the authority collective’s 2018 year-in-review

  • Laura Villamizar: Photojournalism lacks self-criticism and only the underdogs are willing to reshape its toxic culture - “If photojournalism keeps on being a sensationalist factory, what happens when those leading a still very white industry keep on fuelling it with content that entertains with spectacular, clichéd imagery, instead of contextualizing the world around us and accurately representing complex and multi-layered societies?” 

  • Twitter thread: Daniella Zalcman - “Be intentional with your storytelling, your curating, your hiring.” / “If you are committed to making this community a healthier and more inclusive space, you need to pay it forward. Think about the ways in which you can work to make room in the industry for someone who has had access to fewer resources. Think about the ways in which you can speak up when organizations you work with still don’t seem to get it. If you are asked to be on a panel or jury of homogenous white men, consider refusing. Consider telling them WHY you’re refusing. If you notice the festival you’re speaking at forgot to invite any photographers of color? Consider asking them to invite a POC in your stead.”
    • Chirag Wakaskar: “Important message. And hire more women & POC, particularly in their own countries. Put an end to visual colonialism of western photographers many times on tourist visas photographing for global outlets making "fixers" out of us. We are not merely "subjects" for your awards.” 

  • Chicago journalist Adeshina Emmanuel shares his experience taking a stand against his Chicago Reader editor: The Chicago Reader’s “African American Thing” -

  • Value and protect your voice. Know that though you publish via white platforms, you have to see yourself as accountable to your people at all times, and never sell your people short.


  • Re-Picture: “The Ethics of Seeing” by Neeta Satam  

  • Re-Picture: “Blind spots: The dangers of unchecked social bias in race and media” by Shaminder Dulai

  • Nat Geo’s Race Issue: For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It - “What Mason found, in short, was that until the 1970s National Geographic all but ignored people of color who lived in the United States, rarely acknowledging them beyond laborers or domestic workers. Meanwhile, it pictured “natives” elsewhere as exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages—every type of cliché.” 

  • Twitter thread, Kainaz Amaria re: Nat Geo issue: “I appreciate the (start) of reckoning here - but I'll believe it when I actually see legacy orgs HIRING and RETAINING diverse talent.”

    • “How do you rebuild/regain trust when you've created, awarded and profited off of a colonial visual language? When you've messaged to photographers that this is the right way to see the world.”

    • “It hurts my heart when young Indian photographers come to me with work mimicking what they saw in National Geographic. That is part of your legacy. When you've trained others to see their own people as other.”


  • Portraits of Dignity (and the accompanying, tone-deaf BTS): The New York Times hires Adam Ferguson, who made 80+ portraits in one day of. In the following behind-the-scenes piece that heroicizes the journalists, we learn the Times assigned the piece a year in advance. We believe the Times had no reason not to hire a local photographer.



  • Kainaz Amaria for Vox: “Time magazine’s cover isn’t bold or brave. It’s exploitative -  “But in reality, we have profited from the pain and suffering of black and brown people — calling it heroic journalism, while it’s created and edited by mostly white people. The sad reality is that all too often, if we are to feel anything for “the other,” it needs to be horrific. We need to see someone’s worst nightmare.”

  • “Double Exposure” and the negative/positive legacy of photographer Edward S. Curtis 
    • “Representation,” Wilson said, “can manifest reality.” If non-indigenous people only think of indigenous people as sepia-toned Curtis photos, he explained, that can create a whole new host of problems. “The first images of Navajo people were made when they were essentially prisoners of war, in concentration camps in New Mexico,” he said. If that’s the first visual impression someone has of a Navajo person, he asked, how will that inflect their dealings with Navajo from then on? “Curtis created the most comprehensive archive of indigenous North Americans,” he said, “and now contemporary artists want to take that authority back and create archives of who they believe themselves to be.”


