Are you cringing yet? Here, how about this: According to Nikon president, Mr. Kazuo Ushida, Nikon is considering some new and playful innovations to their product line, including “…making a dSLR that women would find easier to use.” He’s not even trying to hide that comment behind a vague notion of developing a product that may be more ergonomically suited for women’s hands. It’s straight up he thinks cameras are too complicated for our poor, little minds to figure out. (And in case you think it’s some sort of off-hand comment that was captured in a private setting, that quote is from a newspaper interview).
The above quote was found while researching an article that Nikon recently selected 32 new Ambassadors for a prestigious photo tour to market their new camera. World-renowned photographers were invited on a promotional trip to test-drive their newest camera. Can you guess how many of these ambassadors are women? I’m going to give you a hint: it’s lower than what you’re thinking. There are none. Zero. Nikon could not find a single female photographer to showcase their new camera. James Vinson sums it up nicely in his article with “…you basically have to go out of your way to not include a single woman.” In a response to photographer Rebecca Douglas’ letter to Nikon, the UK territory (not Nikon Asia, the territory that developed the marketing strategy), it was noted that 4 female photographers had been invited but none were able to commit. Ok, that’s fair: people do have busy lives.
But, hold up, let’s ponder that invitee number of 4. If 20% of professional photographers are women, then why were only 4 invited?! Shouldn’t there have at least been 6 and, if none of the invitees could commit, perhaps it’s necessary that a bit more effort be dedicated to showing that a) yes, women are successful photographers and b) you don’t piss off half of a population so they switch brand allegiance! It can’t possibly be that difficult to find (less than) 10 women worthy of carrying the Nikon brand, can it? (Oh, look at that: an entire website dedicated to women that is called Women Photographer. It was on the first page of a Google search for “women photographers”.)
This is not the first time I’ve discussed women in the photography and videography industry (see an earlier post here). Delving into numbers a bit further, in the adventure and sports photography world, that 20% shrinks significantly. Red Bull recognizes that of all their photographers, only 3 are women. (I didn’t count all the photographers because the list is huge but there appears to be over 70 people.)
Why does it even matter who’s taking the photos and, more specifically, how does it involve encouraging women outdoors? Because we need women at the table, designing shoots, and choosing to photograph women who are actually completing incredible feats instead of simply choosing a model that looks great straddling a bike. Our male counterparts are making more money in competitions and in endorsements and, trust me, they are not all stellar to look at. The physical appearance of our male colleagues is rarely brought into consideration of whether or not they are capable of completing and earning that accomplishment and subsequent accolades.
We need to show our girls that photography and videography are valid fields. We need to showcase the women that are changing the story of what and who women in sport are. Women are not uni-dimensional objects: we do not simply exist to adorn the Swimsuit Edition of Sports Illustrated. We can be female and an athlete and a great partner and a parent and a boss. Is it possible for men to show this story? Of course it is! But we need to hear from women as well. We need to showcase positive female role models and photography is an incredibly powerful medium. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?
And you, dear reader, should be sharing your photographs as well. (Add #activewomencanada and I’ll re-post to the Facebook page and you’ll get that nifty photo spot to the right). So I’m here to present you with a list of female adventure photographers that we should all like on Instagram and take the time to ogle their portfolios!
National Geographic released a list of 9 women photographers to watch (click here for full list). On that list are 3 Canadians (links to individual sites): Jill Heinerth, Jody MacDonald, and Angela Percival.
For the aspiring change-maker photographers out there, Outdoor Journal did a two-part, interview series of 6 influential, women adventure photographers (there’s a couple repeats from the National Geographic list):
- Part 1: https://www.outdoorjournal.com/focus-2/insights-female-adventure-photographers-part-1/
- Part 2: https://www.outdoorjournal.com/focus-2/female-adventure-photographers-risking-their-lives-for-the-shot-part-2/
I dare you to at least skim through their photos: how can you not be inspired to get outside!
That’s what photography/photojournalism can do: influence and inspire.
Do you have a favourite female adventure photographer that should be noted? Share their name (and link to their website/portfolio) below.