Respect for Black Artists: Nine Community Feeds to Follow on Instagram

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Community can be a powerful resource in promoting representation within creative fields. This is nowhere more evident than in the recent blossoming of communities dedicated to racial and gender equity. As part of our celebration of Black History Month, we looked to Instagram in assembling this list of community feeds dedicated to black photographers and visual content creators.

We started by contacting a few popular communities, expanding from there by adding feeds recommended by our initial contacts. We've organized the feeds alphabetically and, following a tradition from our past stories on Instagram picks, we asked each community to recommend an individual photographer’s feed as a current favorite.

While far from exhaustive, these Instagram community feeds offer a starting point in helping to make the creative industry “as colorful as it ought to be,” as suggested below by Black Women Photographers’ founder, Polly Irungu. We invite you to follow them all and add your own recommendations in the Comments section at the end of the article.

1. African Women in Photography (AWP) is an organization and a community dedicated to elevating and celebrating the work of women and non-binary photographers from Africa. Founded by Kenya-based photographer Sarah Waiswa, @lafrohemien, the @africanwomenphotograph Instagram feed was launched in June 2020, with a website following, in January 2021. The community is particularly interested in supporting emerging photographers with a multi-purpose goal: To help create opportunities for members to learn through mentorship and educational programs, to connect members to various funding and employment opportunities, to publish and exhibit members’ work by connecting them to editors and curators, and to provide a platform for collaboration and community building. AWP hopes to connect the world to its creators and creators to the world through a growing visual directory. Organized into five regions of the continent, the directory currently features work by more than 100 African women and non-binary photographers working in documentary and fine art practices.

Favorite Photographer Tag: Waiswa taps Kenyan photographer Thandiwe Muriu, @thandiwe_muriu, as a favorite, saying, “We are enchanted by her camouflage series, each image is a visual feast.”

Camouflage Series
Camouflage SeriesThandiwe Muriu

2. Founded by 10 women/non-binary photographers of color in November 2017, Authority Collective has expanded to a group of more than 300 women, non-binary, and gender-expansive visual media makers of color, spanning still photography, film, and VR/AR. The @Authoritycollective Instagram feed is a primary resource for the group’s more than 15,000 followers to showcase their work and celebrate varied perspectives. Weekly takeovers are made available to members in hopes it will give them an opportunity to engage with new audiences. The organization seeks to empower marginalized artists and journalists 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. Authority Collective believes in community over competition, and uses its collective power and knowledge to educate and intervene in structural inequities within the media industry through the many resources on the Authority Collective Website, including projects such as The Lit List, Guide to Inclusive Photography, Photo Bill of Rights, and myriad workshops, talks, and consulting services that help newsrooms, nonprofits, and companies better understand the social impact of visual storytelling.

Favorite Photographer Tag: Authority Collective co-founder Tara Pixley provided several feeds, including that of Hannah Price, @hannahprice_photovideo: “Hannah's versatility across portraits, landscapes, and reportage/documentary moments speaks to their clarity of style and intimate connection with those photographed,” Pixley says of the work. “Using light, color, and composition like painterly tools to express complex lives, beautiful moments and scenes that tell intricate, compelling stories, Hannah is a photographer whose work demands to be viewed again and again.”

3. The Black Shutter community began as a chat group of six Black photographers who met at the New York Times portfolio review, in January 2018. The chat group grew into a podcast featuring Black photographers, as well as the @blackshutter prod Instagram feed. Another outgrowth of the chat group is the Black Shutter Collective (BSC), a community of Black photographers, videographers, and photo editors whose mission is to combat diversity issues in the photography industry and aims to bridge the gap between Black photographers and the companies that seek their perspectives on the world. It is also a space for Black creatives to share their stories in their own words, to bring nuance to the world’s understanding of Black culture, while also being a space for new talent to enter the industry. The group’s founders, Idris Talib Solomon, @idrissolomon, and Leslie Ogoe, @jaffejo, have several years of experience in the fields of advertising, marketing, tech, photography, and entertainment, a combination of backgrounds that helps them envision the community from various angles and identify new opportunities for bringing unique stories to the creative industry. Black Shutter relies on its members to build its relevancy in the Black community, with the belief that its superpower is organic engagement.

