the first 33 portraits

Curious about how the first LNFB photo campaign came to be?

Here is the scoop from the duo behind it all—Rachel Kohut and Vanita Sachdeva.

It was fall 2015. The Feminist Collective of the McGill Faculty of Law hastily called their budget meeting a few days before funding submissions were due for the fall semester. The members of the student club went through a list of possible events to fund and figured out what to keep and what to axe. At the top was the “Law Needs Feminism Because” portraits – it was deemed too passé. But without having even spoken before, we both saw some potential and signed up. Rachel agreed to spearhead the campaign and Vanita offered to help support. We left the meeting with a $250 budget allocation and admittedly didn’t connect again until the spring.

March rolled around and the end of the semester was looming. Rachel and Vanita kicked into high gear and called in favours to pull it all off – friends to take photos (Whitney Lewis Smith), friends to edit the photos (Log Creative Bureau), friends to take photos of (our classmates). But it didn’t end up being as hard as we thought. Turns out people had things to say and jumped at the chance to be part of the project. Before we knew it, we had too many portraits scheduled and a full waitlist. And that was just the beginning.

On April 1, 2016, the photo campaign launched and it garnered over 500 likes on Facebook in under 24 hours. Needless to say, the portraits were a hit and resonated with those even beyond the walls of our own faculty. Every day, our inbox would fill up with students from other schools and organizations asking how they could be involved. We were getting phone calls from law firms and reporters. Apparently, we had turned heads. We quickly realized that Law Needs Feminism Because caught fire because turns out the conversation wasn’t fading as we might have initially thought. People wanted to have this conversation. They just needed a microphone and LNFB provided the stage—but neither of us ever anticipated this conversation would become this loud.

People always laugh when I tell them that I was not Facebook-savvy when I first launched the photo campaign on social media. In fact, I vividly remember asking a classmate during my Common Law Property class how to share the first posts through McGill Law’s social media channels (sorry Professor Anker). Other than the beautifully executed photography and graphic design by my dear friends Whitney Lewis-Smith and Log Creative Bureau, this wasn’t calculated. In my opinion, this behind the scenes story just further illustrates how much organic momentum is behind this initiative.

- Rachel Kohut, LNFB Co-Founder
Turns out the conversation wasn’t as passé as we thought – students were yearning for a venue to talk about their experiences, wanting to show their support, and students looking for mentors.

- Vanita Sachdeva, LNFB Co-Founder