ELIZABETH, NJ – IStock, in partnership with Black Women Photographers, a global community and database of black women photographers and non-binary photographers, recently announced that Elizabeth-based filmmaker Malaika Muindi is one of four selected artists and the only one in the United States to receive his first global inclusion grant. The $20,000 grant, awarded to four commercial photographers, videographers and illustrators, is part of iStock’s commitment to supporting diverse creatives whose work brings underrepresented communities to life.
Muindi creates short videos and portraits to connect her audience to people, communities and experiences that may be foreign or familiar. According to a press release detailing this honor, this grant will allow Muindi to continue to share her narratives and create experiences that connect people, as well as expand her audience. The other three other recipients are located in the United Kingdom, Colombia and Australia. The grant is part of Getty Images’ broader grants program, which has awarded $1.8 million to photographers and filmmakers worldwide since its inception.
“I’ve been following Black Women Photographers for a few years and saw the opportunity on their social media pages,” Muindi said on Saturday, February 19. “I was initially reluctant to apply, but the support and encouragement from my friends was the push I needed to take the leap of faith to apply for the scholarship.”
Muindi said she was contacted by Black Women Photographers founder Polly Irungu and said she was a finalist for the opportunity. She said Irungu then scheduled a final interview with Barbara DuMetz, a professional photographer for more than three decades, and Claudia Grimaldi Marks, senior art director at Getty Images. She told them about her past, current and future goals as a photographer and aspiring filmmaker and was subsequently selected as an Inclusion Grant recipient.
“Winning this grant means my team and I now have the opportunity to continue to share narratives and create experiences that connect people with people in (high definition),” Muindi said. “We will also now have the means to further develop our craft by mentoring talented and experienced artists. The grant has given us the opportunity to further expand our work and audience.
“One of the projects I hope to complete with this grant is a web series called ‘Black as Place’ – created, hosted and produced by Isaiah Little of GalleryRetail. In Black as Place, Isaiah joins friends and comrades to explore some of the world’s blackest places for a few days. In every place, both historically and today, he unleashes impossible tales of thriving communities through a place, its food, and its shops. The trailer is currently available on YouTube and we will be releasing the first full episode soon.” To see the trailer, go to https://tinyurl.com/2nx5y3mu.
One of the things Muindi said excited her the most was the opportunity to be mentored by DuMetz, a pioneer in commercial photography, and to license her work 100 percent on the iStock website.
“I am extremely grateful and excited to be the US recipient of this grant. To be selected and recognized by Black Women Photographers and Getty Images means so much,” said Muindi. “To have had the opportunity to be mentored by Barbara DuMetz is truly a privilege. I spoke to her on the phone for over an hour yesterday. During our conversation, she was generous with her advice. Barbara reminded me of the importance of continuing to create relevant work that engages my colleagues and my community as I grow my career as a photographer and filmmaker. IStock by Getty Images is one of the best and most well-known image platforms. It is extremely important that my commercial photography work is featured on the website for worldwide use in order to increase my audience and further my success as a commercial photographer.
“Inclusion grants supporting Black creators provide additional resources to a community that are often overlooked,” Muindi continued. “Black culture has had a huge impact on mainstream media and American culture as a whole, but we don’t always get the credit. Continued support from platforms and organizations with the resources to support the growing community of Black creators can kickstart the trend for others to follow.”
“I’ve followed the work of Polly Irungu in creating a space to empower and promote the work of black women photographers since she started and I’ve been impressed with what she’s accomplished,” Marks said Saturday , February 19th “So many of the creators she features and who are part of her community are just so talented and amazing. Everyone should know and employ them.”
Marks said she worked with Irungu for the 2021 Getty Images Creative Bursary: Definition Future grant, and that Irungu somehow approached her about a grant partnership. Getty Images has previously offered inclusion grants to support “emerging editorial talent in underrepresented groups.” When developing the Inclusion Grant for Creative Commercial Artists, Marks said she knew right away that she wanted Black Women Photographers as a US partner.
“Representation is important,” Marks said. “There are so many talented black photographers and filmmakers out there and it enriches us all to pay attention to them and hire them. I believe that we should use the platform that we have here at Getty Images and iStock to nurture, recognize and fund emerging creatives so we can contribute to their success in the industry.”
Getty Images has been providing grants for most of its history, Marks said. To date, she said, they’ve awarded more than $1.8 million to photographers and filmmakers worldwide. The Inclusion Grants were created in 2020 to support independent photojournalists around the world by providing critical financial resources to ensure they continue to shoot footage that informs and inspires. She said 2022 marks the first year that the Inclusion Grants have been awarded to support emerging talent who create breakthrough images that challenge perceptions of the world and give them the financial freedom to continue that work.
“Malaika’s work is some of the most beautiful and emotional stories we’ve seen,” said Marks. “Her imagery is vibrant and uplifting, and we could see that she is a talent worth supporting. I hope we can continue to work with Black Women Photographers and other organizations around the world to offer financial support to underrepresented photographers and filmmakers everywhere so we can one day change the face of the industry.”
Photos courtesy of Malaika Muindi