A new Canadian mentorship program aims to help photographers from diverse backgrounds make a career in visual storytelling.
Called Room Up Front, the program offers support to early career BIPOC photojournalists and documentary photographers.
Vancouver-based photojournalist Jimmy Jeong said he started organizing Room Up Front because he noticed a disparity between Canadian photojournalists and the people and communities they cover.
“Many of the important stories centre around marginalized communities. It’s about time that these communities are met with someone from shared experiences and understanding,” Jeong told Story Board via email this week.
“Who points the lens is important because their experiences can dictate how they approach stories.”
The program will offer each participant a year of mentorship from established Canadian photojournalists at no cost. Three experienced, working photographers will team up to offer support to groups of five to seven mentees, meeting online bi-weekly to share experiences, set goals and have group discussions.
The program will also bring in guest speakers to teach key skills such as ethics in photojournalism, business skills, copyright, and pitching. At the end of the year, participants will have the opportunity for a portfolio review with photo editors from multiple publications.
Jeong said he doesn’t expect his small, grassroots program to fix all of the systemic issues within the media industry.
“Things have to be changed at the top and among senior levels,” he said. “But this is something I can help with.”
He said getting the mentorship program off the ground hasn’t been easy.
“It really was a concerted effort with heroic advice and talented people,” he said, crediting photographers Hannah Yoon, Michelle Siu, Pat Kane, Amber Bracken and Justin Tang for their help.
“Anyone in Canadian photojournalism will recognize these talented photographers.”
For more information, or to apply for a mentorship, check out the Room Up Front website.
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