Proud Moment

Photographer Behind Viral Photo Of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Beaming Daughter Reveals What It Means To Her

In an essay for TODAY, the photographer said she wanted to ‘provide representation and take photos that show the historic moment from my perspective as a Black woman.’

Judge Ketanji Brown Jacksons daughter Leila Jackson, right, and husband Dr. Patrick Jackson, left, l...
The Washington Post/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Over the past week, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has gone through an extensive and grueling Supreme Court confirmation hearing. One of the most talked about aspects of Jackson’s hearings, aside from the blatant sexism and racism thrown at her, is the now-viral photo of Jackson’s teenage daughter Leila beaming at her mother as she testifies.

The photographer behind the iconic image, New York Times photography fellow Sarahbeth Maney, has since opened up about the image and what it means to her as a Black woman.

The photo, similar to the one above, can be viewed on Maney’s Twitter and in a New York Times article highlighting the historical snap.

“When I take photos, I try to capture what I feel and not just what I see. I look for the small, intimate moments during the hearings to give readers a sense of what it feels like being in that room,” Maney explained in an essay for TODAY.

“As I was scanning the hearing room, my gaze fell on Judge Jackson’s daughter Leila, and I was touched by how proud she looked while looking at her mom. I felt the admiration that she held for her mother but also the pride she experienced as a young Black woman. Her look also reveals a glimmer of hope for her own future. I understood this and snapped the photo, feeling as if I caught the power of that look.”

Maney told People that when she first saw the proud mother daughter moment, she knew it was the time to snap. "It gave me chills when I saw this look that her daughter gave her.”

When people started posting the photo to socials without crediting Maney, a coworker suggested she post it from her own accounts.

“I had just got done with the long workday and I got a text from a Times reporter who was like, 'Hey, you need to tweet this photo out yourself because other people are like tweeting it and not crediting you,' " Maney said.

"And I was kind of on the fence about whether to tweet it or not because it had already gained so much attention. But I just did it anyway. And then that tweet kept going on and on from there. So I'm really glad I decided to do it."

Ultimately, Maney hopes that not only the image itself, but the fact that it was taken by a Black photographer, inspires “other Black girls to turn their own lens onto the world.”

“There are not enough Black women in photojournalism and I hope to forge a path for more to join our industry. When you’re the only one it feels difficult and I’ve experienced that — but I hope it will be different for those who come after me.”