Home Wealth Kenya Polly Irungu: A Look at Kenya’s First Woman to Work at the...

Polly Irungu: A Look at Kenya’s First Woman to Work at the Office of the US Vice President

Polly Irungu
Photographer Polly Irungu PHOTO/HuffPost

Polly Irungu, a self-taught photographer, made history in 2022 after becoming the first Kenyan woman to work at the Office of the US Vice President, Kamala Harris.

She was appointed as the office’s official photo editor.

Additionally, she is the editor of Black Women Photographers, an online directory of about 100 Black female photographers.

Here is her story as told by EAFeed.

Polly was born in Nairobi, where she lived with her parents before moving together to the United States.

She went on to live in different cities across the US including Kansas, Oregon, Washington DC, Arkansas and New York.

Polly holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon which she attended between 2012 and 2017.

After completing her university education, she wanted to pursue photography but she had difficulty penetrating the industry dominated by white men.

In an interview, Polly said black photographers only got chances to showcase their talents during social uprisings or the Black History month.

It was then when she gathered photojournalists from across the world and set up Black Women Photographers (BWP), a platform to showcase their works.

BWP was launched with a Ksh 1.9 million ($14,500) COVID-19 relief fund to help black women photographers who were in dire need of financial relief due to the pandemic.

According to the company, to date, it has provided over Ksh 16.3 million ($125,000) in financial grants to black creatives and brand new mirrorless Nikon gear.

“Black Women Photographers is a home for Black women to receive proper recognition, and most importantly, get hired

“Dedicated to providing a resource for the industry’s gatekeepers, it supports its members through promoting their work in an active database distributed to photo editors, directors, curators, and art buyers,” Polly said.

Polly Irungu
Polly Irungu PHOTO/Mwakilishi

At the time of this publishing, BWP has over 2,100 black women and non-binary identifying photographers, spanning over 60 countries and over 35 US states.

“Every day, somebody’s posting a new opportunity, a new grant, a new whatever that photographers can apply to. Before, the mindset within the industry was that everything is a competition and that there’s only room for one person

“Yet here we are. That kind of feeling, that kind of community is unmatched and that has been one of the most impactful things for me starting this collective,” Polly said in an interview.

With BWP, Polly hopes to give black photographers a bigger space in the industry.

On the other hand, she has worked at various high profile organizations including X, formerly Twitter, where she worked between December 2021 and February 2022.

Additionally, Polly was selected for the first class of Hosts for X Spaces Spark Program and worked for a period of three months from January 2022 and March 2022.

She was also one of 100 US-based creators accepted into LinkedIn’s first class of creators, and she was contracted by WeTransfer as an Assistant Photo Editor from March and July 2022.

Polly has also served as the DEI committee co-chair at the National Press Photographers Association, and later as a International Women’s Media Foundation Gwen Infill fellow since April 2022.

She is a teacher at the International Center of Photography, and one of 20 journalism innovators a part of CUNY’s entrepreneurship program this year.

Polly’s work has been published in numerous publications, including Adobe’s Create Magazine, The New York Times, Reuters, Global Citizen, NPR, BBC News, MEFeater, Refinery29, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed and CNN.

Talk to us

Thanks for reading our article. Got comments or opinions about our journalism? Please send us a WhatsApp message on [closed]