When I first heard from Daniel that he was going to start this discussion I was THRILLED! I often feel like a broken record bringing up women photographers for shoots. Often ones that aren’t quite right for the story, but whom I’d really love to give a chance. I KNOW this is true for a lot of photo editors out there. At the end of the day, the right person for a job is the one that gets hired. There are a lot of reasons someone gets hired- great consistent work, a good attitude, reputation for getting stuff done well and on time, budget, etc. Gender is rarely a consideration. And when it is, it is because we WANT to hire a woman specifically.Read More
I have some scattered photographer friends who are mostly female and within this small group I feel fiercely loyal and supportive of them but I wouldn’t say it’s the same feeling of community that these guys feel. I have also reached out to female photographers I admired in LA and have not heard back at all or just been given the cold shoulder. Point being, we shouldn’t just accept that girls can be competitive, insecure and jealous. We should change it from the ground up because if we support each other and look out for each other then maybe more of us will get hired and more of us will take the scary leap into freelance photography.Read More
Most art buyers and photo editors are female; they’re doing the hiring. Why this is, I don’t know, nor will I speculate. It is insulting to start mentioning things like “they couldn’t be photographers themselves so they became editors.” I went to London in March to meet with art buyers and met two males (practically the only ones in Europe!) who joked about having a protest to get more male art buyers into the profession. Yet females in the workplace don’t often get along. There are a lot of subtle power struggles, subconscious jealousy, and sometimes females just plain don’t like each other. A lot of this begins in junior high. Anyone who has survived junior high can attest to this. There are a few “female photographer” photo groups out there, but is there any female group that in any way compares to the supergroup of the good-looking editorial guys in their 20s and 30s who shoot everything? (You know who I’m talking about.) No. We don’t band together in the same way. And that’s fine. It’s just worth noting. In a way, I can understand why female photo editors are hiring men—there’s that playfulness in your interactions which you can pull off with someone of the opposite sex. It’s human nature. I have way more guy friends than female friends. Most of my photo assistants on big jobs are men. Why am I not hiring women either? It’s a good question. Does any of this mean I don’t get a sting when my all the cute local guy photographers 8 years younger than me are now shooting for the publications I shot for a few months ago? Or when I see the list of photographers in an issue and it’s literally all dudes? Of course not. All of these issues should be aired out and made plain, and hiring decisions should of course ultimately come from the work. But it’s naive to think that there isn’t a social dynamic that is a huge factor.Read More
It’s no secret that there are basically mostly female photo editors and male photographers. In some ways, it’s nice to see so many women in a position to commission photographers, but to be honest, there isn’t a lot of commissioning female photographers. My saying this isn’t girl on girl hate, it’s just a fact. I couldn’t tell you why, but for some reason, it seems like photo editors are either pressured to or feel more comfortable hiring men. Repeatedly. Over and over. The same men. Men who are often wonderful photographers, but in no way more qualified or “better” than a sea of equally (if not sometimes more) talented women.Read More
And yes, I find that most photo editors are females which is exactly why I find it even more upsetting that males are dominating the editorial world. If photo editors feel that using female photographers would shift their aesthetic, because we don’t have that male viewpoint, then they should let their aesthetic change a bit in order to include women.Read More
So if we can determine that it doesn’t matter what people in the hiring position think, what do we do about the fact that there is a very real imbalance between male and female photographers getting jobs in the commercial world?
My friend Pete and I were discussing the topic on a recent hike. We decided to grab as many magazines in his house as we could find, and count how many assigned shoots were done by men and how many were done by women. We tried to pick a cross section of magazines and who they were written for such as: people that love the outdoors, men’s fashion, women’s fashion, travel, etc. We counted the shoots from 5 magazines.
The following ratios reflect how many shoots were awarded to men vs. women:
6:2, 9:1, 8:0, 11:3, 10:1
I went home and counted more:
12:0, 4:4, 8:1, 12:4, 5:4, 10:4Read More
As one who has assisted many shoots, I have experienced this high tension atmosphere and have only felt threatened in lieu of a lack of experience with this specific environment. This world is filled with many awful people in positions of privilege that for whatever reason become the subject of a story that requires visual content. That being said, I don’t believe that being a woman has anything to do with how I assert myself in that environment. I think it’s hard to any one to tame the arrogant, the uncomfortable, and the alpha - working with people takes practice and dedication. Or at least enough passion about what you are hired to depict to gracefully navigate people of all temperaments.Read More
I can say personally that my sexuality has come into play plenty a lot, whether it was being pigeonholed as a photographer who can only photograph gay related material, or that I wasn’t appropriate for a job because of my sexuality. It is something that I have been fighting with for years. I’d say this is the norm, but there has been scenarios where a real intelligent dialogue has happened, such as when I photographed Fred Phelps and how aware TIME was of what it meant to have a gay photographer in that situation.Read More
I had such an intense and complicated reaction to reading this, and I’m not really sure where to start or where it will end up. My method for dealing with sexism is based on denial and dismissal. I enjoy discussing gender, sexuality, and discrimination but in a clinical and emotionally distant manner. During the few times I have been extremely mistreated or felt physically unsafe due to my gender it has been almost a relief to feel that it was warranted for me to call it out and react.
