The December Stories are a series of first-hand accounts of the ONA community’s work on important causes and issues around the world. This year, we were fortunate to partner with Women Photograph, a new initiative founded to “shift the gender makeup of the photojournalism community and ensure that our industry’s chief storytellers are as diverse as the communities they hope to represent.” We asked founder Daniella Zalcman to tell us the story of their first year.
Women Photograph initially launched in February of this year as a hiring resource: the database of what’s now grown to 650 independent female and non-binary visual journalists based in 91 countries around the world was meant to be an answer to every photo editor I’d encountered who told me that the severe gender imbalance in the photojournalism industry was down to a lack of women photographers.
But while that felt like an important first step, it also wasn’t enough. Every photojournalism program I’ve ever seen has been more than half female — so there clearly isn’t enough structural support for young female photographers looking to break into the industry. The database is restricted to those with at least 5 years of professional experience, so I wanted to make sure our programming also created resources for young photographers who hadn’t made it to that point.
So since our launch, we created an annual grants program (with the help of ONA!), a mentorship program that pairs 22 early career photographers each with a prominent female photo editor and photographer, sponsored the tuition and/or travel for 19 photographers to attend workshops or trainings, and ran our own skills building workshop at Photoville for 50 photographers. We also curated two exhibitions of our members’ work, and have a team gathering data about publication statistics at more than a dozen international editorial outlets.
Daniella (middle) at the Women Photograph + ONA Workshop at Photoville
Our hope for next year is to continue all of our existing programs and keep building an organization dedicated to supporting and elevating the voices of female visual journalists.