Photographer Polly Irungu wanted to find a way to spotlight and support Black women photographers — so she created a community and database to do just that.
Her site, Black Women Photographers, is a forum where members can celebrate each other’s work. It’s also a platform both to elevate the work of Black women in the photo and documentary industry as well as to help financially support photographers whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic. And it’s a database, so editors and curators can reach out to new talent and expand inclusive hiring practices.
“What I want people to know about our community is that it has a depth of talent and untapped brilliance,” she tells NPR.
Irungu, a 26-year-old self-taught photographer based in Brooklyn, N.Y., recognizes that her site builds on the work of others before her.
“Before you explore the site, it should go without saying that I am not the first person to create a platform for Black women and non-binary photographers,” she writes. “I’m launching this platform as a way to contribute to their efforts and as a small token of appreciation to all Black women and non-binary photographers worldwide.”
Though Irungu, who was born in Nairobi and raised in Kansas and Oregon, is just starting her career as a professional photographer, she is already spearheading an organization that is pushing for change in the industry. She talked to NPR’s Laura Beltrán Villamizar about that, discovering photography and what she loves about Black Women Photographers.