Favorite Photographer Tag: Ogoe and Solomon provided a shortlist of four creatives, including Emmanuel Afolabi, @emmanuel.fola, “a talented videographer and director, whose work focuses on the Black community, and has strong messaging behind it. He has recently directed three music videos for Hip Hop artist Common,” they add, “which were beautifully made.”

4. Launched in July of 2020 by Polly Irungu, @pollyirungu, Black Women Photographers (BWP) has grown into a global community of more than 1,000 active members from around the world, spanning 45 countries and 32 states. Dedicated to providing a resource for the industry’s gatekeepers, BWP aims to disrupt the notion that it is difficult to discover and commission Black creatives. The organization supports its members through the content rich BWP website—including an active database distributed to photo editors, directors, curators, and art buyers—by posts to the @blackwomenphotographers Instagram feed, multiple grant funds and awards, corporate partnerships, plus the programing of free educational resources, from webinars to workshops to trainings to portfolio reviews. By providing a home for Black women to receive proper recognition—and most importantly, get hired—BWP seeks to ensure that more Black women and non-binary photographers are empowered to make the industry as colorful as it ought to be.

Favorite Photographer Tag: Irungu calls out the feed of Los Angeles-based Brittney Janae, @brittney.janae, saying, “She’s one of my favorite Black women filmmakers to follow because of how transparent she is about her journey. She keeps it real and uses every chance she gets to inspire, educate, and uplift other creatives.”

Brittney Janae

5. Color Positive is a non-profit focused on highlighting premier and growing Black talent. It also connects many of the artists it features with students and young creatives alike, for mentorship and counseling. Founded in fall 2019 by Jai Lennard, @jai.lennard, with support from photographer Kelly Marshall, @sans.murs, and art director Alelli Tanghal, @alelli, the group brings artists into schools for counseling and mentorship, while also hosting the Color Positive website as a resource for talent and inspiration, and maintaining the @colorpositive Instagram feed to help raise awareness about current Black talent the industry should keep an eye on.

Favorite Photographer Tag: Lennard offered two feeds to pick from, describing photographer Rochelle Brock, @rochellefatleopard, as “really creating space for herself and opening up many minds to what beauty is and how we conceive it. I don’t just love the work she creates,” says Lennard, “I think it’s imperative.”

6. Diversify Photo is a community of BIPOC and non-Western photographers, editors, and visual producers working to break with the predominantly colonial and patriarchal eye through which history and the mass media have seen and recorded the images of our time. Founded in 2017 by Andrea Wise, @andreawise_, and Brent Lewis, @blewisphoto, the organization hosts an international online database of more than 900 members on its website, sorted by home base, which is used by editors at major media outlets seeking diversity in their visual storyteller rosters. Photographers, photo editors, videographers, and multimedia producers of all levels are invited to apply for membership, provided they self-identify as non-Western or a person of color, and are actively working toward a career in editorial, commercial, or fine art photography. The @diversifyphoto Instagram feed is one of many other networking, exhibiting, speaking, community-building, and resource-sharing opportunities the group provides for its members.

Favorite Photographer Tag: While also torn between two favorite feeds, Brent Lewis points to the work of Akilah Townsend, @Killls, “Because as a kid from the South Side of Chicago, her work embodies the city, especially the South Side. Just the beauty of Black life is on show in her photos to the point that you can't help to feel like you know the people in the photos, if not even seeing yourself.”

