I recently sat in on a talk by Felicia Chang at the Real Life Conference hosted by Erika Mann of Two Mann Studios. Her talk focused on Identity and was a wonderful talk on her family and connections to her culture. She talked about her cultural identity and how important it is to her and her family. As a mom too, I understood exactly how she felt by wanting her girls to understand her legacy and family through the generations.
Later that evening, it occurred to me, that I, too, had the same quest and had been on a similar journey to find myself and the culture that resonated with me as a Black woman from the South in the photography industry.
When I started out, I wanted to know who the leading Black women photographers in the portrait industry where I could see myself in and aspire to be.
As I journeyed, and continued on my path, I attended conference after a conference and meetups, seeking and looking for my place.
I began to ask the following questions:
Where did I belong?
Where was my voice?
Who were the power women?
Where were they at the conferences that I had been attending?
How I could connect with them?
As I continued on the journey to find myself, I realized that some Black women photographers and their talents were invisible. I began to question, why couldn’t I see them in an industry that I came to love so dearly. I knew they were there in the Facebook groups, but in the big picture, I couldn’t find them.
I began my doctorate studies at Houston Baptist University in the Fall of 2017. I was in this place of an identity crisis. I was trying to find my place, merge both my loves of education + photography as a photography educator and was honestly struggling with where I belonged.
It seemed like the more I understood, the less any of it was making sense.
For me, I needed to figure it out and the only way I knew how was to go back to school.
So, that’s what I did.
I started researching and really dove more into diversity and inclusion and the current state of the photography industry for me as a Black woman photographer.
In order to understand the future, I needed to understand the path that women before had taken.
The search to find myself and identity has led to me better understanding systematic oppression, the womanist movement, Critical Race Theory, and the despite our circumstances and odds we may face- the resiliency of Black women photographers.
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