Hidden Figures of the Photo Industry- African American Women

An Open Letter to Nikon, Sony, Canon, Olympus & Fuji

Yesterday, a lot of my friends were upset about the disproportionate number of women compared to men who were ambassadors for camera companies.

Where are all the women?

Are we not capable of using the same camera to take stunning photographs?

What gives?

But my heart and mind were thinking about something else. The contrast within my soul sought an answer to a different question.

Where were the people of color? Specifically, African-American Ambassadors?

Before you get all snappy with me and say I’m being over critical, let’s take a real look at the number of people of color who are global ambassadors for camera companies.

Sony – http://imagingambassadors.sony.net/ambassadors/

58 Ambassadors

2 African-American Men

0 African-American Women

Two, really?

Canon – http://learn.usa.canon.com/dlc/contributors/explorers.spr

40 Canon Explorers of Light

0 African-American Men

0 African-American Women

Apparently, Explorers of Light are just that—light.

Nikon – http://www.nikonusa.com/…/lear…/nikon-ambassadors/index.page

24 Nikon Ambassadors

1 African-American Man

0 African-American Women

Just one?

Olympus – http://www.getolympus.com/us/en/visionaries

12 Visionaries

0 African-American Men

0 African-American Women

Are we not visionaries, too? I guess Jasmine Murrell’s use of mixed media and photography is just amateur hour.

Fuji- http://fujifilm-x.com/photographers/?fref=gc&dti=459369737580311

Over 400

1 African-American Man

0 African-American Women

400 ambassadors, but only 1 African American?

I didn’t see any faces that looked like mine on any of the lineups. As an African-American woman, and an avid Canon user, I would love to see creatives that look like me.

But not just for me. For the African American child, college student, or baby boomer, who believes they’re not worthy or good enough to photograph or be photographed.

I know the rebuttal will be—we don’t know any African African women and men. I encourage you to take a look in our communities and actively make your space and business more inclusive of people of color.

They say you should be the change you want to see in the world. But how can you be that change when you don’t see your own likeness represented in your industry?


Tomayia Colvin, is an international wedding and senior portrait photographer, best-selling children’s book author, and photography educator in Houston, Texas. She is the Leader of the Northeast Houston Tuesday Together Group and drives to make the community a place of where everyone is welcome. She is on a mission to celebrate diversity and work with conferences and workshop organizers to bridge the color division and to include voices that are missing from the photography industry. She’s the mom of two dynamic little people and is often busy shuffling kids from basketball practice to Cub Scouts. She lives for the car rider line, Dr. Pepper, and making blue jeans, Converse, and t-shirts the new business casual.

Tomayia has previously taught at WPPI, Imaging USA, United, The Focus Tour by Melanie Anderson, Turn It Up by the Academy of Wedding Photographers, The Revive Summit, The Professional Photographers Guild of Houston, and a host of others.

  1. This is so very awesome! Amazing work by all of the photographers shown, I pray this yells very loudly. You’ve just opened my eyes to the number of Black Photographers in this industry… so thank you.

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