Back in 2017, Nikon’s Asia division launched a campaign to promote its new D850 DSLR, identifying 32 ‘creative individuals’ to test the camera out. The problem? All 32 photographers were men. Nikon quite rightly attracted a storm of protest, before quickly acknowledging that it had not put enough of a focus on supporting women.
Today is International Women’s Day, with women all over the world championing women’s rights. It’s a time to reflect on progress made, to celebrate determination and to call for positive changes. But for female photographers there is still work to be done, as Nikon’s campaign proved.
I’ve been working in the industry for more than 20 years and there have certainly been massive improvements. The Royal Photographic Society’s recent ‘100 heroines’ showcased some of the best female photographers in the UK, although many more were nominated. And they are just the tip of the iceberg, with thousands of talented women out there shooting every day. As a female photographer and writer myself, I champion these women all the way.
But photography is still a male-dominated industry. There seems to still be a misconception that photography is a man’s game, particularly in some genres such as corporate and advertising photography.
Is it old school sexism or just an ingrained belief that women can’t handle all the kit and caboodle needed for shoots? Who knows, but it’s certainly true that the top photographers in most genres are still mainly men.
I know that as a writer specialising in photography, I am one of only a handful and that I still get some surprised reactions when people find out I’m a woman (I’m guessing my name is a bit ambiguous to some folk!). But things are definitely moving in the right direction and I am pleased to report that, on a personal level, I come across far less sexism than I did a decade ago.
Women are still told that they’re being too ambitious, too opinionated, too bossy, too smart for their own good – all attributes that are celebrated in men. It’s time these attributes were celebrated in women too.
If you’re a female photographer, don’t be afraid to speak out and be all these things. I’m hugely opinionated and I see that as a strength in this industry, as it means I am not afraid to speak up and push to get what I want from my work.
So today, let’s celebrate all the brilliant, wonderful, talented female photographers out there and keep pushing for equality across the industry.