With more than 80 countries represented, Schmitz and Yoon organized the photographers by time zone, pairing Americans with Latin Americans, and Europeans with Africans.
“We really wanted it to be as diverse as possible,” Schmitz said. The sense of connectivity across borders is especially important during a period of extreme isolation. Yoon and Schmitz have never even met, they note, but have been able to organize everything virtually, even in two different time zones: Yoon lives in Philadelphia; Schmitz in Berlin. “It’s a great gift to have Hannah in my life now,” Schmitz said.
The Journal also helps to ensure that the voices of marginalized photographers are not lost during the crisis. The pandemic has already laid bare the existing inequalities in healthcare and social safety nets; in photography, members worry that the recent progress they’ve made to include more voices in visual media could start sliding backwards as jobs dry up due to sharp cuts in media budgets.
“Some people won’t be able to keep freelancing after this, which is really unfortunate,” Yoon said. “And I can see women, women of color, trans, and non-binary photographers falling into that category more [easily] than men.”
Another goal of The Journal is to widen the visual archive of how the virus has affected the world. While news images reporting on COVID-19 stories are important—Yoon herself has been shooting them on assignment—the organizers emphasize that a broader range of images are needed, too. Beyond illness and anxiety, there’s also affection, tenderness, private rituals, and creativity.