The Authority Collective is a group of womxn, femmes, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people of color reclaiming their authority in the photography, film and VR/AR industries.
Our mission is to empower marginalized artists with resources and community, and to take action against systemic and individual abuses in the world of lens-based editorial, documentary and commercial visual work.
We are claiming our authority as people of color working in documentary and other lens-based storytelling media. A white, cisgender, heteronormative, patriarchal lens dominates our world’s visual histories, and it is this same lens that determines access and success in many industries — including photography and film. We are asserting our privilege to tell stories from our own communities, which have long been misrepresented, underrepresented and erased in visual media. And we are establishing our power to set standards that challenge colonial aesthetics, narratives and notions of success.
In addition to elevating the voices of people of color in our stories and images, we want to remove barriers to access for marginalized folks entering editorial, documentary, commercial and fine art careers. People of color — especially womxn, queer, trans, black and indigenous people of color — are often blocked from job opportunities, professional relationships, and resources because of distance from networking and educational opportunities, white-centered standards of “professionalism,” finances, “culture fit,” harassment and discrimination.
The Authority Collective will provide resources for our members and our community, including: job, mentorship, grant and scholarship opportunities; workshops, meet-ups, portfolio reviews and other events; and guides for pricing, marketing, storytelling, lighting and navigating the industry as a professional of color. We will work side-by-side with our Collective and community members to fulfill the needs of our people.
Token representation and half-hearted calls for “diversity” are not enough to solve equity problems within our industries. Continuing to hire disproportionately more white/cis-male/heterosexual lenses for stories about black, brown and other marginalized communities is not acceptable. It is crucial to take decision-makers and fellow storytellers to task when they perpetuate harmful narratives and stereotypes about marginalized groups.
The Authority Collective believes that ally-ship in visual media industries is more than merely recognizing privilege and voicing support — it's about harnessing that privilege to elevate underrepresented storytellers with action and funding.
We will identify editors, art directors, agencies and publications who have shown a commitment to including womxn, femmes, transgender and queer people of color, and highlight contests/awards programs that award thoughtful, intimate approaches to subjects that have historically been photographed in exploitative ways. We aim to shift the power dynamic in both traditional and independent media so that the stories we tell more accurately represent the diversity of our world.
The Authority Collective will develop resources and training opportunities for industry leaders, decision-makers and colleagues on inclusion, accountability, impact and the implementation of anti-oppressive practices.
We also want to hold ourselves accountable as an organization and welcome critiques that aim to build a stronger movement. Undoing centuries of abuse is not easy and will take real effort, as we work with those individuals and organizations who share our vision and have forged similar paths. The Authority Collective aims to create more pathways toward change, and to bridge the gaps between existing resources and our vision of an equitable industry.
Fellow womxn, femmes, non-binary, transgender and gender non-conforming people of color in visual media: join us. We will be reviewing applications at the end of September.