Written by Emily Mullins
What started out as a small group on Facebook has grown into an association of more than 450 women across the United States. Black Female Photographers, a group that supports the work of black female photographers of all skill levels around the world, will host its first national event Saturday, Sept. 15, and UCC member Zoraida Lopez can't wait to take part.
"We are hoping to make people aware of our presence, that black female photographers exist," said Lopez, an active member of BFP and of Faith Congregational UCC in Hartford, Conn. "We come in large numbers, but are trying to increase those numbers."
On Sept. 15, 15 black female photographers will lead photo walks in 15 different cities across the United States in honor of National Black Female Photographers Day. BFP members from Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Boston and beyond will take groups through the cities' cultural nooks and crannies to promote an excitement about photography and an interest in artistic expression. Lopez will lead the New York City tour, taking a group of about 50 people through historic Harlem to see sites like the architecture on Astor Row and the multicultural heritage of 125th Street.
"We have people coming from Harlem, all over New York City, and even Connecticut," Lopez said. "We have men, women, and kids of all colors and ages. Most of them have interest in photography, some support black women getting involved in the arts and some just like Harlem. It's a pretty varied group."
Lopez says her faith and involvement with the UCC has helped shape her voice as a photographer, as much of her work focuses on social justice issues. She has led photography lessons at juvenile detention centers, and also did a project in Columbia where she taught photography in women's prisons. Just like the BFP strives to give black women photographers a voice through networking and support, Lopez tries to do the same for the disadvantaged through her photographs –– a mindset she acquired through the UCC.
"The UCC is very much about social justice and giving people a voice," Lopez said. "A core tradition is to practice what you preach and UCC members do a great job of that. I hope that I am, too."
Learn more about Black Female Photographers and National Black Female Photographers Day.