I haven’t written a blog post in a very long time. And maybe it’s not the best time because I’m mad. But this is a topic that (still) needs addressing and not shaming or brushing aside.
I think my head might actually implode today. For the love of effing everything. I know articles that are titled “Top Landscape Photographers” are a regular occurrence in the world of photography and social media. What’s wrong with them you might wonder, that sounds like a wonderful list. It sure does. But let me tell you, I have a few reasons. Sure the writers can tend to aim them toward photographers with a gazillion followers so they get more follows themselves, I get it. You want to drive more traffic to your page so you can also become more popular and have higher engagement on your website. Buuuut I'm especially agitated about the topic of gender at the moment and want to get to the bottom of it (because that will surely happen while I drink wine and eat brownie batter! How very female). Almost every time one of these “best photographer” lists is published, it contains all or a significant majority of male photographers. I’m not joking.
Are there seriously only 4 women landscape photographers on the whole planet? Is that why it's soooo hard to ever get talented women representation in any top landscape list that isn't directed at women specifically? If so, that would make so much more sense to me. But I seriously doubt this is the case.
You may still be wondering why this is an issue to me and why I’ve described myself as “mad” above. If the art is the best, shouldn’t it be represented in an acticle about the best? The answer to that question is YES IT SHOULD. Thank you for bringing it up. Ones photographs should be able to be viewed and admired without a gender attached to it. Period. And it is just not the case. Not in landscape. Those lists are accolade after accolade to (generally speaking) the same photographers.
In the wake of issues like the Nikon 32 ambassadors list coming out this week, these types of articles are just more subliminal messages to men and women alike that women are not worth mentioning. That there is something about women that doesn’t make our photography worth talking about or considering. That we are not actually equal to men in our talent. That we are not worthy of ambassador status. I know a LOT of women landscape photographers and there is not one of them who wants to be known as better because they are a woman. Or just better then anyone else for that matter. We want our work to speak for itself and have the same opportunities as men photographers which we are not currently allotted.
Several photographers, both female and male champions, have spoken out about the Nikon list. Great, right? Yes, but what is shocking are they types of responses that I’ve seen. People saying things like “we have bigger problems in the world” to defending Nikon because it was geared to another market (that apparently doesn’t have women in it?!) to “just get over it and move on" and "that all the camera companies have the same(ish) proportions of male/female ambassadors." THAT is actually the problem!
This week Susan Stripling wrote a letter about her experiences as a (wedding) photographer and how her gender has played a role in what she does. Well her experiences are not uncommon, I’m afraid. And I don’t think it matters what type of photography or even profession one is in. I personally thought her letter was spot on and I could relate to some of her experiences quite well, as could many women photographers. But as I read through the commentary on her letter I was appalled. I was and am still shocked at the amount of hatred voiced at her experiences and how many people (male and female) said things like "stop whining" and "she’s over reacting." One man even said he was going to unfollow f-stoppers for publishing that letter. Soooo where do we think the problem is?!? And note to self, stop reading peoples comments on social media.
It just brings up such a deep rooted societal issue that’s hard to wrap my head around in one post. But I have another example to share that I feel horrible about, but says a lot (I think) about how we are groomed in society.
Not long ago I started looking for some new inspiration in photography and purchased some online courses. One of them was from CreativeLive and was a family photojournalist photographer, Kirsten Lewis. Before I purchased the course, I watched the free segment to see if it would be interesting to me. My comment to Nick after I watched the 15 or so minute video was that she was full of herself and she annoyed me but I liked what she was talking about so I bought it. After watching a couple of the segments, there were maybe 35 or so, I decided I actually liked her. Then after watching the whole thing I decided that I really really liked her and everything she talked about struck a cord with me. And it dawned on me like a smack to the face that I didn’t like her at the beginning because she talked about her work in a positive way. She talked about how good she is. She was confident in herself and in what she does. If she had been a man saying the same words, I would have never thought anything of it. It was because she was a woman that I put her in the ‘obnoxious’ bucket. I’m horrified at myself for having these thoughts and for admitting them out loud. But it got me thinking about social influences during a time when all these little situations have popped up.
As women, we need to support each other and break these crazy social influences. We are the ones who can rise up together and all the haters can eff right off. That goes for both genders. I seriously believe that the more we support each other, the more people will realize there is an issue. Talking about gender equality isn't whiny, complainy or attention seeking, it's about balancing the scales.
My point is, it's not about the endless lists. Or about the ambassador selections. Or about gear companies tailoring things to men. It's about all those things put together that make this a huge issue. It's engrained and not thinking about it seems just as bad as saying something negative about a gender.
Here is a list of over 200 (!) women landscape photographers who are incredibly talented and have wonderful work. I’m on a mission to actually find out how many women landscape photographers are out there. I know it’s waaaaaay more than 200. Wish me luck! If you know anyone not on this list, tell me please!
We need to Joan of Arc this shit! But not in a burned at the stake kind of way. Just in a fierce let’s make a difference kind of way.