The women photographers bringing nuance towards the way COVID-19 is being covered

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Photo: © De Lovie.

To coincide with Female in Focus 2021 , BJP hears through The Journal : a global collective compounding more than 400 women professional photographers documenting their lives throughout the coronavirus pandemic

Numerous studies in recent months have proved, once again, that the impacts of considerable crises are never gender-indiscriminate. Within April 2020, United Nations secretary-general António Guterres warned of the “horrifying global surge within domestic violence” directed in the direction of women and girls since the begin of COVID-19 lockdowns. Sex-related and reproductive health centers have been closing worldwide, with some US states limiting access to abortions.  

Women’s job losses due to COVID-19 are, globally, 1 . 6 times greater than men’s; additionally they tend to bear the brunt of care responsibilities, making them unable to work, whenever schools close or loved ones fall ill. It is no surprise that a devastating female mental health crisis has materialised being a byproduct of the past year, only further obstructing women’s attempts to rebuild their own lives.

W hen the world finds by itself in historic moments like here – and crucially, launched women who are being strike the hardest – this matters who gets to inform the story.  

This is the sentiment at the heart of global women’s photography collective The Journal . Founded by Charlotte Schmitz and Hannah Yoon of the Ladies Photograph community, the task compounds more than 400 ladies photographers documenting their life during the coronavirus pandemic. Inside it, women turn the camera on themselves plus their families, on intimate moments and private spaces, to create nuance to the way COVID-19 is being covered.  

“Most members [of the collective] had never photographed their own families nor intimate spaces prior to, and certainly didn’t release them, ” says Schmitz. “Suddenly, we realised the value and beauty in not just documenting them, but also discussing them with the world. ”

Crossing countries and timezones across the globe, The Journal seeks in order to foster open dialogues about topics such as decolonizing the lens, juggling motherhood plus work, sexism in the industry and the power of solidarity in photography, all against the background of the pandemic. “Our photo industry is based on individualism and competition, ” Schmitz says. “Collaboration barely exists. Yet that’s our biggest prize. We are creating sustainable change by simply living the group. ”

Below, seven people of The Journal reflect on some of their images and experiences from your past year.

Samyukta Lakshmi, India

© Samyukta Lakshmi

The COVID-19 lockdown in India was announced on 25 March 2020, with only four hours prior notice. It still left the nation in a state of frenzy. Faced with dwindling cost savings due to unemployment during the lockdown, millions of migrant workers made a decision to return to their hometowns from cities around India, sparking the biggest human exodus in India since the partition. I used to be documenting the situation in my hometown of Bangalore.

The outbreak has deepened pre-existing sex inequalities and has disproportionately affected women and girls. Women are usually losing livelihoods. It is so important to champion women’s tales and bring awareness towards the challenges they’ve faced.

samyuktalakshmi. com | @samlaks

Sara Swaty, USA

© Sara Swaty.

I dream of an existence where I begin plus end the day with sunlight on my skin and dirt on my fingers. A body composed of divisions as limbs, vines because hair, a face associated with flowers.   Where I am so deeply connected to the Earth, that will nothing can disturb me. Over the course of the pandemic, I might go through phases of physical exercise, spirituality, depression, and pleasure.   This self family portrait is a reflection of the peaks and valleys I was going through at the time.    

While i reflect on the last year of the outbreak, I can’t shake the particular scary statistics around the rise of domestic abuse. I think of how, each day, we’re confronted with more depressing stories of violence against women — which cut even deeper considering the helpless state of the pandemic-driven world. It reinforces the need for the strong existence of our stories, our terms, our experiences… Knowledge will be power.

sara-swaty. com | @sara_swaty

Liliana Merizalde Gonzalez, Colombia

© Liliana Merizalde.

The pandemic has led me personally to deepen my ideas on the way in which we, as people, relate to nature. At a single point in the quarantine this past year, I went to live in the particular countryside to learn in the outrageous organic vegetable garden associated with some friends who operate permaculture. My daily tasks ranged from removing the lawn, removing the slugs one by one at night (one of the most essential tasks for the garden in order to thrive), watering when it have not rained and, of course , enjoying.

When The Journal began, Colombia was early in its pen; I was feeling stuck and locked up. The Journal became an excuse to be artistically active and connect to ladies from other parts of the world who have been feeling a similar way. In my opinion that the pandemic has uncovered once more the functioning associated with patriarchy, and the precariousness associated with women’s lives in many locations — at least in the so-called ‘third-world countries’.  

lilianamerizalde. com | @docteurmille r

De Lovie, Uganda

© De Lovie.

During the pandemic, I struggled for making sense of everything. There was an excessive amount of loss and too much anxiety that I often felt suffocated in my own space. With the internet using this time to stress creatives into creating, and using what felt like free time on their hands, I found myself losing my muse and motivation. I needed to show the world that my own boat had been on a capsizing loop, and that I couldn’t escape from it. To remind me and the others like me that we are not drowning; we just needed to keep breathing.

I followed The Journal from the extremely start, and I was inspired by how women were using what was around them to create beautiful images associated with nothingness. I was inspired simply by how articulate and romantic these images were. You don’t often think about taking photos of your own space in those people ways — and that sparked my motivation back to keep in mind what mattered most.

deloviephotography. com | @deloviephotography

Eli Farinango, UNITED STATES (Kichwa)

© Eli Farinango.

This image is really a portrait of my mother and my sister. In my experience it is such an important tip of the power of the matriarchy in my community. As a Kichwa indigenous woman who grew up outside of my traditional territories, it was through my mums determination that my siblings and I grew up with a deeply love and respect for our roots.  

Growing up within a western context, I skilled discrimination and racism to be indigenous. To me, this image is part of my healing process, and a reminder of the power of our matriarchs and the defiance of the new generation to continue carrying on our culture, where ever we are.  

elifarinango. com | @elifarinango

Liz Tasa, Peru

© Liz Tasa.

The image was taken at the beginning of the confinement period in Lima, Peru, in 2020. We made the image with the only person with whom I share my apartment. I actually needed to start seeing daily occasions through different eyes. We live in Lima, and most of times it is cloudy and gray; I wanted to imagine the stars.

The patriarchal and masculine gaze has always predominated historic moments like this one. The man has always narrated the story. It is time to see the collective perspective of different women.

liztasa. wixsite. com/portafolioliztasa | @liztasa

Ranita Roy, India

© Ranita Roy.

This image captures a point in time from my hometown of Andul, India, during the Kali Puja festival of 2020. Because of the pandemic, we enjoy Kali Puja in our house; we didn’t go outside. I lost my grandmother on 2 March 2021. Now, this photo is a memory of how I invested my time during the outbreak with my family — in addition to a happy moment with our grandma.

Andul is a little town, and I don’t have any other artists to talk to… I actually went through lots of mental trauma during lockdown, but The Record gave me space and hope where I could engage personally with other creative people. We all built a community where we’re able to share our vulnerability.

ranitaroy. com | @ranita3roy

Enter Woman in Focus now

The Diary welcomes contributions to help champion women’s function via exhibitions, panels and the collective’s upcoming podcast, in addition to helping to empower new photographers to enter and navigate the field of photography. Donate here .

Flossie Skelton

Flossie Skelton joined British Journal of Photography in 2019, where she is currently a staff writer. She does freelancer writing, editing and marketing campaign work across arts, lifestyle and feminism; she has individuals BBC Arts, BRICKS Journal, Belfast Photo Festival and Time’s Up. She is also an illustrator, with art work published in Marie Claire, ES Magazine, Sunday Situations Style and the Guardian.

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