, crumpled, and held together by a white thread, approx. 20x20x20 cm wide.
Polly Irungu is a multimedia journalist, digital editor, self-taught photographer and founder of Black Women Photographers. As a photographer, Polly’s work has appeared in numerous publications including BBC News, NPR, Refinery29, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, CNN, HuffPost, OkayPlayer, OkayAfrica, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Black women photographers aims to disrupt the idea that it is difficult to discover and commission black creatives. Launched in July 2020 by Polly Irungu, Black Women Photographers (BWP) is a global community of over 1,000 active members from around the world. Through honest dialogue through social conversations and workshops, the platform seeks to ensure that more black women and non-binary photographers are empowered to make the industry as colorful as it should be. To do this by supporting their members through online and in-person exhibitions, events, webinars, educational programs and annual grants with Nikon Inc, as well as sharing and promoting their work in a active database of photo editors, directors, curators and art buyers.
This article is part of the work that PhMuseum has begun in recent years to support and promote underrepresented photographers as well as to rekindle the debate about gender and racial equality in our industry. Our dedicated initiatives include a Annual grant and several collaborations such as our online exhibition in partnership with MFON, IWMF and BWPwork that also included the Prize in collaboration with the African Artists Foundation.
We are always working to improve our knowledge of the projects of photographers who are underrepresented in the industry. If you are a photographer or an artist, please do create a free PhMuseum account and upload your projects. You can also contact us at [email protected]