The “Silent Generation” List :
Women in Photojournalism from the Film Era — the next phase, housekeeping and logistics.
Part One: How The List Took Root
As you know I have been working on a list of women photojournalists from the film era: the “Silent Generation” project, I have titled it.
This list came about because of the broad and manifest knowledge gap that exists today about the contribution women photojournalists (and editors) from the film era. A partial explanation of this lack of wide-scale knowledge can be attributed to older archives that have gone un-digitized and therefore don’t exist for viewing or research on the web; in many instances newspaper and news wire photographers may not have access to their work. Because of this knowledge gap, the digital generation of today appears to be re-framing conversations without realizing or knowing the history of women in our profession many decades ago.
In response to several revisionist quotes posted recently, I expressed my opinion in a FB post mentioning several women in photojournalism. In turn, the photojournalism community came forward on FB offering many, many more women photojournalists and editor from their collective memory. And so “The List” was born! Soon after, I wrote a Medium piece trying to correct the false narrative that is prevalent. The piece struck a chord in the industry as many had felt relegated to history and otherwise forgotten. I have received an outpouring of emails and comments in support and the list has swelled to about 495 photojournalists and about 242 editors. We hope to park this list of women photojournalists and editors on a website this summer thanks to Debra Pang Davis’s talented help.
Part Two: The List Lives
The names on this list (scroll down) have been sourced as best as I can and pegged to the year individuals entered the profession which technically means after college, not including internships, using readily available public data from photographer’s websites, Linkedin profiles, past published interviews, and in many instances, I contacted people directly. Any corrections, Please email: TrailblazersOfLight@gmail.com.
I would encourage everyone to update their bios on these platforms. For those who don’t have a website, you may want to set up a quick bio online; I suggest using Medium (this blog). It’s easy and simple to use, you can post your bio along with 5 or 10 Images. So you have a presence on the web.
The List is a snapshot of women photojournalists and editors from the film era based on referrals of names that I have tried to vet and source as best as possible. Is it definitive? NO. Can it use more work? Yes. If there were anyone out there wishing to work on this further, expand it, illustrate it, it could be a thesis interviews project? I would welcome and applaud it.
An Interesting snapshot has emerged: the largest push of women in the field of photojournalism came in the 70s/80s when women entered American newspapers working shoulder-to-shoulder and competing on a daily basis. A majority of photojournalists on newspaper staffs were hired as staff photographers! Many did not realize this until I probed. Many don’t recall seeing other women in the photo department. Some were the first females at multiple newspapers and publications as they moved on with their careers. They were the trailblazers! In 1970, there were 1,700 daily newspapers in US.
In the sixties, a handful of women, such as, Marilyn Newton, Ulrike Welsch and Margaret Thomas were hired by newspapers to work as staff photographers. Around the same time, photographers like Catherine Leroy, Sahm Doherty and Mary Ellen Mark started to get regular freelance work from magazines. In the seventies, the Women’s Equal Rights Movement was moving along at full steam. In response, there was a big push at large, metropolitan based newspapers to hire women, then smaller papers around the country followed suit. This trend continued well into the eighties. One exception to this pattern was Mary Morris Lawrence, who was an Associated Press staff photographer in 1936. Another is Evelyn Straus, who appears to be the very first female newspaper staff photographer in the country. She worked at the New York Daily News in the 1940’s. (Update: Carolyn McKenzie Carter 1940’s and Edna Weston 1945 also from the same period).
This list is largely and intentionally American photojournalists or those who worked for American publications, photo agencies, news wires, and international photojournalists. Included are some iconic names outside of US. Some would be considered documentary photographers but their work does lean more towards photojournalism.
“Photojournalism” was not always as widely used as it is today. I can proudly recall calling myself a photojournalist at the start of my career in early 80’s and people were puzzled.
I define photojournalism as the practice of visual stories in pictures, which uses the style of individual photographer, seeks to truthfully capture important, content filled moments and share them with others. Good photojournalists are streetwise, savvy and curious. They know how to navigate complex, real-world situations as they happen on their quest to inform the viewer. The root of the word is “journalism” (definition tweaked).
