Polly Irungu made history as the first official photo editor for Kamala Harris. Irungu, a young Kenyan-American woman, is breaking barriers in a field that has traditionally underrepresented women of colour. Her love for photography began as a way of coping with a major move (from Kenya to the US). Her high school counsellor suggested that she should participate in the yearbook to find a creative outlet. She soon discovered her passion for storytelling and capturing the moment. Despite having no idea what to do with a camera, she purchased one during her first job as a cashier at McDonald’s because she thought it would be fun to learn the hard way. This decision ultimately led her to the path of photography.
Her appointment as the first official photo editor for Kamala Harris is the result of years of honing her craft in stylized settings and out in the field while pushing for inclusivity in an industry that often overlooks Black women.
“As a Black African woman, I’ve learned that you have to advocate for yourself, promote yourself, know your worth, and create opportunities because they will not be delivered to you on a silver platter. The end result is determined by the quality of your work, persistence, and consistency,” she explains.
She is a trailblazer, making history as the first Black woman to hold such a position in the White House. This is an important step forward in the representation of Black women in positions of power and influence. The United States truly is the land of the Free!
Her appointment is also a testament to the power of hard work and determination. By consistently advocating for herself and pushing for inclusivity, she has made a mark in an industry that often excludes women of colour. Irungu is a reminder of the importance of representation and the necessity to create opportunities for those who are frequently overlooked. Her appointment makes a powerful statement that positions of power and influence belong to Black women.
The Biden-Harris campaign approached Irungu in 2020 to become the official photo editor for Kamala Harris. They tasked her with capturing and curating images that would showcase the Vice President’s journey and impact. Irungu’s appointment is significant because it highlights the importance of diversity in the media industry.
Photography and journalism often underrepresent women of colour. Women photographers have fewer opportunities as photographers. Irungu’s role as Kamala Harris’ photo editor not only amplifies her voice but also opens the door for more women of colour to break into the creative space.
Furthermore, Irungu is also the founder and member of Black Women Photographers (BWP). The organization aims to create a supportive community for Black women photographers and promote their work. The organization hosts an annual summit where photographers can network, attend workshops, and learn from industry professionals.
This year, BWP is hosting its third annual summit, which will take place in Brooklyn, New York. The summit aims to provide a platform for Black women photographers to showcase their work to a global audience. The event will feature keynote speakers, workshops, and portfolio reviews.
Irungu’s achievements highlight the importance of representation in the media industry. The arts and media industry should be a space where artists are free to express themselves freely. Irungu is creating a more inclusive and diverse industry as she continues to elevate women minority photographers.
Polly Irungu’s appointment as Kamala Harris’ official photo editor and her involvement in BWP are significant steps towards increasing diversity and representation in the media industry. By showcasing the work of Black women photographers and amplifying their voices, Irungu is breaking barriers and paving the way for more women of colour to enter the field. Her story is a reminder that representation matter. There is a need for more diversity in the arts and media industry.
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