Women Photograph announced its inaugural photography grants this week to support female visual journalists in partnership with the Pulitzer Center and with ONA, a camera bag company. The New York Times Lens blog highlighted the new grants in a post by James Estrin, the blog's co-editor and senior Times staff photographer.
The prizes consist of one grant from the Pulitzer Center and three smaller grants from ONA. The four recipients were chosen from over 500 female identifying applicants who submitted projects from around the world.
Photographer Alex Kay Potter received the Pulitzer Center's $5,000 grant, which she will use to return to the Middle East to photograph families whose lives have been disrupted by ongoing conflict. Potter, whose work has been published in The New York Times, Harper's, and The Washington Post, among others, has done work recently in Yemen that focuses on Yemeni civilians and identity during instability and fighting.
Women Photograph awarded ONA-sponsored prizes of $2,500 each to Gabriella Demczuk, Néha Hirve, and Lujan Agusti. Demczuk's work will focus on sanctuary cities and a new Texas law that will make them illegal, Hirve is following a collective that is restoring evergreen forests in India, and Asgusti is focusing on traditional Mexican clowns that mix Catholic and indigenous beliefs.
Women Photograph, founded by Pulitzer Center grantee Daniella Zalcman, is an organization that seeks to "shift the gender makeup of the photojournalism community and ensure that our industry's chief storytellers are as diverse as the communities they hope to represent." The initiative maintains an active database of over 500 female identifying photographers in order to facilitate the increased hiring of diverse women in an industry that has historically been white and male.
By breaking down data on the front page and cover photos of major publications, Women Photograph found that men took between 75 and 95 percent of the photos readers are most likely to see. Women Photograph take this to mean that women are not getting prominent assignments at the same rates as their male counterparts. Zalcman talked to The New York Times about the necessity for female specific grants, saying, "right now, as we work to level the playing field, we absolutely need to create intentional opportunities to address the huge imbalances in the photojournalism community."
Zalcman has done extensive work within First Nations and Native American communities in Canada and the United States for her project, "Signs of Your Identity," which looks at the traumatic legacy of residential schools on indigenous communities.