Mike Davis Alexia Foundation Chair’s defines it as “Photojournalism is the practice of making photographs of events, settings, issues and people that have news value. The photojournalism profession dictates that coverages be accurate and honest portrayals made from an unbiased perspective, without altering the scenes before or after the images were made. Photojournalists must follow a specific code of ethical practice and conduct.”
Photojournalism has also roots and a rich history in America. The term “photojournalism” was first coined at the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1925. The first professional photojournalism program — The Missouri Photo Workshop- founded by the venerable Clifton C. Edomin 1949. It continues training photographers to this day.
A subset of The List names female photo editors and the high profile publications they worked. Many of them worked at multiple publications, but we did not list them all. Some started as photojournalists then went on to become picture editors. For example, Maggie Steber had a long and storied career as a photojournalist before she became the first female Director of Photography at the Miami Herald in 1999. For the most part, female directors of photography arrived on the scene in the early 1980’s. The first, who worked mainly with photojournalism, was Karen Mullarkey at Newsweek in 1984. In 1986, Maria Mann became the Global Editor in Chief of AFP. Sally Stapleton was Deputy Executive, number two, in charge of AP worldwide in the 1990’s.
Part Three: Testimonials
I am collecting testimonials from women who are on this list. We have many common experiences from working on a daily basis in newspapers, magazines, wires, photo agencies and out in the field, including experience with editors and editors working with photographers.
The testimonial section is for those who want to say something anecdotal that adds to the historical record reflecting on women in the profession at a particular time. The remark can be some point of knowledge, experience, or advice for the future professionals. The testimonial is open but it should reflect the period or shared knowledge and experiences of the film era that may be different from the current and future digital/social media era. Remarks can be anything ranging from first woman hired, to juggling motherhood and career to working with film, darkroom, deadline, transmitting, shipping film, grabbing a weather features, page one hole, setting up darkroom in hotels, etc.
To those who sent me truly beautiful emails or support over these weeks. I will be clearing permission to use those emails as part of this testimonial section.
I hope to donate the testimonials to a university with strong photojournalism tradition or even the Library of Congress. This will be decided later.
Testimonials should not be longer than one pages in Word doc. Please put you name in file name. Please include your resume or bio as well with all manner of ways to reach you. Bios will NOT be posted on The List site but it may stay with the testimonials.
Part Four: Two Choices of Deadlines for Testimonial:
1. We may use excerpts of the testimonial on The List website, if you want to be considered for the website, please submit it by July 1, 2019 or earlier. Right now, we are unsure of the space so not sure how many or how much will be included but get it in soonest.
2. Otherwise you can send it to me by email: SubmitTestimonial@gmail.com for the general collection within the next 6 months or so. Deadline: Dec 1, 2019.
We are also working on a timeline and few other things for the website….stay tuned.
Full list: *TrailblazersOfLight.com: Pioneering Women of Photojournalism*
NAME ADDS: For name nominations to The List
1.Please first check if the name is on the TrailblazersOfLight.com first, then source and confirm with the photographer the year they entered photojournalism after college, not including the year(s) they had internships. If you dont know the year, send the nominee the link to the google doc and this piece.
2. Submit a link to either photojournalist’s website, stories, contest link, wire service link or Linkedin profile so the name can be linked. List photojournalists name here.
3. To add to editors; please only source names of couple of the publications they worked, years there if you have it. List editors name here.
*Please NO emails or Facebook/Twitter messages with name adds. It’s hard to keep track. Names will be vetted before inclusion.
*A big thanks to Sue Morrow, Adrienne Aurichio, Jim Colton and Jeffrey Smith for helping to source editors with publications.
- Other stories highlighting womens role in photojournalism: 10 World Press Photo Awards, 10 Backstories and One Piece Of Advice.
- Photo submitted by each photographers. Copyright to the photographer Credited. All Rights Reserved.
- Yunghi Kim has been a photojournalist for 35 years, is a member of Contact Press Images and Yunghi gives back to photojournalism in Yunghi Grant. Follow Yunghi on Twitter: @Yunghi. Instagram: Yunghi.Kim