Giving Voice to Black Female Photographers

Giving Voice to Black Female Photographers

It's one thing to be a female and feeling represented in this industry, but it's a whole different thing to be a black female, trying to acquire recognition and voice in photography. How many can you name from the top of your head? For the first time in 30 years, there is a substantial body of work to give an international representation to women of African descent. MFON, "an exclusive and commemorative publication," has collated stories and photographs from over 100 women of African descent, to kick off their first issue, "MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora."

The beauty of this grand project is that it also contains voices of women from academic, journalism, and other arts backgrounds. These women work within different genres, are of various ethnicities and ages, contributing to a truly diverse display of work that celebrates different identities and their ways of telling stories, ranging from fine art to photojournalism and beyond.

Black female laying on a bed surrounded by Polaroid images.

Image by Ian Dooley via Unsplash.

This project is aimed not only at photographers or art enthusiasts, but also as a legacy to the youngest generations. Women are sharing their stories, which act as a historical documentation covering various issues, such as racism and identity.

MFON do not intend to just stop there; they have also developed "MFON Legacy Grant," which will see "emerging black women photographers of African descent" celebrated and awarded. It's inspiring to see that more and more women will be encouraged to display their works of art, even more so because MFON's application process is not confined to those who can afford to enter, instead it's a "no-fee application process" and as such provides a fair opportunity to women, regardless of their financial background. It'll be exciting to see the vast range of work submitted.

Lead image by Autumn Goodman via Unsplash.

[via MFONfoto]

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Andy Day's picture

That's a very simplistic way of looking at it. Power structures are far more complex than that, more deeply culturally embedded, and thereby harder to identify, challenge, and overcome.

check the facts. go to 500px, flickr or any other website that offers free space for your pics. you will notice that most photographers are not black. a black female is something you will find difficult to find on any website. they are just not interested. has nothing to do with racism or discrimination. but i guess using Andy's logic. white rappers are discriminated against by the racist power structures etc etc,.. poop just came out of my mouth,.burp.

Ken Flanagan's picture

So what about the Latino woman, or the Chinese woman, or the....... I think you get it.

Give respect to all who work for it regardless of race, creed, culture, or sex.

Anonymous's picture

Screw them. #BlackWomenPhotographerLivesMatter

ken according to Andy Day, it has to do with white power structures focus against black woman. not a word about all those other races because they dont count in this discussion i guess. this whole discussion is just one next step in the way snowflakes and blackliesmatter movement thinks about white people. just scream racism at the top of your lungs, point at white people and do not show any type or solid proof. stick to screaming and making false accusations. this is a blacks against whites fight,.

Studio 403's picture

As my grandmother would say, “Gimminy Cricket”. Worn out on the divisive category's of photography How about a fund for old folks like me, who only got into photography because a crazy psychiatrists talked me into it. Now that's an oxymoron. And she is a woman. I really think she was an arch type of Jezebel from the OT.

michael buehrle's picture

oh boy........

Elan Govan's picture

Anybody remembers Jesse Owens, who won 4 gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin when Hitler was in charge there. Or Sachin Tendulkar, from India, one of those shit hole countries. He is a giant in the cricketing world, and no white batsmen are yet to pass his achievements.

Then there is Carl Lewis, Usain Bolt, Muttiah Muralitharan, Lewis Hamilton etc, superstars in their sport which was once dominated by white males.

The future is bright for us. Male and female, grab it with both hands and don't look back in anger.

Elan Govan's picture

Don't really care if he did or not. In any event, either of us was there. The point here is this. White women did not achieve the right to vote in their own country until the early 1900s, and there is still golf courses in the UK which do not allow women full membership.

A good understanding of history tells us why progress has been slow, and what has been the traditional barriers.

It is all relevant when it comes to breaking down barriers and ratifying the issues for easier access for the next generation. Even in Photography. But don't let me stop you from grumbling away. Be my guess.

Anonymous's picture


michael buehrle's picture


sexist,. #alldutchmalephotographerlivesmatter LOL

How secure, non black women photographers handle articles like this: they shrug and say “good for them. I’m gonna go take some photos.”
How non black women photographers who are insecure children that need a giant glass of shut up juice handle articles like this: “waaaah reverse racism!” “Woe is me and other strong alpha males!” “PC culture is ruining western civilization!” “But what about this! What about that?!” “All lives matter!”

Matt Cheale's picture

Except there's no belief of superiority here, so, no it's not racism. It is intended as a platform for people who are often discriminated against due to their skin colour and sex.

Anonymous's picture

"Racism is not limited to the belief of superiority."

Wrong. A belief of superiority based on race is literally the definition of the word in nearly every respected English dictionary available. A quick Google search finds that.

What a lazy, ignorant comment.

Anonymous's picture

Huh. How convenient that you cropped out the portion of the definition that details superiority.

What, do you think I don't have access to the same page?

Amended: What a lazy, ignorant, and deceitful comment.

Anonymous's picture

Caught in a lie and can’t even admit it. How ugly.

Yeah, as a photographer I know the purpose(s) of cropping. One of which is to hide mistakes.

Anonymous's picture

You’re either too stupid to read the primary definition of the word (which mentions superiority), too delusional to see it, or too unethical to care.

I don’t engage with stupid, crazy, liars.

Anonymous's picture

I don’t care how you want to rationalize your action, you liar.

david, stop it or im going to tell your dad your on the computer again.

Anonymous's picture

Capitalize the first letter of a sentence and any name like "David," use an apostrophe in contractions and capitalize "I'm," and learn when to use "your" and "you're."

If you're (see how that works?) going to make a feeble dig at my maturity, use adult grammar.

Im not English nor did i grew up in an English speaking country. however im fluent in 4 languages even doh im dyslectic. i respect your intolerance because it tells me more about you. like i hold a Msc degree and you dont,. spell check that david

Anonymous's picture

Mazel tov on overcoming dyslexia.

Work on your deductive reasoning, though. What in these comments points to the fact that you have a Masters degree and I don't? For someone supposedly with an Msc, your scientific method here is way off.

"spell check that david" Well, start by capitalizing my name. Do they not capitalize names in those 4 languages?
And "doh" isn't a word. I think you meant "though." There are many others, but I don't have the time nor desire.

Bob is right. if you like it or not.

Matt Cheale's picture

Well, there's no prejudice, as there's no judgement, adverse opinion or injury or damage caused to non-black-female photographers. And discrimination is teetering as the definitions that are really relevant are based on prejudice, which as stated isn't in play here. All definitions checked in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

All we have is a thing that promotes photography from a marginalised group that, may or may not, be getting the exposure their artwork deserves. If it's anything like the technology industry, then you can bet your bottom dollar that the marginal groups have to work twice as hard to achieve the same recognition currently. The idea that these things are a fully working pure meritocracy is about as real as unicorns.

Matt Cheale's picture

I didn't pick and choose. I looked up the meaning of discrimination, which uses the word prejudice, which means there needs to be "judgement, adverse opinion or injury or damage" caused. In this case, there is none.

Had they said, we're not featuring white photoraphers because they're all a bunch of racist, misogonistic muppets, then yes, you'd be right.

Matt Cheale's picture

But that definition of discrimination is not a negative one. It's like discriminating between colour and black and white photographs. This is like getting upset on a platform that promotes black and white film photography...

discrimination is per definition a negative.

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