Jun 212022
 archive : 2022

CRAFTING YOUR CAREER: “Destigmatizing Side Hustles”

It’s the big open secret of the photography community: everyone does side work. Come and hear how different rockstar photographers subsidize and develop their careers with work that’s not just editorial photography.

Speakers: Mengwen Cao Carolyn Fong Idris Solomon

Moderators: Tara Pixley

Location: Online

Presented by:

  • Diversify Photo
  • Photoville

Supported by:

  • Leica Camera

It’s a big open secret of the photography community: everyone does side work. Come hear how photographers Mengwen Cao, Carolyn Fong, and Idris Solomon subsidize and develop their careers with work that’s not just editorial photography in a conversation moderated by Tara Pixley.

Crafting Your Career is a web series to create pathways for freelancing visual storytellers to become successful in the photography industry. With workshops that talk about the art of the side hustle, creating collectives, and understanding contracts, these discussions and presentations from all-star and up-and-coming photographers are designed to guide members of our photographic community towards growth and success in their careers.

The workshops are especially geared towards BIPOC photographers, and are open to photographers anywhere in the world. We are here to support BIPOC and non-Western photographers to have successful careers.

Speaker Bios

  • Mengwen Cao

    Mengwen Cao

    Mengwen Cao (they/them) is a photographer, artist, and educator. Born and raised in China, they are currently based in New York.

    As a queer immigrant, they use care and tenderness to explore spaces between race, gender, and cultural identity. As a board member of Authority Collective, they are championing diverse narratives and perspectives in the media industry.

    Their projects have been featured in publications like Aperture, the New York Times, NPR, Mashable, BUST, Foreign Policy, the Guardian, Sina, and Tencent. They have participated in international exhibitions like Photoville, Jimei x Arles, and Lianzhou Foto Festival.

    Cao graduated from the New Media Narratives and Documentary Practice program at the International Center of Photography. They received NLGJA’s Excellence in Photojournalism Award in 2019. They were recognized by The Lit List in 2018, PDN 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch in 2019, and World Press Photo 6×6 Asia Talent in 2020.

  • Carolyn Fong

    Carolyn Fong

    Carolyn Fong (she/her) is a commercial, editorial, and brand photographer working throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. She specializes in creating imagery that celebrates the craft, people, and spaces that create community — often but not always — with some food and drinks.

    As an Asian-American woman, business owner, mother, and artist, she deeply believes that people deserve to be represented, seen, heard and valued. Whoever you love, however you self-identify, and whatever your race, cultural background, or abilities — Fong wants to work with you. Having been in many spaces throughout her life where she was the only Asian person, or POC, she knows how important representation is for BIPOC individuals in the visual media landscape. Behind the camera, Fong brings the full breadth of her life experiences and knowledge to every aspect of the creative process.

    She knows first hand the meaning and the value of having BIPOC creatives at the table. She believes wholeheartedly that Black lives matter. She is committed to being anti-racist in her life and business.

    With a degree from the ArtCenter College of Design and over 15 years of experience, she and her production team are ready to make your project a success.

    Fong is also a proud member of Diversify Photo and Women Photograph.

  • Idris Solomon

    Idris Solomon

    Idris Solomon (he/him) is a visual artist with over 10 years of experience in the marketing, advertising, and entertainment industry.

    In parallel, he uses photography to focus on stories that are overlooked within the African American community. He photographs dancers and gymnasts in Harlem, funeral homes in East New York, muralists in Bushwick, Black cowboys in Houston, athletes and eco challenges in Fiji, racing drones in France, and unit stills for television and movies. He also photographs his wife and son.

    Solomon is the creative director and host of the Black Shutter Podcast, which gives Black photographers a platform to tell their own stories. Tune in.

Moderator Bios

  • Tara Pixley

    Tara Pixley

    Tara Pixley is a queer Jamaican-American photojournalist and assistant professor of journalism at Temple University. Her photography, which reimagines race, gender, and LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities through a liberation lens, has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, Newsweek, Allure, HuffPost, ProPublica, Nieman Reports, and ESPN, among many others.

    She is a 2022 Reynolds Journalism Fellow, a 2021 IWMF NextGen fellow, a 2020 World Press Photo Solutions Visual Journalism Initiative awardee, and a visiting 2016 Knight fellow at Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism.

    Pixley is the secretary of the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Board and the executive director of Authority Collective, an organization dedicated to establishing equity in visual media.


  • Diversify Photo

    Diversify Photo

    Diversify Photo is a community of BIPOC and non-Western photographers, editors, and visual producers working to break with the predominantly colonial and patriarchal eye through which history and the media have recorded the images of our time.

  • Photoville


    Founded in 2011 in Brooklyn, NY, Photoville was built on the principles of addressing cultural equity and inclusion, which we are always striving for, by ensuring that the artists we exhibit are diverse in gender, class, and race.

    In pursuit of its mission, Photoville produces an annual, city-wide open air photography festival in New York City, a wide range of free educational community initiatives, and a nationwide program of public art exhibitions.

    By activating public spaces, amplifying visual storytellers, and creating unique and highly innovative exhibition and programming environments, we join the cause of nurturing a new lens of representation.

    Through creative partnerships with festivals, city agencies, and other nonprofit organizations, Photoville offers visual storytellers, educators, and students financial support, mentorship, and promotional & production resources, on a range of exhibition opportunities.

    For more information about Photoville visit,

This website was made possible thanks to the generous support and partnership of Photowings