Photographer Helena Price started a portrait project at the beginning of this year called Techies. She put out a call for underrepresented people in the tech industry of Silicon Valley. She wanted to hear from women, people of color, people over 50, people with disabilities, and more.
Her goals with the portrait project is to “show the outside world a more comprehensive picture of people who work in tech. I also want to bring a bit of attention to folks in the industry whose stories have never been heard, considered or celebrated.”
For each person chosen, she took a portrait picture of them and then interviewed them at length. The project is beautifully put together with each person getting to tell their story in their own words.
Take Jess Loeb, a lead game developer who has worked in tech for 8 years. During the in-depth interview, she touches on problems of sexism and discrimination, especially in office cultures. Price asked her about building her brand in gaming in the midst of the often negative and scary gaming culture.
“Yeah–even if there’s a carrot there, there’s going to be a stick there. It’s scary and it’s not something that I feel like I should want to do or maybe I should do. But part of where I’m coming from is that as an engineer, nobody can take away the fact that I’m a badass engineer. No matter how many 12-year-olds sit behind their computers and try and tear me down, the fact that I write the code I write and that I’m capable of solving the problems that I’m capable of solving, and the fact that my track record does speak for itself in many ways, even if it sucked getting to that point and I have a hard time internalizing it sometimes.”
Or take Emily Eifler, a VR researcher who has a brain injury caused by gas poisoning. Eifler took a winding path to get to VR Research. She crocheted in a way that reenacted computational systems and then created a video game about interactive environment for her thesis. After graduating and getting a job she started creating YouTube videos. Eifler went to Vidcon and met YouTube video creators Vi Hart, Mike Rugnetta and Malia Moss.
“A few months later I got a call from Vi asking ‘Hey, do you think you could build a VR camera?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah sure, I don’t see why not. That doesn’t seem that hard.’ And I was right, I mean it took months of work and cameras melting and trial and error and math but I did it.”
Now Eifler researches “how immersion works and how aesthetic techniques communicated to viewers.”
These and many more diverse stories are all up at the Techies Project website.