In a recent post of mine, I griped in a post script about the profusion of mediocre white American dudes on YouTube in nearly every topic. I added that you can find great stuff out there from non-white, non-American, non-dude channels, but you usually have to dig for it. One of the ways I do that on YouTube is to check the channels tab for any given channel if I like their videos, because they frequently include other channels to which they subscribe. This has been an important discovery vector for me and is how I’ve encountered a number of channels to which I have subscribed over the past year.
Case in point is YouTuber Ava Silvery, or Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah according to her website. She is a working visual artist (mostly photographer) whose videos have a beautiful and quiet documentary style. Her photography is varied and excellent, and she’s been on YouTube for about two years. But I was only subscriber #637! And the video at the top of this post has fewer than 200 views as of this publication. Perhaps Adu-Sanyah isn’t looking to build a huge YouTube following, or doesn’t want to deal with the maintenance, anxiety, and abuse (especially for women of color) that often comes hand-in-hand with more notoriety. But it’s criminal to me that we can get thousands of views for perhaps the 50th white guy “reviewing” a classic camera while something original never even bubbles up in my YouTube recommendations.
And why is that? Why did I have to proactively seek out channels like Ava Silvery? I show my kids one video about some pet otters and I get loads of recommendations for pet otter videos. But I follow quite a few photography channels, watch at least a dozen photography videos a week, and I have to search for great stuff like the video above?
I’m pretty bad about consistently posting on this website, but I do want to try highlighting some more great photography stuff that I find on YouTube from people who don’t necessarily look like me or come from the US. If the art I consume is coming from a fairly homogenous group of people, I can only expand my understanding of photography and its impact but so far.
Oh, and while this post is mostly about YouTube and the Ava Silvery channel, don’t sleep on Abu-Sanyah’s website. She has loads of her work up there along with some thoughtful writing on her family and projects.