Black women photographers are taking a break for this and this grant alone is responsible

ByDavid M. Conte

Feb 14, 2022

Polly Irungu founded Black Women Photographers (BWP) to empower and inspire black women and non-binary photographers to create.

Launched in 2020, Black Women Photographers (BWP) was founded as a global community with over a thousand active members, dedicated to providing resources to Black women and non-binary photographers, who are typically kept apart Of the industry.

This year, BWP worked with Nikon to donate $10,000 in equipment and $40,000 in cash to beneficiaries around the world.

This year’s scholarship was judged by incredibly extinct and experienced photographers in the community, including acclaimed photographer Jessy J, Director of Photography and Videography at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Danese Kenon, and Nikon Ambassador Audrey Wulard.

Many of these creative grantees will use their cash grants to fund projects aimed at uplifting communities and uplifting those in need. Others will use their grants to cover professional photography-related costs.

Nikon also awarded four mirrorless cameras in other entries.

Recipient of a $10,000 BWP grant – project-based

Tiffany Sutton, St. Louis, (@tiffanyjoy1955)Missouri

Coming out at number one, Tiffany Suton is a St. Louis-based digital and film photographer. As Artistic Director of The Spectacle at the University of Washington, she elevates BIPOC in the art world.

Sutton works exclusively with black women, as a way to reconnect with herself and discuss social movements. Sutton will use the grant to fund a month-long project in June.

This project is a series of films and portraits capturing black women and their daily lives there.


$5,000 BWP Grant Recipients – Project Based

Toni Shaw, Greensboro, (@theshawphotographygroup)North Carolina

Shaw is the principal photographer and owner of Shaw Photography Group. Her specialty includes dance portraits and wedding photography. This does not prevent him from exploring other photographic genres.

Drawing on her experience and vision, she has developed a signature style that sets her apart from others. Shaw will use its grant to focus on empowering youth and children with autism with free project sessions.

Wanjiku Gitau, (@afrocanqueenphotography)Nairobi, Kenya

Raised in Nairobi, Gitau is a self-taught photographer who moved to London in 2017 where she started freelancing. According to its website, for Gitau, “photography is all about life; it is a mixture of colors and themes.

Working to uplift those like her, Gitau will use her grant to help educate and mentor the next generation of female photographers in Nairobi, teaching young people the basics and giving them the equipment to capture their stories.

Zhane Gay Byrd, (@vibrance_bw) Oakland, California

Zhané is a photographer from the Bay Area, who focuses on capturing the essence of addiction, beauty and versatility of black women and non-binary people.

Her works explore the many ways black women choose to heal by capturing true and raw emotions. Zhané will use her grant to focus on helping Black women in the Bay Area on their own mental health journey, by providing therapy.

Clara Watt, Geneva, (@clarawatt) Switzerland

Watt is a Canadian and Senegalese photographer based in London and Geneva. Featured in multiple outlets, Watt explores belonging through social, cultural and gender identity.

Watt will help black women who have been sexually assaulted or harassed reclaim those spaces with portraits, films, and give them access to therapy.


$3,000 BWP grant recipients – non-project based

Nicky Quamina-Woo (@nickywoophoto) – New York and Southeast Asia

Woo tells compelling stories around the world with his photographs. His work focuses on human unrest and social justice with projects that highlight the harsh realities of Western colonization.

Woo examines the changes that come with the aftermath of the trauma he has been through, adaptation is survival.

DeLovie Kwagala (@deloviephotography) – Kampala, Uganda

Kwangala explores the narrative surrounding identity, belonging, social injustices, and gendered sexuality with the intention of not sexualizing, fetishizing, or stigmatizing. With an endless list of accomplishments, Kwangala aspires to educate and tell stories with their images.

Ornelle Chimi (@ornelle.c) – Washington, DC

Chimi brings her own style to fashion photography. As a fashion and portrait photographer. She worked tirelessly, learning everything she needed to stand out. Chimi has been featured in Vogue Italia, Nylon and New York Magazine.

Melissa Bunni Ellen (@hellobunni) – New York, New York

Ellen is an impactful storyteller and visionary. Ellens’ images capture humanity. His portraits are beautifully composed and reflect the genuine emotions of his subjects. She will be interviewing other storytellers this year at the Storytelling for Change summit organized by Photographers Without Borders.

Karene Jean-Baptiste (@kareneisabelle) – Montreal, Canada

Baptiste was an engineer before becoming a photographer. Today, she captures the world around her, searching for magical moments that she says “can appear and disappear in an instant in a scene or a human face.”

His images provide viewers with an immersive experience.

Who’s ’bout to level up with this Nikon equipment connection eh?

Rukie Jumah, (@rukiejumah)Abuja Nigeria

Inari Briana, (@inaribriana) – Atlanta Georgia

Ramona Hernandez, (@radiantramona) – Atlanta, Georgia

I can’t forget to mention Jamie Walker from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Congratulations to all the winners of the Black Women Photographers and Nikon Scholarship! We look forward to seeing your progress and future work.

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