Spotlight

Black Lives Matter: Anti-racism resources for the photography industry

George Floyd's murder has sparked global protests against racism, inequality, and police brutality. Here, we compile a growing list of books, articles, and initiatives to learn from and support

At the time of writing, people in all 50 states in the US, and 18 countries worldwide, are protesting for the Black Lives Matter movement. The demonstrations follow the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 25 May 2020, and have amplified the anger and outrage at the racism and inequality that continue to pervade all aspects of society, including the creative industries.

In photography, countless artists have spoken out, with photographers including Campbell Addy, Ronan McKenzie and Emmazed founder Mo Mfinanga calling for systematic change in how Black photographers are treated in the industry and beyond it.

Here, we have compiled a growing list of educational anti-racism resources, along with petitions and initiatives to support, for those in the photography industry and outside of it. We will continue to update the list going forward; if you have any suggestions or comments, please send them to editorial@bjphoto.co.uk. This is by no means a definitive list, but it may be a good place to start.


Books

Mark Sealy — Decolonising the Camera: Photography in Racial Time
Director of Autograph ABP Mark Sealy MBE unravels how Western photographic practice has been used as a tool for creating Eurocentric and violent visual regimes. He demands that we recognise and disrupt the ingrained racist ideologies that have tainted photography since its inception in 1839. A free chapter from the book is also available via the link above.

Antwaun Sargent — The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion
Curator and critic Antwaun Sargent addresses the radical transformation taking place in fashion photography and art today. In his opening essay, Sargent opens up the conversation around the role of the Black body in the marketplace and the institutional barriers that have historically been an impediment to Black photographers participating more fully in the fashion and industries. The publication features 15 artist portfolios and a series of conversations between generations of practitioners.

Deborah Willis — The Black Female Body: A Photographic History Hardcover
The Black Female Body compiles familiar and unknown photographs to illustrate how the medium reflected and reinforced Western culture’s fascination with Black women’s bodies.

Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa — One Wall a Web
Employing a range of mediums, which include archival imagery and text, Wolukau-Wanambwa’s book questions whether the historical and contemporary realities of anti-Black and gendered violence serve to veil the essential function of violence in the maintenance of “civil” society.

Daniel C. Blight — The Image of Whiteness: Contemporary Photography and Racialization
Blight introduces readers to some important extracts from the troubling story of whiteness, highlighting its falsehoods, paradoxes, and oppressive nature. This book argues that the invention and continuation of the “white race” is not just a political, social and legal phenomenon, but also a complexly visual one, and explores what photographic artists are doing to subvert and critique its power.

MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora
A commemorative publication representing the collective voice of women photographers of African descent. The inaugural issue of MFON features over 100 women photographers from across the diaspora, alongside an introduction by Dr Deborah Willis, MacArthur Fellow and Chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, and essays by female scholars, journalists and artists.

Piergiorgio Casotti and Emanuele Brutti — Index G
The Gini Index is a statistical measure of inequality. Brutti and Casotti’s photobook employs it as a starting point from which to explore the intensification of macro-segregation — “where the locus of racial differentiation resides increasingly at a higher scale of geography”.

Goodman Gallery – Reading room, Confronting Power
Goodman Gallery has compiled a reading list, which will be updated continuously, comprising texts suggested by gallery artists and members of their community.

Erik S. Gellman — Troublemakers: Chicago Freedom Struggles through the Lens of Art Shay
Troublemakers fuses photography and history to demonstrate how racial and economic inequality gave rise to a decades-long struggle for justice in one American city.


Articles and texts

The Racial Bias built into Photography, Sarah Lewis for The New York Times
“My work looks at how the right to be recognized justly in a democracy has been tied to the impact of images and representation in the public realm. It examines how the construction of public pictures limits and enlarges our notion of who counts in American society.”

Why Photo editors need to hire Black photographers every day, Will Matsuda for Aperture
“The whole reason why there is so much racism, sexism, ageism, classism in the industry is because all of that exists in society.” Non-profits, media outlets, museums, and photography schools attempt to alleviate this contradiction by elevating “diverse” photographers, giving them grants or putting them on diversity panels. But who actually benefits from those panels? How does a grant or scholarship fix a systemic failure? And who benefits from highlighting Black photographers only during a time of crisis?

