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As the Arts & Culture editor of a leading photography publication, it’s my responsibility to ensure we remain as diverse as possible. It’s not only my doing; all staff at The Phoblographer remains committed to showing the best photographers from all walks of life. Diversity in photography isn’t tricky either. Dig into any subculture, and I promise you will find remarkable photographers. So, the question is: why do camera manufacturers still struggle to get on top of diversity within their camps?

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“We deserve to appreciate photography from all gazes and allow minorities to flourish, not for the person they are, but because of the photos they make.”

Diversity in Photography

I recently

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In 2015, the Mellon Foundation conducted its first study of the staff at American art museums. Its findings on racial diversity were grim: Only 2 percent of curators were Black. Three years later, when Mellon followed up, the needle had moved ever so slightly to 4 percent, marking an increase of 21 Black curators across the country. By this time, museums had already been under intense pressure to better represent diverse communities, making the lack of Black curators to help guide that change from within even more glaring.

Then George Floyd’s murder last year galvanized the nation, setting off a series of public demonstrations against racial injustice, which migrated from the streets to corporations, schools and museums. Some of the most prominent names in contemporary art, including Gary Garrels at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Nancy Spector at the Guggenheim Museum, left under racially charged clouds.

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A rare collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century photography and artifacts by leading Black photographers of the era—James P. Ball, Glenalvin Goodridge and Augustus Washington—is now part of the holdings of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM). The early cased photographs—or daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes, many of them related to the underground railroad and abolitionist movements, and depicting women entrepreneurs and other people not often seen in images of this period, offer a stunning new visual record. The collection of 286 objects offers a unique opportunity to examine in fine detail the clothing, culture and individual histories of the period, and to study a racially diverse group of individuals and families from the 1840s through 1920s.

“They are remarkably beautiful and haunting images from a world away,” says the museum’s director Stephanie Stebich. “These diverse portraits, depicting both African American and white subjects, show how democratizing photography

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