Published October 18, 2018
Chloe Coleman, Flash Forward 2018 Juror
Photos by Alana Paterson, 2018 Flash Forward Winner
Journalism has a reputation of focusing on the negative. War, death, destruction, poverty…the list is endless. Photojournalism specifically is often accused of contributing to compassion fatigue. While I do not believe our industry should shield the public from the tragedies of the world, I do find merit in work that focuses on positive stories as well.
Positive stories can still speak to a greater issue by showing solutions to the problem rather than only focusing on the problem itself.
Alana Paterson’s project, Title IX, is an example. A Canadian photographer she looks at a topic that is a passion in her country: hockey; more specifically, young women in hockey age 14-17. She outlines the issue in her artist statement:
“The top-earning female hockey player takes home a salary of just $25,000 (USD). Compare that to the top-earning male hockey player, $14-million, and you may just be looking at the largest pay gap in the world. U.S. adolescent male hockey receives more than 3.5 million in government funding annually; women remain un-funded. This despite women’s hockey growing more than 1000% in the last 20 years.”
She goes on to explain:
“Girls are 6 times more likely than boys to drop out of a sport as they approach puberty. When young women involved in hockey were asked why they thought that number was so high, a lot of heartbreaking answers were given, but the most common theme heard was that there was no financial future for them in hockey.”
And yet her photos do not depict suffering but triumph. Despite the disheartening statistics, the young women appear strong and confident, with subtle details of femininity present in the images that hint at their identities.
Paterson confirmed the resilient nature of the players, “I had never met a female hockey player before I shot this story and I can honestly say they were some of the happiest, well-adjusted group of teenagers in the 21st century I had ever met.”
The young women in Paterson’s photos show the benefits of the change in thinking when it comes to women in hockey and challenge the view to think what would be possible for them if they had the resources to continue in the sport.
Chloe Coleman is an award winning photo editor at The Washington Post, covering international news and Outlook. She is a contributing writer and editor on the Washington Post’s In Sight photo blog where she has written about and featured contemporary photography, photo books and exhibitions. Her career in photo editing began as an intern at NPR, followed by her first staff position as a digital photo editor at The Denver Post. She attended the Columbus College of Art and Design and is a graduate of the photojournalism program at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Chloe also serves as a faculty member at The Kalish Visual Editing Workshop and was a juror for the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward 2018.