Walking in their shoes. Women photojournalists break new ground.

Amy Toensing at Visa

What does visual storytelling through women’s eyes look like in these gender-focused times? Photojournalism is still a man’s world. But this is changing. Three award-winning women photojournalists share what it takes to shoot their complex and compelling subjects in the U.S. and around the world. Here’s my reporting on their remarkable imagery and perspectives gathered at Visa pour l’Image, France’s premier annual photojournalism festival. 

Why I do this work: the Linzer Torte connection

Communication is an alluring career choice when you grow up bridging differences from an early age.  It’s about making sense, making connections, making a difference. It’s about empathy – shifting your perspective to that of the other person, and learning to communicate from that point of view.

I soon learned the importance of framing as a documentary filmmaker – whether it was images, stories or issues.  As an advocate, I discovered that “reframing” a case could do wonders to advance a cause.

Communicating the change you want, then seeing it happen…that experience got into my blood early, and has stayed with me for the long term.

A ten-year-old girl in Nepal starts secondary school.  A village gains its first health worker in Ethiopia.  Laos’s government re-commits itself to immunization.  Global leaders prioritize women and children.

I’m grateful to have contributed in my small way to something big:  progress toward the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the world’s promise to end poverty and inequality.

It meant persuading decision makers, engaging media, telling stories, supporting communities, motivating teams – and building alliances.  It also meant politics, of course – but that comes with the territory.

Today we have a stunning array of communication options at our disposal in a networked universe in constant evolution. It’s altering power relationships and enabling truly global consultation; but it’s also requiring an unprecedented degree of strategic clarity, focused execution and collective action.



“Work is love made visible”, my grandmother used to say.  She was thinking of the time it took to make a Linzer Torte:  fashioning the nutty, spicy dough; laying a delicate lattice pattern over raspberry jam; removing the cake from the oven at just the right moment. She had a recipe, but it was all in the execution: cooking as transformation, and food rapture.

I do this work because it’s the best way I know to give back, supporting change makers with knowledge, experience and creativity skills. The recipe changes with each project, but the commitment is constant.

This is a terrific time to learn from others so I’m devoting this blog to exploring how advocacy, media, data visualization and design are contributing to social impact, notably for health.

Look forward to dialoguing with on this new journey.