Documentary, Photojournalism

New Agency Launches For Photographers From Africa And Latin America

Main image © Emilia Lloret. All images © the artist courtesy Native agency

A new Amsterdam-based documentary photography agency for visual storytellers from the regions of Africa and Latin America has just launched.

Conceived in Medellín (Colombia) by Federico Ríos Escobar and in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) by Laura Beltrán Villamizar, Native agency wants to “empower, educate, connect, and support” visual journalists from Africa and Latin America.

The agency was born from “evident lack of representation of non-European/North American photojournalists and documentary makers in the industry.”

In a recent World Press Photo report, 1556 photographers were surveyed on the state of news photography. The results were proof of the need of a more balanced representation of visual storytellers: nearly 65% of the respondents originated from Europe and North America, and only 15% were women.

Image © Joao Castellano

Image © Joao Castellano/Native

Native Agency’s slate so far includes Federico Ríos Escobar (Colombia), Joâo Castellano (Brazil), Emilia Lloret (Ecuador), Tamara Merino (Chile) and Lujan Agusti (Argentina).

Laura Beltrán Villamizar, co-founder of Native agency, says: “Storytellers and mostly female ones outside of Europe and The U.S. are woefully under represented. Mostly, they don’t have the means, education or contacts to create a proper personal voice and use it to edit and pitch visual stories successfully. I feel it is my responsibility as a female photo editor from Latin America to be proactive about encouraging diversity.

“At the core of our mission is a deep commitment to excellence in visual journalism and documentary. We aim to give local photographers a platform and deliver high-quality visual stories. We seek to empower, educate, connect, and support through collaborations with media organisations, NGOs, and other agencies.”

Community residents help unload the boat which was just rescued by the FARC. The bricks are meant to be used for a school nearby. The state provides the bricks but the community has to build the school. 1 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios/Native

Community residents help unload the boat which was just rescued by the FARC. The bricks are meant to be used for a school nearby. The state provides the bricks but the community has to build the school. 1 May 2016. Photo © Federico Rios/Native

“For us, education is key. Part of Native’s objectives is to consult, educate and support storytellers and to provide counseling in affordable and effective ways. We also want to encourage them to push the boundaries of photography and video for better and more diverse storytelling. An industry that is more diverse will result in a better reflected world.

“While huge strides have been made by Latin American & African visual journalists to break into the– what still is an all western and male –industry. Storytellers and mostly female ones outside of Europe and The U.S. are woefully under represented. Conceived in Medellín (Colombia) and Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Native Agency wants to empower visual journalists from these regions who have remained invisible to the global arena.

Detail of a dress in Rojochique community. Sierra Madre, Chihuahua, Mexico. Raramuri women are known for their colorful dresses.

Detail of a dress in Rojochique community. Sierra Madre, Chihuahua, Mexico. Raramuri women are known for their colorful dresses.

“We’re an agency focused on local talent. We work with visual photographers and visual storytellers from Latin America and Africa. Experience has taught us that local documentary photographers and visual storytellers not only are able to tell great stories, but they can also excel in telling their own stories, from their own regions. These stories have mostly remained undiscovered, which is the main reason why we want to address the main obstacles such photographers face and connect them to a global audience.

“We specialise in sourcing and curating extraordinary local talent. We want to help committed photographers and visual storytellers find their voice and we want you to hear it.

“At the core of our mission is a deep commitment to excellence in visual journalism and documentary. We aim to give local photographers a platform and deliver high-quality visual stories. We seek to empower, educate, connect, and support through collaborations with media organisations, NGOs, and other agencies.

“We work with clients who want to publish or highlight work from people who can provide unique insights into local cultures, environment and development issues. We are true believers of native talent and the ways this talent can be propelled to the rest of the world. We work with local visual storytellers because we share a common belief in exceptional local visual narratives.”

Visit Native here.