Stephen Mayes on the Under Represented in Photojournalism (Awards)

A link I clicked on from the EPUK Weekly News Roundup email emphasizes the power of the headline: "90% of the pictures are about 10% of the world."

This quote comes from a juror of the World Press Photo Awards. This statistic instantly grabbed my attention, speaking to the lack of (topical and conceptual) diversity in photography today.

In this audio and blog post by Stephen Mayes, World Press Photo Secretary for six years, he mentions how as a juror and viewer of photojournalism he finds "huge gaps" in the "black culture and expanded vision of black life outside Africa."

Mayes later goes on to say that what is lacking in photojournalism is work that "is really intimate and truly personal". When listing what it takes to win a competition like the World Press Photo Awards, Mayes jokingly quotes another juror saying that it helps if you are "American, male, white and shooting black and white - so there are some standards." Right after he says "I'm just kidding", but I'm a firm believer that there's some truth to every joke.

Kidding or not, as a juror Mayes has probably seen a lack of diversity in the makeup of applicants. So the lesson here is clear:

1. We need more photographers of color to authentically document their communities

2. If they're already out there working, these photographers should be encouraged to enter and qualify for such prestigious awards

I found Mayes' comments to be very enlightening and credible as someone who has seen/judged almost half a million images as a juror. This is truly a call to action.

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