Earlier this year, photojournalist Daniella Zalcman launched Women Photograph, to highlight—and support the hiring of—female documentary and editorial photographers around the world. Inspired by her mission, we committed to partner with Daniella on the first round of Women Photograph grants. Below, Daniella explains why she started Women Photograph and what she aims to achieve.
Photojournalism has a persistent diversity problem. In an industry that hopes to visually document the lives of people from all over the world, a disproportionate number of our chief storytellers continue to be white men.
That’s a dangerous thing. When you attempt to tell your audience about people they’ll never meet and places they’ll never see, you lend them your eyes, and your way of seeing. And we need those ways of seeing to come from people who represent the spectrum of all identities — including gender, race, sexuality, and socio-economic status.
According to the World Press Photo’s latest State of News Photography report, roughly 85 percent of working photojournalists are men. There are a number of likely reasons for that disparity — the makeup of staff photographers at the wire services, widespread sexual harassment within the industry, a frequent confidence gap between male and female photographers. All of these things need to change.
Women Photograph is meant to address the visual journalism world’s striking gender disparity, and function as a resource for photo editors and other individuals who regularly commission photographers. This comprehensive database of 550 (and counting) of some the best female and nonbinary photojournalists working today has been circulated to several hundred photo editors and the public website serves as a public showcase of these women’s work.
With the inaugural Women Photograph grants, thanks to the support of ONA and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, we hope to go a step further. The database only lists photographers with at least five years’ work experience, but I believe that attrition rates among female photojournalists are highest in the first few years of their careers. I want to be able to provide support to emerging photographers as well — especially to young photographers of color and photographers from developing countries. I hope that by establishing a series of project continuation grants, we can provide the initial boost and help jumpstart a young photojournalist’s career.
This isn’t just about equality in the workplace for women photographers. It’s about making sure our storytellers are as diverse as the people and issues they cover.
Feature collage photo credits L-R: Lisette Poole, Flore-aël Surun, Alicia Vera, Rachel Woolf, Susana Raab, Elena del Estal, Nazik Armenakyan, Glenna Gordon, Daro Sulakauri, Jennifer Emerling.