Bushwick-based Photography Collective Works to Challenge the Industry’s Status Quo

Isabel Garcia

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Photographers Sina Basila Hickey and Megan Mack bonded at a mutual friend’s book launch party over how they were both looking for a sense of community within the photography industry in New York. The conversation inspired Seeing Collective (SeeC), a supportive community for local photographers.

SeeC’s active members, which include three other female photographers, meet each month to exchange feedback on their work, share advice on self-promotion, organize SeeC projects and build their bond as a collective. 

Hickey and Mack initially planned on creating an all-woman collective because many of the women they knew in the industry were also craving a sense of community.

“But then we decided that was too exclusive,” Mack said. 

Hickey added, “We didn’t want to exclude anyone who has the same goals we do.”

Seeing Collective Group Photo

The group wants to disrupt the status quo in the photography industry. Mack and Hickey say they both wondered, Why aren’t photographers sharing their rates so that people know when they’re underselling themselves? Why is there a competitive atmosphere when collaboration could be more beneficial? What is the impact of systemic inequality within the industry?

Seeking to extend their discussions beyond the close-knit collective, SeeC partnered with BKC Director Justin Lin to develop Photo Café, a conversation series with industry professionals about photography topics and issues. The talks are held at BKC, a space in Bushwick that provides multimedia and photography programming.

Photo Cafe Panel Discussion

For the series, Hickey and Mack select speakers with different backgrounds who are interested in challenging industry standards. A community program open to the public, Photo Café is an intimate setting where the audience can join in on the conversation. 

“It doesn’t feel like there’s a hierarchy,” Mack said. “It feels more like a round circle even though there’s a panel discussion and Q&A. It invites a barrier break between the speakers and the audience.”

Upcoming Photo Café talks include, “Documenting A Neighborhood: how we document communities” on October 25, and “Photo Books: different approaches to publishing” on November 22. 

Another public program SeeC offers in collaboration with BKC is a critique forum. SeeC x BKC Sunday Critiques are free and open to photographers at any level who want to share their work and receive feedback. The public can also view SeeC’s group photo show, Disconnect, which opens on Thursday, October 3 at Contact Gallery in Brooklyn.

Images Courtesy of Seeing Collective

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