History Of The Exposure Group African American Photographers Association
In 1978, at the urging of Roland Freeman, several photographers came together to form POSITIVE IMAGE, an organization that would be open to all persons interested in photography no matter what their level of expertise. Along with Freeman was Milton Williams, Roy Lewis, Pam Nixon, Sharon Farmer, Harlee Little, Edgar Thompson, Gene Young, Winnie Day, Julia Jones, Marvin Jones, and art gallery owner, Vernard Gray. They met at Gray’s Miya Gallery on 11th Street NW and at the home of Harlee Little and various locations until about 1983. During that time period, POSITIVE IMAGE hosted exhibitions, book signings, workshops, and lectures.
Then the organization fell dormant from about 1983 to 1986 at which time a new effort was established under the name of THE EXPOSURE GROUP which focused on working photographers and photographic education. This group was lead by Harlee Little, Marvin Jones, Edgar Thompson, Sharon Farmer, Julia Jones, and Welton Doby. They would be joined by dozens of other photographers who met once-a-month at Harlee’s studio on Randolph Pl. NE. up until about 1994.
Once again, interest and participation waned and meetings were discontinued until Jason Miccolo Johnson reformed THE EXPOSURE GROUP on March 10, 1996 at the Howard University Undergraduate Library with 55 persons in attendance. On January 15, 1997, the association was incorporated by Jason Miccolo Johnson, Jim Johnson, and Marvin Jones in the District of Columbia under the official name THE EXPOSURE GROUP African American Photographers Association, Inc.
The first elected officers were Jason Miccolo Johnson, president; Jim Johnson, vice president; Bonita Bing, treasurer; and George Tolbert, IV, secretary. The group has met monthly at police stations, libraries, schools, photography studios, and The Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives since 1996. THE EXPOSURE GROUP currently meets at DCTV at Brooks Mansion, except during July and August.
The EXPOSURE GROUP African American Photographers Association’s mission statement says that it is "a participatory member-driven professional photographers association dedicated towards improving the skills, professionalism, and productivity of its members through information, education, and demonstration. THE EXPOSURE GROUP covers every aspect of the photography profession from how to get started in business to how to prepare for retirement and what to do with one’s collection. In essence, THE EXPOSURE GROUP is committed to its members gaining knowledge and increasing their compensation in the photography business."
In 1997, the first Award Ceremony was held honoring retired Ebony and Jet photographer Maurice Sorrell with the Lifetime Achievement Award – later named after him. In 1998, the association added two other award categories and renamed them in 2015– Nestor L. Hernandez Jr Community Service Award and Ellsworth J. Davis Photographer of the Year Award. In 2001, the association added three more award categories – The Gordon Parks Legend Award, The John H. Johnson Friend of Photography Award, and The Exposure Group National Corporate Award. The association also maintains a hotline number, a web site, and a job referral arrangement.