I feel that I have made it a mission to ignore much of the sexism I experience with the hope that this negates its existence. I think many women like me exist in the same way. I am strong, I am educated, I have some valued role models, and a decent amount of privilege (college, white, upper? middle class). There is a certain part of me that feels that I have no right to complain, especially when addressing small or more ubiquitous acts of sexism. Just writing this makes me feel whiny and self-righteous. My reaction has been to try really hard to prove myself, in all of my environments. I try to counter expectations put upon me as a woman, to the extreme of making myself at times seem insular, unapproachable and aggressive.Read More
I would scour magazines to find the latest and most interesting work. I would rip out the pages from Vibe,Paper, and i-D with the work of Melanie Mcdaniel, Elaine Constantine, Dana Lixenberg, Cleo Sullivan, Anna Palma and Corinne Day. They inspired me. I loved their work. I loved their perspective. It made me think in a different way, and I learned from it. I would read The New York Times and be inspired by Brenda Ann Keneally. I printed at Printspace next to Baerbel Schmidt, Justine Kurland, Imke Lass, Sylvia Otte, Gillian Laub, Elinor Carlucci, Tracey Baran and an assortment of guys whose careers took shape much differently than mine.
When I arrived in New York City in 1995, I began assisting many photographers, including Jill Greenberg, Tria Giovan, Anna Palma and Ellen Silverman,
none of who had assisted and all of whom had their careers going. I
also worked for a bunch of male photographers. It was much harder to be a
female assistant. I would work for fashion photographers as a second
assistant and literally feel invisible on the set because the other
women were skinny models who were sixteen years old. When I would pick
up from the equipment rooms at any of the big studios, I was routinely
treated like a “girl who couldn’t possibly know anything.” The men
running the equipment rooms were bullies who hated their jobs and took
it out on assistants who were not part of the cool club. Pier 59 anyone?
Another noteworthy point was the mention of the high capacity of female photography students. The majority of my class, and the year to follow, were females.. most, if not all of them, are not pursuing photography as a career. Why could this be? And does it have any effect on the females that do decide to pursue photography on a more professionally based level?Read More
I studied Film Production in college and since then I’ve been trying to make the transition from video editing to photography. I’ve completely felt the impact of sexism- from all ends. From being told “you are good assistant editor, but women tend to be more nurturing to clients rather than to the actual editing”- to being turned down for on set jobs because they were afraid I couldn’t handle the job “physically.” Even in film school, crewing up, both guys and girls would tend to ask the girls to produce, set deign, and edit - but when it came to DPing or gaffing, almost always they asked a guy. An older female student said to me, “women tend to be more organized than the guys, they make good producers. It’s compliment.” So while our industry is mainly me, this is impacted by everyone.Read More
On female photographers not fitting the aesthetic of certain publications:
I don’t buy a blanket statement that an entire gender does not fit the aesthetic of a magazine. It’s fair enough to claim that an individual photographer or certain style of photography doesn’t fit a magazine’s aesthetic. Not everyone is going to like everyone’s work. Not everyone should. A good photographer makes a choice at some point in their career – perhaps at several points in their career – to make a certain type of work. We have to choose a direction. It’s very possible that feminine energy naturally lends itself in one direction and male energy in another.
On the management of stress, time, and shooting high profile people/situations:
Um, none of these things have ever been a problem for me. I’ve photographed actors, athletes, musicians, billionaires, politicians, world-renowned scientists, writers, chefs, artists, and countless others. I do the 10-hour shoot. I do the 10-minute shoot. I do whatever needs to be done. Like all photographers, I have found myself in some stressful circumstances over the course of my career. I always handle myself appropriately and get the job done to the best of my ability – not my ability as a woman, but my ability as a capable, experienced professional photographer. One’s ability to work well under stressful conditions is not a matter of gender, it’s a matter of personality. I’m borderline insulted that this topic even came up.Read More
My initial reaction to hurt or injustice is often humor. Thus I’ve been mulling over starting a blog called “Lady Bros” in response to all of the bro-ness that permeates the photo community that women are seemingly very excluded from.. ie. the surfing, biking, gear-jerking-off business that floods Instagram accounts and Tumblrs. I often joke that I’m never going to make it in this industry because I don’t do an extreme sport. Theoretical posts composed in my head for Lady-Bros include i-phone shots of my new pink camera bag, my unicorn-print yoga mat, foto-tampons specially designed to fit perfectly and discretely in said pink camera bag (shhh don’t let your clients know!). Lady-bro things.Read More
I feel like newspaper/photojournalism world talks about the advantages to being a female photographer (ie: more gentle touch for sensitive subjects, can cover women-sensitive issues, less assuming than male photographers sometimes…) but that conversation never seems to carry over into the magazine world, at least from my limited experience there. Yes, sometimes women have a different approach to dealing with stressful and tense situations, but that doesn’t mean they are any less effective in dealing with them.Read More
However, I know I could shoot some killer editorials and I hope someone realizes that. In a traveling/outdoors perspective, I know I’m on par with a lot of dudes, if not more so. I hitchhike, I sleep in ditches, I meet strangers. I spent my summer living off the grid working on a farm, building greenhouses, doing landscaping work. I can chop wood and gut a fish. And I can take a crisp photo with some sweet composition. Maybe all these things don’t amount to a good editorial photographer. But I can also keep a schedule and stay ~*~*chilllll*~*~ under pressure. Or maybe my style of dream editorial photography jobs are a very small niche that are being filled by PRO DUDES (not sarcasm, I think these are wonderful people) like Peter Sutherland, Corey Arnold, etc. I don’t know! I try not to brood over this really. What I do focus on is SUPPORTING MY LADIES! And pointing out girl on girl hate when I see it and doing my best to prevent it.Read More