Blog Post

Women Photograph: “We exist.”

At Fly Over Media’s fourth and penultimate Extant show, we’ll bring you photography by members of Women Photograph. Leading up to the reception this Friday we had a chat with Daniella Zalcman, the founder of the initiative that seeks to elevate female voices in visual journalism.

Read the conversation below, and attend the opening reception of the show Aug. 18 at The Outlook Project Gallery at Turbine Flats, 2124 Y Street, Lincoln, Nebraska, from 5 – 9 p.m.

Andrew Dickinson, Fly Over Media: Hi Daniella – thanks for taking the time to chat with me. Can you tell me what Women Photograph is, and why you started it?

Daniella Zalcman, Women Photograph: Women Photograph is an initiative to elevate the voices of female, female-identifying, and non-binary visual journalists. I started it because women are inexcusably underrepresented in the photojournalism community, and that desperately needs to change.

A teenage girl with one of her pigeons. This photo, and others, by Erika Larsen will be on display at this Friday’s “Extant: Women Photograph” show.
FOM: Can you tell me about any first-hand experiences you’ve had that support your reasons for starting WP? What about statistical information?

WP: I was just tired of hearing photo editors tell me that they didn’t hire more women because they didn’t know where to find them. Women Photograph is a database of nearly 600 independent photojournalists based in 87 countries. We exist. The World Press Photo state of the industry report has shown pretty consistently for about 3 years now that roughly 15 percent of working news photographers are women. We’ve been gathering some data of our own, and have found from monitoring the lead image on the front pages of about 8 international newspapers that somewhere between 9-25% of those photos were taken by women. All of these statistics? They should be 50 percent.

Demonstrators walk down West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri on Aug. 9, 2016, two years after Mike Brown was killed by a Ferguson police officer on nearby Canfield Drive. This photo, and others, by Carolina Hidalgo, will be on display at this Friday’s “Extant: Women Photograph” show.
FOM: WP just gave out its first set of grants. The recipients include Alex Kay Potter, Gabriella Demczuk, Néha Hirve and Luján Agusti. Why is it important that female-specific grants exist? And regardless, what did you see in the more than 500 applications you received?

WP: Until there’s some semblance of gender equality (and I should say many other kinds of equality that we’re sorely lacking) in the industry, we need to make more intentional efforts to level the playing field. I think creating funding opportunities for women photographers to pursue personal projects is hugely important — that’s the kind of work that allows you to show editors what you care about and what you excel at, and (hopefully) drives similar commissions your way. And the applications were just phenomenal. It was so difficult to narrow it down to just 4 grantees.

Arianna suffers from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders because her mother, who also had FASD, drank and did drugs while she was pregnant with her. When Arianna was only 7 days old, she had her first heart surgery. Since then, she’s had eight more surgeries and 22 hospitalizations. This photo, and others, by Calla Kessler, will be on display at this Friday’s “Extant: Women Photograph” show.
FOM: What does the existence of WP and its forward momentum say, if anything, about the changing state of the photojournalism industry?

WP: I think we’re — finally — ready to have this conversation. There have been scores of incredible female photojournalists around for decades — many of them deservedly highly acclaimed — but they still had to deal with an unimaginable amount of sexism just to be able to do their jobs. It’s time to address that head on.

Catcher Cuts The Rope, a Marine injured in Fallujah, leads a two-mile walk protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, which will cut across several sacred indigenous sites and will tunnel under Lake Oahe, which feeds into the Missouri River. Cuts The Rope, who is Aoanii and Nakota, spoke of his hope for a non-violent resolution to the pipeline. “We will stop the pipeline, and we will do it peacefully,” he said. This photo, and others, by Alyssa Schukar will be on display at this Friday’s “Extant: Women Photograph” show.
Sonya, at age 13, stands on her street in Carbondale, OH. This photo, and others, by Maddie McGarvey, will be on display at this Friday’s “Extant: Women Photograph” show.

FOM: Whether a photographer or not, a journalist or not, how can an interested person support WP and women in photography in general?

WP: I’d love for everyone to spend more time questioning who our primary storytellers are, and who’s in charge of the narratives that we share with the public and — maybe most importantly — our children. Our textbooks and newspapers need to be written (and photographed) by an accurate cross-section of our society. That’s the only way we make sure that we’re telling a complete version of our own history.

See more of Women Photograph this Friday at the opening reception of Extant: Women Photograph, 2124 Y Street, Lincoln, Nebraska, 5 – 9 p.m..