The Politics Behind the Lens

PhD candidate Teresa Kroeger’s research lens illuminates her perspective as a professional photographer.

June 23, 2022

Photo self-portrait by Teresa Kroeger
Self-portrait of Teresa Kroeger with her photography press passes.
Photo of Vice President Joe Biden and actress Olivia Wilde by Teresa Kroeger
Then-Vice President Joe Biden and actress/filmmaker Olivia Wilde prepare to speak at the 2016 World Food Program USA’s Annual McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Photo of Rep. John Lewis by Teresa Kroeger
Rep. John Lewis at the 2016 Washington, D.C., premiere of “Race” at The Newseum. This image graces the cover of “John Lewis: American Politician and Civil Rights Icon,” which is part of the Breakout Biographies series for middle school readers.
Photo of the Women's March, Washington, D.C., January 21, 2017, by Teresa Kroeger
Participants in the Women’s March flood the streets of Washington, D.C., on January 21, 2017. This image appears on the cover of “Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope — Voices from the Women’s March,” a pictorial retrospective of protest signs from the 2017 Women’s March.

Photos by Teresa Kroeger

Teresa Kroeger is a photographer in Washington, D.C. She’s also a PhD candidate researching labor economics. She says her policy background has made her a better photojournalist.

Kroeger, who has been a professional photographer for over a decade, has captured images of multiple U.S. presidents, first ladies and members of Congress. She says her lens as a researcher can help bring to light fresh perspectives on some of the world’s most photographed subjects.

“A photograph can tell a story and influence policy,” she says. “And how a story is told is shaped by who tells it. My social policy work provides me with a unique vision for creating photographs that are used to tell news stories around the world.”

The focus of Kroeger’s dissertation is occupational segregation, something she is familiar with from her work as a photographer. Both photography and politics are male-dominated fields, and as a female photojournalist, Kroeger says she experiences different challenges and opportunities compared to those of some of her male colleagues.

“I have firsthand experience with the issues I write about. As a freelance photographer, I don’t have the same protections against gender bias, discrimination and harassment that I would as an employee. Equal pay is especially difficult to fight for as an independent contractor, as is the case for millions of women and others who lack worker power.”