Diversify Photo hoping to add fresh perspectives to photography

byMandla Chinula
Oct 19, 2017 in Multimedia Journalism

Editors looking for a more diverse team of freelance photographers can now access a database to find a fresh approach. Diversify Photo, a new organization founded by Brent Lewis and Andrea Wise, seeks to connect photographers of color across the United States with editors, art and creative directors that want to hire people of color, but don’t know any, spurring more diverse perspectives in the industry. But the site aims to do more than just get photographers of color freelance assignments. In addition to creating educational and career development and mentorship programs for its photographers, Diversify Photo aims to work with other like-minded groups such as Women Photograph, Native Agency, Majority World and Everyday Projects in diversifying the photography industry.

Here are some things editors should be aware of when approaching the website to find freelancers.

The photographers were hand picked

The photographers on the website are not just a randomly selected. A team of editors, including those from outlets like National Geographic and the Washington Post,  were involved in the selection process, whittling the list down from 1,500 to 340 photographers capable of fulfilling freelance assignments. Documentary photographers, for example, include Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, Ruddy Roye, Wayne Lawrence and Tasneem Alsultan, while editorial photographers include Kwaku Alston and Ramona Rosales. Editors should expect professional execution and results.

Do not typecast photographers  

Editors should not fall into the trap of thinking photographers of color can only cover stories about people of color. The photographers are well-trained in their various disciplines and are capable of fulfilling assignments, regardless of subject.  

Give diverse photographers a public presence

Not only is there a need for diverse perspectives in storytelling, but also a greater emphasis on photographers of color in the industry. Allowing aspiring professionals or young people to see a diverse cadre of photographers may encourage more diversity in the field in the future. Editors should see Diversify Photo not just as a place for hiring photographers, but also as a way to promote a more inclusive industry.

Make photographers part of your circles   

Diversify Photo has shown editors that a number of photographers of color are available for assignments and commissions. But merely having a list of photographers might not be enough. Because they are not interacting with the photographers on a regular basis, editors should make an effort to reach out, inviting photographers of color to conferences and events and following them on social media. This helps integrate the photographers into different editorial circles, and allows the editor to see the photographers’ work and projects.

Main image CC-licensed by Flickr via Sebastian.