Miriam McBride (they/them) is a Black non-binary photographer based out of Tacoma, Washington. Miriam is dedicated to capturing the unique connections between people and places. They use photography as a tool to archive and promote storytelling and community organizing. Miriam organizes with a local group, Black and Indigenous Organizing, that is led by young artists who create space for healing intergenerational connections and access to healing. Miriam is passionate about community folks having space to lean in and create together in autonomous ways. Although they have many visions for the future, they take the most joy in capturing those moments of the future in creation.
Tell us about your journey in your own words and what's connected it all together for you. What inspired your passion for your work?
My experience of moving a lot as a kid and being able to get rooted to a community has led me to capture the unique connections of people and places through photography. Always being the new kid, I would watch people a lot, to the point that the world around me always felt like an ongoing movie. I would always wish I could just blink my eyes and capture that exact moment.
When I moved to Tacoma in high school, I was blessed to be brought into the community through Fab-5,The [Intel Computer] Clubhouse, and YBMW (Young Business Men & Women). I got to meet and see so many passionate people do amazing things surrounding the community. I began to crave capturing these almost historic-feeling moments and people because I was aware of how rarely we hear their stories. It’s these stories and moments that inspire me to continue to do this passion-led work.
How do you continue to do the work that you're doing? What barriers have you faced/overcome?
I am a very spiritual, and spiritually-led person so it is hard for me to do something that doesn’t feel like it’s contributing to a bigger purpose. My biggest barrier has been continuously figuring out how I can do passion-led work and remain rooted in the community while doing it.
As I continue to go down the unconventional path of being a freelance photographer and an independent contractor for community and housing-based projects, my spirit guides encourage and affirm me the entire way and redirect me when it best serves me.
I have a predetermined purpose in this world and that is to love what I do and to build connections through stories.
It's my right to be able to walk in my purpose. Other barriers I’ve overcome have been: learning how to run a business, networking, and creating content using limited equipment. All of these things have been possible due to my community encouraging and lifting me up.
What do you wish people understood about the Tacoma community on a deeper level?
Folks here truly have such a deep love for community and seeing each other win. There’s, like, a domino effect that happens when folks get to witness each other in their passions, and when they have space for limitless creation. We are consistently sparking greatness in each other.
There is so much talent and love here, especially when you show up with respect and listening ears. I believe leaders and outsiders could learn a lot if they followed the lead of people who are part of this community. There are so many visions for the future that just need continued support and incubation. We have everything we need to succeed and innovate the spaces around us as long as we get multiple seats at the tables.
Where do you find inspiration in your community?
There is so much creativity in this city. Folks are really going hard for their dreams and aligning with folks who are on that same note with them. There is so much power-building that is happening as folks are leaning into collaboration. Seeing people go after their dreams with so much determination inspires me to tell the stories I feel called to tell.
The Kiki Ballroom community, which is a space for Black and Brown Gay and Trans folks, has also inspired me to accept my birthright of using my creativity as a means of representation and survival. They have validated my voice and presence, which validates the unique perspective I bring as someone who is still part of the Tacoma community.