Gender Inequality in the Photography Industry – Is that even a thing?

Landscape Photography can be a bit of a boy’s club, even though it`s the most popular branch of photography. But why is there such an inequality?
Miri Roth

Miri Roth

Swiss Landscape Photographer

”Women are afraid in the dark and will not stay out long enough to capture sunsets”

A lack of representation

Landscape photography has always been one of the most, if not the most popular branch of photography. So maybe it comes as somewhat of a surprise to you to find that there are so few female landscape photographers, or certainly few ‘recognized’ female landscape photographers.

But does it really matter, if an image taken is produced by a man or a woman? Yes and no.
More women than men are represented at entry level in the creative arts, but if you go further down the line and try to find women or non-binary people in competitions, magazines, or as brand ambassadors, there are remarkably more men represented. And I mean REMARKABLY.
And if a female is represented, it feels like a proforma gesture. Because when a woman gets a brand ambassadorship, she will hear phrases like: Oh, she just got it because she is a woman. / The brand just needed some female representation for PR.
I heard some of those myself, when I got Haida Filter Ambassador. God forbid I would have got the place because I do good work.

Equal opportunities

And that is also why I want to make clear I do not support or want special treatments for women or a “we do only hire females” mentality, this is part of the problem and why well-earned prices and awards are talked down.

I am committed to equal opportunities and equal treatment based on your abilities, and not your gender or sexuality.

And if anyone now says, “Gender already has probably nothing to do with it, the only thing that is important is the quality of the work.” Please ask yourself, why you are bringing that up. Ask yourself why you need to formulate a counterargument to begin with. Because what you are really saying is that in a field that has a lot of really good, really skilled women, which occupy such a small fraction of leadership roles, I am just going to assume, that it’s simply because men are better. And because I am open minded and don`t see gender, I am going to look past the highly suspicious statistics and state that quality of work being important thing is kind of the point.

An unfair advantage

Because if quality of work was the only criteria, you would find the ambassador and educator roles reflect more demographic in the industry. The disproportionate statistics are because they give male photographers an advantage and overlook their female counterparts.

If you want to read more facts and figures about the lack of women representation as brand ambassadors, read the article of Kate on fstoppers:

The hard to read comment section is full with men who did reinforce exactly what she indicted with their accusations.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m inspired by a huge number of photographers and a lot of them are men.
I have had fantastic support from them and have witnessed knowledge sharing, camaraderie and call a lot of them friends. I view inspiring images on a daily basis and I never question whether they are taken by a woman or a man BUT l have struggled to find a photographer that l can relate to.

But why is that so?

Even when I’m out photographing, I only meet men, so to speak. Especially in autumn, the Engadin is full of landscape photographers and at the popular locations you literally almost stand on each other’s feet. But 99% of the time I’m the only woman at the spot.

When I talk to people about this topic, I hear many reasons given as to why there are so few women pursuing a career in landscape photography – and some of them are just outright stupid. “The equipment is too heavy for women” – ”Women are afraid in the dark and will not stay out long enough to capture sunsets” – “Women are just more interested in capturing weddings and newborns”.

"The equipment is too heavy for women”

The most realistic one I have heard is, that it is difficult to balance landscape photography with childcare. Going out for long periods of time to get the perfect light and perfect shot and travelling away from home can be incompatible with family life. These are undeniable real-life barriers but do you know how many fathers of young children I meet on Location? Women have a significant contribution to make to this genre and we are limiting our role if we let these barriers hold us back. Because men do neither.

 

What else?

But a big reason that can’t be ignored is the lack of reputation. when I started landscape photography, I thought that there just weren’t any female landscape photographers, that landscape photography was a male branch. And if my love of landscape photography hadn’t hooked me so hard, that would have put me off.

“Women are just more interested in capturing weddings and newborns”

What I see for the future

We have to change that; we have to show women that there are female landscape photographers who are role models and many opportunities for non-male photographers to make a name for themselves in the world of photography.

Get involved, let big brands know that more diversity is needed. It’s never been easier to use social media as your voice to tell companies what they can do better.

It is 2021, and it`s time for a change.

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