Giving Compass' Take:
- Kenyan-American photographer Polly Irungu discusses why she started a community for Black women photographers and her activism around Black female representation.
- How can donors support artists of color?
- Read more about artists creating representation for women and people of color.
What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
Last year, like many people, I found myself in a deep state of uncertainty. I was swirling in a maze and wanted clarity in a season of confusion. As an evolving artist in an ever-changing world, I was acutely aware that I needed perspective just as much as I wanted a plan. More than that, I needed community.
I founded Black Women Photographers in part for community. Although I'm proud of the platform I’m building, there are times when the blistering loneliness of this path — the life of an artist — makes me feel isolated. In reality, especially as Black women, so many of us are walking the same path, journey, struggles — alone.
When I am feeling alone, I turn to the words of some of my favorite Black women authors. This quote by Toni Morisson sparked a light in me that I didn’t have before. I am a Black woman photographer and it is not a shallow place but a rich place to photograph from. It doesn’t limit my imagination; it expands it. It’s richer than being a white male photographer because I know more and I’ve experienced more.
When I was in Oregon, I had created a Twitter list titled “Black Women Photographers” and began to add Black women photographers to the list as they popped up on my timeline. Around March 2020, I began to reach out to the photographers one by one to ask them a series of questions to see if they at all shared the sentiments that I was feeling: What has been your experience as a Black woman photographer been like in the industry? When was the last time you were hired? Do you feel supported? Have you ever wanted to leave the industry?
The responses were very telling. They affirmed that I was not alone. That was all that I needed to know.
I kicked off Black Women Photographers with a COVID-19 relief fund that raised and distributed over $14,000 to help provide Black women and non-binary photographers here in the states and internationally with a small relief. I also helped raise over $10,000 for personal protective equipment (PPE) alongside Yvonne Etinosa for Nigerian photographers who were covering the #EndSARS movement.
Read the full article about amplifying Black women's photography by Polly Irungu at Global Citizen.