“And that is what we should be teaching these young girls: to take up space. Nothing is as important as taking up space in society and cementing yourself.” - Zozibini Tunzi, Miss Universe 2019

As a hub that empowers visual creatives, Gump is always on-the-go scouting cool stuff out there for you. Recently, a community based in Malaysia really caught our eyes!

Yes, we’re talking about Women Photographers Malaysia (WPM), a group that’s centred on supporting women to break barriers through visual storytelling.

As we all know, photography has traditionally been a male-dominant industry. But as technology and education become increasingly accessible, more and more women have come forward to express world views through their unique lens.

Let’s dive into the story of these passion-bound sisters.👀

🔸 So what’s your story? How did this all come about?

WPM was founded by the three of us - Annice, Aisha & Carol during the start of the pandemic when most of the world was experiencing the lockdown phase. Being in isolation did not bode too well with us and so conversations sparked and ideas started brewing in the wee hours of the night.

We call it the 3am idea because that was around the time when the concept of WPM came to life. What's astonishing was that we managed to work well together as a team without any physical meet-ups during the self-isolation period working seamlessly whilst piecing the idea of WPM together as we went by.

🔹 How did you Founders meet one another?

We each met at different occasions at different times. Annice already knew Carol from past photography stints and as for myself, Annice reached out to me out of pure interest in connecting to another fellow female photographer who was another camera brand ambassador.

🔸 What’s your vision?

WPM hopes to develop an inclusive culture that increases gender equality and helps in the strive for balance by ensuring better support, and career progression for women photographers. Hosting workshops, organising monthly meet-ups and providing a safe space amongst women visual storytellers is part of what we hope to accomplish.

We hope to hold our fellow shutter sisters non-binary photographers accountable by nurturing them to develop their skills, knowledge and encourage them to find the strength within in order to start putting themselves forward.

🔹 What types of photographers should join WPM?

WPM is open to all women & non-binary photographers, videographers or storytellers within the creative industry in Malaysia.

🔸 How has COVID-19 affected you as individuals and photographers?

COVID-19 has hit all of us very hard financially. As photographers who are making ends meet, there is a clear revenue decrease as the world economy sees the start of a recession from the current pandemic. Because photography isn’t seen as a necessity but more of complimentary service, there will be a drop in demand for the work we are offering and therefore, a decline in our income.

However, we must see ourselves through this challenge by using the additional time we have by improving ourselves as individuals and as a business. Now is the time to create a proper portfolio, update our websites and invest in online workshops to learn new skills as a visual artist.

When the economy starts to recover, we will be able to stand out from the rest, offering better and improved services.

🔹 Biggest challenges you come across as a community? How do you overcome that?

Gender equality has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. However, there are still significant shortcomings of gender inequality persisting in the realm of visual culture with the lack of diversity of women's visibility, where women/non-binary photographers in Malaysia have fought for equality and recognition in both publishings opportunities and pay, but many of our shutter sisters still struggle with discrimination and cultural mores that do not allow them to advance as artists and storytellers, to some, even take advantage of as an apprentice.

As photographic technology and education became more accessible worldwide, a growing number of women photographers are shaping how society looks. This enables them to carry the mantle to tell their stories through their lenses by rebuilding the standard of quality work and voices, addressing topics from providing a direct women perspective on the vulnerable yet resilient individuals, diverse socio-economic, political, and geographical contexts and more.

It’s a way of seeing the world differently, through women’s eyes. In a field that's previously dominated by males, we at WPM feel it's crucial to acknowledge that there's been an increase of female photographers who are equally competent in the technicalities of photography as well.

🔸 What’s a recent initiative by WPM?

At the moment, WPM is organising an exhibition in collaboration with Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival (KLPF). Our exhibition is titled Her. Perspective showcasing 30 images from 30 female photographers.

The exhibition will be displayed from 19th August to 19th September 2020 on an online platform due to Covid-19.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the story! Don’t forget to check out WPM’s virtual photo exhibition “Her. Perspective” here: cutt.ly/HERPerspectiveWPMxKLPF2020

About “Her. Perspective”:

The theme of WPM first-ever exhibition entitled "Her. Perspective" is a collection of artwork by the community of Women Photographers Malaysia, pioneering female perspectives through the lens and creating work that tells stories to impact, break boundaries and develop an inclusive culture.

This could be photos of marginalised communities, multiculturalism, or minority demographics, all based on the photographer’s interpretation to encourage a wider photographic landscape to a broad and representative range of talent, empowering women to own their stories.

“Her. Perspective” woman is constantly evolving and learning to use her creativity and talent to tell stories, be it hers or others. She is brave, courageous, doesn't back down from challenges, lends her voice to the voiceless, and her ear to the unheard.

There are other upcoming events as well which will be held in September 2020 in collaboration with KL20x20. We have photowalks and workshops planned out so stay tuned for that!

About WPM:

Women Photographers Malaysia (WPM) is a Malaysian community of empowered women who break barriers. It’s a platform for where ideas can be nurtured and support can be given in pursuit of passion through visual storytelling.

WPM was founded by three professional photographers; Aisha Nazar, Annice Lyn & Carol Yong and has an extensive arm of support that are made up of two main contributors; Carmen Foo and SueAnne K.

BIOS:

CO-FOUNDERS:

Aisha Nazar is a full time independent commercial, travel and documentary photographer whose visual narratives traverse along unique and vibrant landscapes of culture within communities of the world. In 2019, she was the first person to be named Sony Alpha x AirAsia Joint Ambassador. She is now a Sony Alpha Guru and founded Øyecular, a creative company offering visual services.

IG: @aishanazar

Annice Lyn is a documentary, sports photographer & visual artist who believes that the art of photography is being able to articulate and transpose fragments of moment into timeless imagery. A current Canon EOS Youth Ambassador who seeks to inspire young emerging creators & storytellers.

IG: @annicelyn

Carol Yong is a portrait and documentary photographer who loves working with families to capture authentic moments. She is also a vocal advocate of printing photos.

IG: @carolyongphotos

MAIN CONTRIBUTORS:

SueAnne K. is a professional portrait photographer based in Kuala Lumpur and a Sony Alpha Guru. She is fearless when it comes to pushing her creative boundaries and sharing her vision. Specialised in Portrait Photography, her portfolio ranges from creative portrait, fashion, beauty, and lifestyle photos.

IG: @sueannekphotography

Carmen Foo is a full-time wedding filmmaker and family photographer at @livelaife who believes that all of life’s stories deserve visual spaces that reflect the intersection of complex frames and emotions.

IG: @carmenfoofoo