keeping my ducks-in-a-row
background info from Photo Artist / President of WIPI Jean Ferro
THOUGHTS - INSIGHTS - MEMORIES of 17 YEARS OF GROWTH & OUTREACH
June 2, 2017
- I've headed up the organization from Spring 2000 through May 2017 and
WIPI an established 501.c.3 here in California still exists, the full
organization files, printed matter and digital files are now archived
in the Women in Photography International Collection at the Beinecke Library
at Yale University— change is in the air.
The 3 year WIPI file transition is finalized! What seemed like a completion
date of June 2015… stretched and re stretched to spring 2017. It
was complicated with so many unknowns regarding files, programs and the
website create the presentation CHARTER GALLERIES, check and add to the
website documentation became a much larger project then anyone could have
anticipated. The decision to make the introduction binder for the Beinecke…
then to add in six more libraries was well worth the time, effort and
energy to create a substantial stable base as our introduction into the
Yale system and their Archive.it program.
I intended to take on the job of bringing WIPI into the 21st century via
the web. Thought it would be a year or two project. So much for my calculations,
ended up being 17 years and eventually place the entire organization files
into a permanent collection at the Beinecke. At times visually it felt
like a Disney amusement park, merry-go-round et al from a roller coaster
ride, Disney's small world, lost in the jungle to a brightly lit main
Each year, each event brought new challenges and opportunities. The final
transition years required extreme detail and very long hours, cutting
back membership and outreach programs, leaving only the large production
of the Charter Gallery and biographical program.
I’ve made some wonderful friends and shared lots of stories and
events with a talented group of women photographers and photo professionals.
When you look though the website you'll see women at work making great
progress in the photographic arts. A few stepped up to help WIPI be successful
from behind the scenes handling files to onsite production of displays
of members work. Their names can be found within the historical pages
of the WIPI website…the doers and shakers in life and work.
There were those that wanted a lot and gave very little and others that
rose to support or be supportive with their expertise, talent or financial
support. In the beginning and the exploding worldwide web in late 1999
and a huge surge starting with 2000, the beginning of the 21st century,
WIPI was the only game in town to provide substantial representation for
women photographers online. Many women/men didn't’t know how to
work with image sizing and extensions .jpg or Tiff and we were bombarded
with files that took many exchanges to handle for competition inclusion.
We were not automated, everything was hand coded. Those were the most
difficult years of repetition and file handling. I learned to accept that
it’s all part of running a non-profit. The “me” generation,
I was familiar with the me generation as an early 1970's self-portrait
artist, and often herald as a creative inspiration or the opposite , frowned
upon for "narcissism".
So many things changed when the cell phone grew from a flip phone to a
larger screen w/ camera the two lenses, front and back. The selfie really
took hold around 2010-2011 once women photographers found their visual
voice on the super highway. They could use the free source of social media
that had grown into a more stable outlet to create their clusters of “likes”
to feed their creative outlet from simple what I ate today, cute animals...
long list of everything to feed their egos and vision.
The membership organizations became less a necessity for many. Instead
online education and seminar training as well as workshops and portfolio
reviews, etc. Women seemed at first to want the comfort of learning with
women, then they wanted to play with the big boys and circulate in the
broader marketplace. Often, WIPI was the grounding force where their work
was featured and had the history of well established female photographers
with careers at the top of the list…very good association for sure!
Their tendency was to put their time into themselves and free outreach.
All very understandable as many are heads of households as well as the
main emotional support for their families, elders, children, husbands
and or/boyfriends and friends. They would have to now carve out what precious
time they had left to create their images and take them as far as their
budget would allow. Seemed that most were interested in competitions,
gaining credentials, expanding their audience, large or small.
With the cell phone capability to view, take photos, have clips of info
grew, the less people wanted to read in-depth information or instruction.
I would send out an email and in the first paragraph would be the most
valuable part of the instruction and receive a response email back asking
me “exactly” the info that was already there, often in the
very first paragraph. By 2014, image life promotion became a headline/image
and brief capture of information. HENSE came the decision it was time
to regroup and secure the files into a permanent collection. Deadlines
were pushed to the limit and then pushed again. Finally all was completed
in May /June 2017. I thank everyone for their patience and my sometimes
very curt responses .... patience isn't one of my best assets. The Beinecke
curator George Miles was so very patient his hands were full too, due
to the Beinecke renovation and regrouping to open in mid September 2016.
It now seems perfect timing since the elections and the country is in
a tail spin of confusion, displacement, harassment personified by new
leadership (although not everyone feels the same). The current numbers
of the public and international leaders as of June 2, 2017 are growing
with doubt and trust over several issues, especially now with the withdrawal
of from the Paris Climate agreement by the newly elected USA president.
Plans to cut many outreach programs, calling top news agencies Fake News
all the while his facts and figures are revealed as not credible and proof
has been shown in black and white, and video footage, and so many more
issues from digital fraud, cyber attacks, ... it's time to change our
FOCUS, hopefully to the betterment of society. 2017 is a BRAVE NEW WORLD.
I hope when we look back on this era, we will arrive at a new plateau
of understanding and growth. As a woman I supported Hillary Clinton and
found it so wonderful that she met her husband Bill at the the Yale Law
Library across from the Beinecke.
Now that WIPI is at the Beinecke Library at Yale University, all is good,
I’m much relieved and grateful for all the GOOD things that happened
and all the reminders of stress will pass over time, turned around into
I’ve enjoyed the creativity of the outreach programs, meeting tons
of wonderful people. I did cry a bit for each passing event that was publicized
about a personality or event when my images were buried in my storage
and impossible to stop, find and publish the precious image of my own.
I would just say, it's OK..the time will be right.
My brow would rise when I would see "new" gruops startig up...
hanging on to our skirt hem, yet not giving WIPI the credit due... as
if they never heard of us, yet used our terminology, incorporated our
full name into their promotion campaings, used our type style to look
like us..the list is long. I even contacted a few over the years and they
would stop for a moment... then months later do a competition and incorporate
our look and info again... some are not non-profits and more vanity programs.
It will be very important for those who have participated with WIPI in
exhibitions or Membership make clear they are part of Women In Photography
International. Orginally called Women in Photography and moved forward
in early 1990's to include International. We are happy that all women
It's now time for me enjoy my personal archive, make books, work with
collectors and investors, do exhibitions, new projects... the list is
long. Also would like to continue to share my experience through lectures
about women's work, my photography experiences and my love of living unintentionally
outside of the box, it just seems to be my natural way. Dive in and just
do it. ... don't worry, keep your eye on the prize and remember if something
is wrong, you can fix it later. Please enjoy WIPI's archive history of
incredible women's work, progress and success.