George Floyd, Gordon Parks, and the Ominous Power of Photographs, Deborah Willis for Aperture
“History!! James Baldwin said, ‘To accept one’s past—one’s history—is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it.’ The last few months have confounded me for a variety of reasons, but perhaps most because Baldwin was meticulous as a writer and did not spare words, thus his use of the verbs learn and use in the above are clear iterations of this, of functionality. Learn to use art (image). And make history right. In 1987, Toni Morrison wrote in Beloved, ‘And O my people, out yonder, hear me they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up’.”

1619 project, The New York Times
An ongoing initiative, which started in August 2019 — the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It reframes the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and contributions of black Americans, at the centre of the US’s contemporary narrative.

Visualising Racism, from the Washington Post’s Photo Issue
“Some of the images are beautiful and unsettling. Some are jarring. If some make us uncomfortable, that is progress. An easy conversation about racism is not a real conversation at all.”

When the Camera was a weapon of Imperialism. (And when it still is), Teju Cole for The New York Times
“When we speak of “shooting” with a camera, we are acknowledging the kinship of photography and violence.”

The importance of Black people controlling our own narrative, Venus Thrash for Zine
“Silencing is a kind of killing. I suppose that’s the whole point, especially if the killers are threatened by your work.”

Shaniqwa Jarvis is no one’s assistant, Jonah Engel Bromwich for The New York Times
“I know what I want, and I don’t want to let people’s ignorance stop me from getting that. I can never sit around and moan. As a black woman, I know that just out the gate. It’s not going to be the same for me. Knowing that, having that already in me, I just go for it” — Shaniqwa Jarvis.

The American Nightmare, Ibram X. Kendi for the Atlantic
“We don’t see any American dream,” Malcolm X said in 1964. “We’ve experienced only the American nightmare.” A nightmare is essentially a horror story of danger, but it is not wholly a horror story. Black people experience joy, love, peace, safety. But as in any horror story, those unforgettable moments of toil, terror, and trauma have made danger essential to the black experience in racist America.

Addressing racism and issues of representation through photography, British Journal of Photography
Carrie Mae Weems, Dana Scruggs, Lola Flash and Mark Sealy invite us to look and consider — to acknowledge and act upon injustices that pervade the past and the present. In light of recent events, earlier this week, we returned to interviews with them from our archive.

The impact of the white, male gaze, Savannah Dodd & Andrew Jackson for Trigger
“Upon the announcement that the White finalists of the 2018 Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize had all produced portraits of Black sitters, the historian John Edwin Mason wrote on Twitter that the portraits, ‘like all of the western visual culture, swim in a sea of white supremacist cultural flows … like most creators and producers of western visual culture, [they] have not challenged those flows, those ways of seeing.’”

Forgetful Still, Nora Uitterlinden for Gup
“Photos by black people have not received anything like the widespread recognition of photos of black people by white photographers.”

Black is Beautiful, Tanisha C. Ford for Aperture
“With every dip, measurement of solution, and timing of exposure, Brathwaite styles blackness. His images, carefully calibrated to reflect a moment precisely, made black beautiful for those who lived in the 1960s, and continue to do so for a generation today who might only now be discovering his work.”

Witness: LaToya Ruby Frazier in Conversation with Kellie Jones for Aperture
“Okay, this has a bigger significance. This is not about you. You’re in it, but really you’re talking about how to rectify the fact that a large population of people has been omitted and erased from history, and continually silenced. So I felt intimidated by it, but I also was so outraged by it. I had a bigger mission.”

Truth and Reconciliation, Bryan Stevenson and Sarah Lewis for Aperture
“It’s the narrative of racial difference that condemns African Americans to one hundred years of segregation, exclusion, and terror, following emancipation. Had we paid more attention to the narrative, we would not have seen the U.S. Supreme Court strike down all of those acts by Congress in the 1870s that were designed to protect emancipated black people and create racial equality.”

Marking Time, Nicole R. Fleetwood for Aperture
“In terms of sheer volume, prison photography is one of the largest practices of vernacular photography in the contemporary era. Like most vernacular photography, these images are primarily in private collections, housed in shoeboxes, photo- albums, drawers, and closets. These photographs serve as important visual and haptic objects of love and belonging structured through the U.S. prison regime, and provide an important counterpoint to a long history of visually indexing criminal profiles, such as mug shots and prison ID cards. Alternately, these photographs reveal the quotidian familiarity of penal settings for many millions who must navigate familial and intimate relations through prison bureaucracies and surveillance.”


