This time last year, Black Women Photographers (BWP) was busy launching a global community and database to help Black women get paid for their work. One year later, the platform is celebrating its anniversary with a new fund that’s continuing that mission.
Over the last year, founder Polly Irungu has been a vocal advocate encouraging companies to invest in and hire Black women photographers for various projects through her ever-growing digital database.
The movement she started disrupted industries in a way that finally made the world wake up to this overlooked group of creatives, but now its revolutionary nature is taking it a step further with a $40,000 grant fund — in partnership with NikonUSA — and an additional $10,000 worth of photography gear.
According to Irungu, there will also be an additional $1,250 grant opportunity from Flickr who is also partnering with BWP.
“One year ago today, we launched this global community and directory. ? ,” the platform announced on its socials. “Now on our FIRST anniversary, we’re thrilled to announce the Black Women Photographers x @nikonusa Grant Fund with ? $40,000 available in grants! ? $10K available in gear! ?.”
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When BWP originally launched last year, it kicked off with a COVID-19 Relief Fund that managed to raise $14,705 total for those who had been affected by the pandemic. According to some recipients of that funding, the financial support allowed them to continue working and creating art for the world to see.
The 600+ member global directory has made tremendous progress in the last year gaining media attention from major outlets and brands such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Reuters, Bloomberg, Red Bull, Getty Images, Medium, Square, Texas Tribune, American Airlines and more. And through it all, Irungu is still shocked that people have embraced her platform so organically.
“It’s crazy because it’s literally been a year of me pouring all my time and energy into this,” she tells AfroTech. “This is my labor of love and I’m starting to see it bare fruit now. When I think about all the things that’s happened this past year – from brand partnerships to people really getting hired – it’s just so hard to wrap my head around how much of an impact [Black Women Photographers] has had on these women.”
“It being what it is right now is only in part because of the work I’ve been doing to push it,” she adds, “but also the allies, industries and elsewhere that care about diversity and equity and really want to see [things] change.”
Not only has the platform been able to distribute funding to women over the last year, it’s also been able to provide free educational trainings, talks, events, workshops and portfolio review sessions — which can cost photographers upwards of hundreds of dollars per year. Irungu has also been integral in helping create a space for Black women photographers to help take over the non-fungible token (NFT) space as well.
The hope for her and the platform now is to continue offering opportunities that uplift, amplify and employ Black women photographers in the future.
For more information about the new grant opportunity, click here.