Akilah Townsend

7. #HIREBLACK started as a viral LinkedIn post in 2020, which requested resume feedback to help 19 Black womxn on Juneteenth. Founded by Niani Tolbert, @fiercelyni, in less than three years the organization has grown into a thriving and unapologetic initiative with a goal to help 10,000 Black womxn get trained, hired, and/or promoted in corporate positions. Since its inception, #HIREBLACK has partnered with companies such as Amazon, Disney, Conde Nast, Niantic, Spotify, Uber, and more. The group’s resources have reportedly increased the total compensation of its members by more than $1.2 million. Today, the organization has a multiplatform presence—from its website, to the @hireblacknow Instagram feed, plus dedicated communities on LinkedIn and Slack, editorial features on Forbes and ESSENCE, and more—all in support of a network of 15,000 Black womxn, and counting.

Favorite Photographer Tag: Tolbert recommends the feed of Faith Couch, @blackpowerprincess, for its depiction of “Black bodies in love, sensuality, comradery, and safety within vulnerability,” she explains. “Her work is remarkable because it evokes a tenderness that warms me.”

Being
BeingFaith Couch

8) Kamoinge emerged in 1963 when two groups of New York City-based African American photographers came together in the spirit of friendship to seek artistic equality and empowerment. Founders Louis Draper, Ray Francis, Herb Randall, Albert Fennar, and Adger Cowans chose the name Kamoinge—meaning “a group of people acting together” in the Gikuyu language of Kenya’s Kikuyu people—to reflect a commitment to supporting one another. Billed in Huck Magazine as the world’s longest continuously running non-profit photography collective, Kamoinge has consistently embraced a philosophy of art shaped by photography’s source, range, and influence on the individual, and by social reform as established by 19th century statesman and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The group’s mission speaks to photography’s power as an independent art form that depicts Black communities as they saw and experienced them, in contrast to how they were often negatively portrayed in art, media, and popular culture. Kamoinge’s celebrated aesthetic is also rooted in the complementary art forms of photography and music―specifically, jazz. The components of improvisation, timing, and technical expertise combined with critique, resistance, and intuition are used to nurture a community of excellence, strength, and beauty.

Favorite Photographer Tag: Instead of recommending an individual photographer’s feed, Kamoinge’s executive director Nadira Husain directs readers to research the organization’s Active, Emeritus, and Memoriam members on the Kamoinge website to learn about their many accomplishments. Works by members of the collective can also be seen on its @kamoinge_images Instagram feed and in the exhibition Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop, which debuted at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in October 2020, then traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, in 2021. On February 25, 2022, the exhibition will open at the Cincinnati Art Museum, before traveling to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles from July – October 2022. An accompanying catalog is also available from Duke University Press.

9) Photo House South (PHS) is a social network and creatives’ guide focusing on visual journalists from Africa and the Diaspora, founded in 2021 by Ghanaian photographer, Samira Saidi, @samira.said.i. By sharing free educational and informative material on the Photo House South website, the group offers and maintains accessibility in the realm of visual content creation and its associated industries. PHS seeks to reclaim, humanize, and welcome the work and stories of African photographers by empowering visual journalists and their creative journeys through its member network. Creative excellence in visual storytelling is also celebrated on the @photohousesouth Instagram feed, which embraces the talent and skill manifested in a growing network of visual storytellers across the 54 countries that make up the African continent.

Favorite Photographer Tag: Saidi recommends the feed of Rachel Seidu, @rachelseidu, “An incredible visual storyteller who is able to bring intimacy and genuine emotions into her photography. Her incredible work touches upon gender and identity; however, it is much more than that,” Saidi notes. “She invites the audience into stories of love, intimacy, and strength. Her photographs take us into a fairy tale of visuals, comfort, and possibilities.”

When Words Fail
When Words FailRachel Seidu

2 Comments

This is a really great resource. So many companies do performative, useless things like for BHM. This was actually really useful and helpul. Thanks. 

Thanks so much for the compliment on this story Emmett, your kind words mean a lot to me. I encountered a lot of really awesome community feeds in my research for this story ... Here's one I was unable to include due to deadline issues: Brown Girls Doc Mafia, @browngirlsdocmafia. Please check them out on Instagram and visit their website to learn more. We'd also love to hear about any other community feeds we may have missed. Thanks again for taking the time to write, and for reading Explora!