  • CJR: Photojournalism’s Moment of Reckoning -
    Many women in the industry say the behavior is so common that they have long considered it simply one of the realities of working as a woman in the profession. They say the problem is rooted in a number of factors: The field has historically been male-dominated with a culture that glorifies macho, hyper-masculine behavior; there is an increasing reliance on freelancers, which affects accountability; workshops and other events for young photographers are often exploited by older, established photojournalists. And women photojournalists say publications, institutions, agencies, and industry leaders have turned a blind eye. What’s the point of reporting harassment, these women say, when no one is listening? “These men are behaving badly, but there are also publications that harbor them,” says Polina V. Yamshchikov, a documentary photojournalist who lives in New York. “There is a calculus there, unconscious or not, of who is valuable and who is not in our industry.”

  • Neeta Satam on FIRST POST: As Alessio Mamo, World Press Photo face backlash, focus should be on ridding photography of colonial gaze

  • White People: This is How to Check Your Privilege When Asking People of Color For Their Labor 
    Sophia Stephens writes, “When asking for labor from people of color, white people, you need to remember that the balance of power between yourself and the person you are requesting labor from will always be unequal.” 

  • RADI-Aid Research: A Study of Visual Communication in Six African Countries 
    “For this report, we asked people in six countries in Sub-Saharan Africa what they think of the imagery used in different INGO campaigns. The aim of this study is to answer this question and provide practical insights to help improve the images used in aid communication and to preserve the dignity of the people represented.”


  • The Politic: An Interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones 

  • I think our job as journalists is to be fair and to be accurate. It is not to be objective. When you think about the Civil Rights Movement, and the journalists covering the Civil Rights Movement, should you be objective about the fact that innocent people are being beaten down and killed for trying to exercise their constitutional rights in this country? I would say, probably not. Should you be fair in your reporting? Yes. Should your reporting be accurate? Absolutely. But should you be objective about that? I don’t think so.”

  • April Zhu: What would photography look like if it were actually inclusive? - includes a recap of the BRIGHT Magazine’s Twitter chat, ft. Neeta Satam, Elie Gardner, Daniella Villasana, Shaminder Dulai. Neeta: “When the photojournalism industry talks about ethics, it seems to be mostly about image alteration and staging. Conversations around representation, colonialism, eurocentric perspectives, and Orientalism are almost rare.”


  • Kainaz Amaria: Photojournalism Needs to Face Its #MeToo Movement
    Via Twitter: Our industry is largely dominated by (mostly white) men — especially wire services — and this impacts your news consumption. There is a direct line between them and what you see on the front page. So this conversation is about all of us and how to push the industry to give us better representation in visual storytelling. The industry will respond if they feel the pressure of its audience.

  • Diversity in Fashion is Essential — Especially When It Comes to Photographers, ft. Dia Dipasupil
  • Getting Real in LA: #DecolonizeDocs

    • Southern Doc Fund thread: 
      “We're talking about the audience today at #decolonizedocs - specifically how the assumption that doc audiences are white, educated, professional class or higher and how that impacts what is seen as viable or even possible throughout the industry.” 
    • Imagine documentaries that are made for the audience of color - how to create systems for that to happen? Setting tone and perspectives. - [Chithra Jeyaram

    • when we tell a story re white violence on black people, where is the impact campaign to ensure the community of the perpetrator sees the film & reckons w/ its content? - [CJ Hunt



  • Kainaz Amaria: A turning tide? “That’s newsroom leadership focusing diversity initiatives on internships, fellowships and new hires. Having young diverse voices with no security or authority in the newsroom is not a “turning tide” it’s a way for the power structure to maintain the status quo, unchallenged.

  • National Geographic’s November Cover Falls Back on a Racist Cliche

  • “The white cowboy versus the “savage native”: 8 months after its “racial reckoning,” the magazine takes two steps backward.”
  • New Statesman: Why do Westerners in Africa or Asia think it’s OK to photograph other people’s children? - “It seems like as long as there is poverty, the threshold for sharing images is lowered. It could have to do with how poor communities on these continents have traditionally been depicted – for example, people in the West are used to seeing all of Africa depicted without nuance and context, so perhaps they don’t mind reproducing these tired tropes.” - Beathe Øgård, president of SAIH


Authority Collective

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.
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