A few days ago an ex-colleague of mine had posted a photograph of the number 5 on his social media profile to celebrate five years working at Reuters. Also over the last few years, old friends have been changing their LinkedIn profiles to serious new jobs and changes in seniority levels. Seeing that photo I realised that 5 years ago, when my ex-colleague was starting his new job, I was starting femLENS.

It began with an idea, or rather anger that women were still largely missing from documentary photography. I wasn’t the ideal person to change this but I had some experience and skills, and I really cared! I spoke to my best friend and co-founder Maria about the idea, and she had supported me in those early days as she still does today! I also got help from some great organsations in Ireland to write the mission because I thought that it was really important to get that right. We still use the original mission statement because this work is as valid today as it was in 2015. So I did the first series of workshops.

The following year I met a really great person who was also excited by the ideas behind femLENS – which came a bit as a surprise to me – someone else also wants to work on this! For almost two years, Bogdan worked with me on any idea to further femLENS’ mission in his spare time and sometimes during work time too! He made me more confident that femLENS was important not only to me. There were other wonderful volunteers around at that time contributing to femLENS in different ways.

Later on I moved countries and because this was pre-COVID-19 times working remotely didn’t go so smoothly, and for a while I worked (with support from ex classmates and colleagues on different projects). But things were getting busy, I was doing workshops, exhibitions, talking to past participants, and generally try to grow so I looked at some online tools to put together a volunteer team (feel free to ask me how to look for volunteers and work remotely if you’re on a shoestring budget!). That’s when things really got interesting.

Anyway long story short, it’s been 5 years, we’ve worked with nearly 80 women from 13 countries, their ages ranging from 13 to 64 years old. We’ve organised 7 exhibitions, spoken at different events, published a magazine, and much more. Our students all came together this spring to work on a common project. And our volunteer team is 14 women globally involved at different levels. You can read about all of our achievements in our impact reports! For 2017-2018 and for 2018-2019.

My professional development may seem sketchy sometimes (I’ve left jobs because they were taking away time I wanted to spend working on femLENS), but my passion CV is pretty consistent!

As we celebrate 5 years this August, we’re very happy to present you with our book “Unlearning the Ordinary: through a lens for the commons”! Our goal is to get it into libraries and community centres in different parts of the world, and to share them with the women whose work is featured in the book! Please support our fundraise today. A donation of 30 will get one book to one participant or library!

Happy 5 year anniversary femLENS! And thanks to everyone for being with us!

Donate on our GlobalGiving page.

Order your copy of the book on Blurb.

Best wishes,
Jekaterina

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