Guides

Vision and Justice: A Civic Curriculum — free ebook from Aperture Foundation edited by Sarah Lewis
A free curriculum including thirty-one texts on topics ranging from civic space and memorials to the intersections of race, technology, and justice. Highlights include a wide-ranging conversation between filmmaker Ava DuVernay and cinematographer Bradford Young; an interview between Lewis and Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative; and Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s essay on Frederick Douglass.

The Photographer’s Guide to Inclusive Photography — free e-guide from the Authority Collective and PhotoShelter
A collection of first-hand accounts, insights and learned lessons from industry leaders, including a list of helpful resources and questions photographers should ask themselves before their next project.

Do no harm: Photographing police brutality protests — free e-guide from the Authority Collective
“As photographers/filmmakers, we need to ask ourselves, is this image sousveillance (from the bottom pointing up, holding power-holders and oppressors accountable) or are we furthering surveillance (from the top pointing down, adding to a history of violence and surveillance of Black, Indigenous, and POC bodies, and creating a document that can be used to further that violence)? — Filmmaker Ligaiya Romero.

Anti-racism company playbook
This constantly growing playbook includes open source docs and resources to copy and customise from experts who have been charting the way to ensure equal justice and opportunity, at work and beyond.

A full list of resources for photographers and beyond on anti-racism from the Authority Collective can be found here.



Agencies and galleries

GALERIE NUMBER 8 /@galerienumber8
Operating out of Brussels, GALERIE NUMBER 8 is a young contemporary art gallery representing a diverse roster of emerging artists working in photography, and mixed media, from around the world.

Tiwani Contemporary
Tiwani Contemporary exhibits and represents international emerging and established artists, focussing on Africa and its diaspora. The gallery also runs a public programme, Art Connect, which provides a platform for discussing contemporary artistic practice through publications, talks and projects.

AUTOGRAPH
Founded in 1988 in London to support black photographic practices, AUTOGRAPH runs an annual programme of public exhibitions and events, houses a growing photographic archive, and a dedicated learning studio.


Lists of Black photographers to hire

Black photographers based in the US

Black women and non-binary photographers based in the US
Via Women Photograph

Black photographers based in the UK
Compiled by Dubheasa Lanipekun (@sunzy_dee) and Ash Narod (@icapturedaily)

Black, Asian & Ethnic Minority food and still life photography teams in the UK
Compiled by Louise Hagger (@louisehagger)


Photography driven initiatives

See in black / @seeinblackproject
See In Black is a collective of Black photographers who uplift and invest in Black visibility. Through the sale of highly-curated prints from Black photographers, they raise funds that support five key pillars of Black advancement: civil rights, education/arts, intersectionality, community building, and criminal justice reform.

The Authority Collective / @authoritycollective
A collective of over 200 womxn, non-binary and gender expansive people of colour working in the photography, film and VR/AR industries, with a mission to empower marginalised artists.

Diversify Photo / @diversifyphoto
An initiative to encourage photo editors and commissioners to hire more POC photographers.

UK Black Female Photographers Community

BBFA Collective
Born out of a lack of representation, the Black British Female Artist Collective was created to provide a platform for the best female emerging artists of the diaspora.


Donations, Sales, and Petitions

The Earth Issue’s Freedom Fundraiser
In response to the murder of George Floyd and the global protests that have followed, The Earth Issue have initiated a print sale, with all proceeds to be donated to organisations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement

Photographers of Colour petition
Sign this petition calling for photography industry leaders and corporations to use their platforms to speak out against the racism Black and minority photographers are facing within the industry

MQBMBQ Print Sale
A new digital project celebrates Black Queer identity — comprising a charity print sale, an online journal, and weekly screenings of three films by the late Marlon Riggs

See in Black Print Sale
See in Black, a collective of more than 80 Black photographers, has launched with a charity fundraiser

To donate to organisations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, follow this link.


If you would like to suggest resources to be added to this list, please email editorial@1854.media


Keep up-to-date with the leading voice in contemporary photography