As more workshops and conferences pop up around the photo world, discussions of diversity have become increasingly prevalent. One such person shining the light on this topic is Laura Babb, the founder of UK’s SNAP Photo Festival and an Rf 30 Rising Star in 2016.
“I am very aware that our industry as a whole tends to favor influencers over educators,” Babb says, “and I know there is a huge pool of untapped talent who may need encouragement and support to develop their skills as an educator.” Having heard other workshop organizers express trouble in finding educators other than white male photographers, Babb decided to create a scholarship program that gives a Europe-based female-identifying or non-gender-conforming photographer a package to help develop skills as an educational leader that includes mentoring, specialist workshop leader training and individual-tailored support, as well as a place speaking at SNAP’s next four-day event, April 23-27, 2018.
“We absolutely want the best people on our lineups, but we absolutely believe that the best people with the most to share aren’t always the most obvious choices,” Babb says. “It’s been a slow-burning issue for me that’s built over time.” With any issue comes opposition, however, and Babb has received some negative feedback after announcing this initiative in the fall. “We have had people say that promoting one specific group is in itself sexist,” she says. “This is positive action, though, rather than discrimination, and we are promoting people from other sections of our community as new speakers as well through our SNAP’s Got Talent competition.”
While just a few years old, SNAP’s various lineups of speakers have included artists, academics, creative consultants, financial advisors, SEO experts and BAFTA-winning broadcasters. “We always aim for speakers from diverse ethnic backgrounds and with a good gender split,” Babb says.
Applications for this year have closed, and the final winner will be selected by a panel of SNAP’s previous speakers and sponsors.