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Finding New Ways to Help and Amplify Queer Photographers
Finding New Ways to Help and Amplify Queer Photographers
by The Luupe
Queer the Lens is a new and quickly growing community of LGBTQIA+ photography and video professionals, consultants, producers and crew.
Founded by Kate Warren, Chava Oropesa, Jemma Dilag, and Luupe photographer Amy Scott, Queer The Lens comes out of a need to not only have queer-inclusive space, but one in which LGBTQIA+ creatives are leading the discussion, building camaraderie, and sharing resources to lift each other up.
In this early stage, the founders created a survey to help guide the growing number of services and opportunities based entirely on the community's needs. We spoke with co-founder Amy Scott to learn more.
The Luupe: How did this project start?
Amy Scott: I wrestled with the decision to be “out” as a photographer for years. And when I tried to find other queer photographers, I discovered that there was no easy way to find them. It was like a weird game of telephone where I could find one recommendation here or there, but there was no central place where people were connecting.
When I finally made the decision to come out professionally, it was because I decided I had a responsibility to show up for the other queer photographers to make it easier for others. Now that I feel comfortable in who I am and being out, I want to support the rest of the community in their process, whoever they are, wherever they are in their process and help us all connect.
The Luupe: What moved it from an idea into survey and more?
Scott: I had the idea for the survey because I can only know what I want from my queer community- but I can’t have any idea what other folks’ needs are. It seemed logical that the next step would be to connect with the wider LGBTQIA+ community and figure out what it is they need before we make any assumptions.
I reached out to my friend Jemma, who also identifies as non-binary, and we began to brainstorm what a survey could look like, and how broad it would be, and since then, we’ve collected a few other incredible people on our team, Kate Warren and Chava Oropesa who are helping us navigate this process together.
▲ The Luupe + Queer The Lens recently hosted a panel discussion on how to be an LGBTQIA+ ally and make a difference as an industry. Featuring the work and perspectives of three talented creatives: Annie Schutz (Cleveland Cavaliers Digital Content Producer), Lynsey Weatherspoon (Photographer), Kris LaRosa (A&E Photo Editor)
The Luupe: Your mission is clear and inspiring. What do you hope Queer The Lens will be in the near and far?
Scott: In the short term, we want to help build a community where queer creators can connect with and support one another. Queer the Lens is going to help meet the needs that our community actually has – so in many ways we’re waiting to get the full results of the survey before we decide on a path.
What we do know is that we’ll use the data that we collect to help us approach the rest of the industry- whether that is professional organizations, brands, or agencies, and say, “this is how we need to do better.”
Up until now, without data that says otherwise, everyone can assume that things are going just fine. But from our initial responses it looks like things are not all peachy, and we need change to be more inclusive and supportive to LGBTQIA people in the industry.
The Luupe: Do you have a sense of how the data you gather will manifest itself platform/ community
Scott: While I’m not sure exactly how it will look, Queer the Lens may become something of an industry educator, sharing what we learn with professional organizations, directory sites, agencies, and brands about the changes that need to take place to make our industry safer, more inclusive, and actively supportive of queer creatives.
In 5 years, we want there to be profound inclusion and support of LGBTQIA+ creators. We would love to see pronouns on every call sheet and hiring practices that actively consider the importance of building diverse teams. We want the conversations we have today to have a hugely positive impact on the career trajectories of the young queer photographers who are just entering the profession now.
© QTL co-founder Kate Warren
The Luupe: That's great. In your mind, what are some of the biggest challenges queer photographers face right now? As brands get more progressive/LGBTQ+ positive on the surface, what progress are you seeing on a deeper level, behind the scenes, in hiring, etc?
Scott: We often assume that brands are becoming more progressive, but talking to photographers, I’m not sure that we’re seeing that on the hiring side. I’ve heard from several people that they’d like to be hired year-round, not just for pride campaigns. So, I suspect that we really need to continue to push forward, together, as queer folks and allies to make production more inclusive.
This is as simple as considering who you are hiring for your team as a photographer- who is your assistant, your Digitech, your HMUA, etc? If you aren’t considering queer people for your team- you’re not helping bring up the next generation of queer creatives who are trying to make their way into the industry.
Queer The Lens co-founder Chava Oropesa
The Luupe: Having queer perspectives shape the team and mission is crucial! What are some key successes you're most excited about right now? What's keeping the energy up and urgent?
Scott: We have a series of events that we’re partnering with the Luupe and other photography organizations over the next month, and they’re all going to be amazing! We’re so excited to have the support of these incredible, established organizations, and for them to be equally excited about sharing the stories and work of incredible queer creators.
Queer The Lens co-founder Jemma Dilag. Photo credit © Molly Glynn
The Luupe: Yes! And we're so excited for our joint discussion on April 21 at 12pm EDT (readers: keep up with us and QTL on Instagram for details!) "Community" is such a big part of Queer The Lens. What does that mean to you, in the context of your overall goals?
Scott: To us, community is having a place where you are welcome and understood. It’s not having to explain yourself constantly. To have a safe space where people have a similar background, where you don’t have to do the continual work of coming out, or explaining what is challenging about your professional or personal life.
The Luupe: How do you see that playing out?
Scott: For queer folks in the photo and video industry, we’re often not sure of what we’re going to find each time we go onto set, so my hope is that we can create a safe place where people can connect and get the emotional and professional support they’ve been needing to make it to the next level- whether that is finding a mentor who is also queer, or just getting access to professional encouragement and resources or a sounding board to help them making decisions in their day to day professional lives.
The Luupe: The whole jumping off point for this conversation is the survey you're working on. What are some key learnings you're getting so far? What confirms your predictions and what's surprising to you so far?
Scott: The majority of our respondents, 40% of them, are not a part of any photographic organization at all. I think this is really interesting and shows us that people either cannot afford or aren’t convinced that there is a place for them. I think that also means that communities like the Luupe have an opportunity to really welcome folks in, and create a space that is supportive and goes out of its way to be inclusive.
The Luupe: We can't wait to see how it develops. Thanks so much for your time - looking forward to talking more in April!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The Luupe is a one-stop production platform designed to help brands collaborate with underrepresented photographers across the globe, providing resources and opportunities that boost creator’s impact and income, while streamlining traditional workflows to create high quality, diverse content, at scale. Our brand purpose is to help underrepresented photographers and creators further their career and generate income with the goal of improving diversity in front of and behind the lens in the commercial photography industry.