Skip to main content

Shining a light on overlooked Black women photographers

·2 mins

The genesis of a photographer’s latest project began at a Valentine’s Day party in London. She met an activist and writer who suggested they collaborate on a book about women’s photography. They presented the plan to a feminist publishing collective which was enthusiastic but unable to afford printing costs. However, a talk about another photographer’s work renewed interest in the contribution of women of color to photographic art during the 1980s and 1990s. The result is a new photography book that features the work of 57 photographers, capturing the rich breadth of work from this overlooked period and community. ‘Shining Lights’ aims to write in the missing history and reintroduce readers to both well-known artists and those who are less recognized. The project was a meticulous task that involved reaching out to old networks and contacts. Some contributors had moved on from photography and some had even lost significant portions of their work. The book sheds light on the poor treatment these photographers received in the industry during that time. It also highlights the sense of community and support that existed among these photographers as they faced rejection and exclusion from mainstream arts institutions. The book includes contextual essays and conversations from both the present day and the past, touching on themes such as the abuse of power in photography and identity in British arts. The author hopes that younger artists will find the book encouraging and will appreciate the work and leadership of those who preceded them. The author emphasizes that the book is a collective effort and showcases the work of numerous photographers who are finally receiving recognition. The book, titled ‘Shining Lights: Black Women Photographers in 1980s–90s Britain,’ is published by Mack and Autograph.