YIP: "Yes, I'm the Photographer" - A FILM EXPLORING THE EXPERIENCES OF WOMEN PHOTOGRAPHERS
In early 2019, I connected with a group of female photographers & models, and attended a fun photo meet in Brooklyn. That is how I met Vonecia Carswell, an educator, visual content creator and photographer in NYC. After meeting a few times, she invited me to participate in her film project, "YIP", short for: Yes, I'm the Photographer. Without much further explanation, I was immediately intrigued by the idea and excited to get involved. I was even more thrilled when I received my awesome YIP T-Shirt (shameless plug).
The phrase alone speaks volumes. "Yes, I'm the Photographer", clearly encapsulates what women go through in all professional fields, but in this particular case, photography. Often we are doubted, unwelcome and in some cases, mocked when entering a male-heavy industry. Heavy with strength and a touch of sarcasm, we have to assert ourselves: Yes, I am the Photographer, now watch me work. This was an opportunity for a group of women with various professional backgrounds to get together and discuss some of the hardships, accomplishments and aspirations in pursuing photography.
Vonecia interviewed a group of artists both in groups and individually. She also took the time to attend photo shoot sessions with many female photographers to film them in action. When we met in a studio space in April 2019, it was very fun to hear everyone's experiences and insight. She asked us questions, such as:
Why do you do the photography work that you do?
What challenges do you believe you have faced for being a woman photographer? Examples?
What are your joys of being a photographer?
What advice can you give to other women photographers in the industry? Men?
How can everyone work to create more inclusive spaces for women in photography?
I shared a few personal experiences, particularly in my work in wedding photography. I also shared why I enjoy being a photographer and why I gave up my corporate job with benefits to work in photography full-time. The more I said it aloud, the more I actually felt like a photographer. It occurred to me that for a few years, I would not even refer to myself as a professional. Having these conversations made me realize that not only am I a photographer, I earned the title. We did not achieve this overnight. We all know the hustle: a relentless itch to keep shooting, finding our style, carrying heavy bags into event halls, taking the train home at night, or packing our cars to head out to a photo shoot, buying and maintaining equipment, endless hours of editing. I can go on, but you get the point. The drive to create and be better in our craft never goes away. At times, artists often beat themselves up about it when no one is looking.
"Yes, I'm the Photographer is a short documentary film exploring the experiences of women photographers and how they're perceived in the industry. Sparked and created by the experiences of Vonecia Carswell and other women she encountered during her creative journey, the film unfolds through a series of interviews and real-life scenes as it pertains to what has been regarded as a male-dominated industry."
Expanding my professional network has been a real gift during the past year. I have met both male and female entrepreneurs that create beautiful images, films and videos; true professionals that I enjoy working with. Being involved in YIP, I have met so many impressive women that have covered concerts, celebrities, fashion shoots and destination weddings. I had a chance to connect with people who were as obsessed with photography as I am; and for once, I did not have to be one of the boys. I got a motivational push just from being around these women. As I write this, I feel like this last year has been transformative, and I am way less shy about my place in this field. I think that was a major goal that Vonecia had in mind while making this film - ensuring women that we deserve respect in whatever career we wish to pursue.
I hope you all take a moment to check out the YIP Website and read up about this film. I really can't wait to see the completed piece.
This film is being submitted to the Sundance Film Festival 2021 (Short Film Category)
Check out Vonecia's YIP Film Project at https://yesimthephotographer.com/
Special thanks to all YIP participants & donors.