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Building A Photographic Community
An Interview With Jean Ferro, President Of WIPI Page 2

Since physical exhibitions are very costly and require so many volunteers, this year we decided to try something different. Since we are an online resource, we have found our strength is in promoting women's visibility. We are currently in the middle of our "virtual * visual: people-places-things" call for entries. This is a virtual exhibition with a lot of categories for both professionals and amateurs. We have the best jurors from around the world including an historian from the Fox Talbot Museum in England as well as a writer/critic from India; Graham Howe, the CEO of Curatorial Assistance; a photo editor from Photo District News; and an art buyer from Chiat\Day.

We believe that promoting work is one of the best things we can provide for our members. With that promotion, they can approach a gallery and show they are being represented by an accredited organization. Many of our members have escalated their careers by exposure on the WIPI website. We find that exposure on our website opens the doors to local exhibition opportunities for our members.

SB: How does membership in WIPI increase an individual photographer's networking opportunities?

JF: WIPI offers discounts to programs for our members and we post a job bank every week on the site as well as other opportunities. There is a message board on the website that we are gradually building so members can start the communication process with each other about shows, prospects, and events.
I get so many requests regarding museum shows and curators from a gallery looking for women's work that I now have a section of the "private member board" where members can fill out a questionnaire and list a show. Our Member Photo Profiles are clips of work to give someone an idea of what our photographers are doing; from there they can usually click on a link to the photographer's website, e-mail, or to associated sites.

We also have a marketing section where we post stories about getting yourself out there and industry news about new equipment and a seminar section. There are book reviews and we even offer space for our members to promote their own workshops.

Our f2 publication, in combination with the WIPI archives, is a premiere resource and an unparalleled web network for the international community of women in photography.

SB: What future networking does WIPI have planned?

JF: We are participating in the International Photo Awards and Lucie Awards. This year it will be held in New York. In 2003 I presented Annie Leibovitz our Distinguished Photographer's Award at an incredible presentation at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

There is just so much to do, and each day we do the very best we can. Because of the high level of support and infrastructure they could offer, we think WIPI would be very well suited to be housed at a university in the near future. That way its archives and credentials would stay in place and remain philanthropic and at the same time support women's work, be able to provide exhibitions, retreats, seminars, and special lecture programs.

As photographers and artists go, we have wonderful ideas and great gusto, but in the end, an organization needs a certain structure and dependability for the best networking. With its current base on the Internet, a strong archive of online information and visual texture of women's work, WIPI is ready to take the next step up for its members.