What It’s Really Like to Be a Female Photographer

“‘You should try modeling.’ I hear this at least once a day; I am being told to do various things instead of photography.”

What It’s Really Like to Be a Female Photographer

Nikon’s recent choice to promote the new D850 with a pro team of 32 men has started waves of conversation of gender inequality in the arts. During the uproar, I received a few messages requesting for me to share my own experiences that are unique to being a female photographer. Whether we like to ad…

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23 thoughts on What It’s Really Like to Be a Female Photographer

  1. I hate these articles. Well timed, for sure. But it’s beating the dead horse to a pulp. Male photographers are just as shunned in specific genres as well. I promise there are fewer male photographers making Sue Bryce money with a window light a shallow focus. There are immediate hesitations in high end wedding work as well. I can’t tell you the number of times I see that look of regret on potential portrait clients’ faces when they realize that Joey is not short for Joanne. I don’t doubt that this is an issue for women. It’s just not an issue for ONLY women; though your repeated articles like this would suggest so.

  2. I guess it all depends on context but the suggestion of ‘you should be a model’ is not necessarily in itself a denigrating statement. It can also be a compliment and not automatically a dismissal of what you currently do. I’ve received this comment myself – never once have I even considered it was anything other than flattery. But as I’ve already said – context is important and this is just my experience.

  3. Gender gap aside (which is an entirely different conversation) “when I put on my business clothing I get treated more business like” has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with the latest generation thinking that personal appearance should not come into play in the business world.

  4. I think this is also a compliment towards her looks. Maybe some people feel she’s so gorgeous she should be in front of the camera vs behind?
    I’m not saying sexism doesn’t happen at all btw.
    I’ve been blessed enough to never have experienced it as a female photographer.

  5. I find it troubling that the assumption that the sole criterion that lead clients to choose other photographers over her is their genitalia. This is offered with no proof and is, essentially, cognitive distortion. Specifically mind reading, this is the same poor thinking that leads chips on one’s shoulder to become gaping mental wounds, Photography is big industry with its fair share of vapid corners. I would think the high end fashion industry is just as awful for everyone from all angles regardless of task. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_distortion

  6. “In attempts to neutralize peoples reactions to me, I make sure to put together outfits that aren’t too girly when I wake up every day.” I 100% do this. But for me it’s so Uncle Bob’s don’t get chatty/grabby at weddings. I describe my wedding day outfits as “big baby” clothes, because I hide any hint of a womanly curve.

  7. I feel that this article really missed the mark or at least didn’t include other components of what it’s like as a female photographer. There are some benefits to being a female photography, mostly female clients being more comfortable around you. It isn’t necessarily about which sex gets the most work since this is already a very competitive industry, but more as the treatment received as a female photographer. As a young female photographer, I am often viewed as unprofessional. As a photojournalist, I get asked what blog am I shooting for or if I do this as a hobby. As a wedding photographer, I get sexually harassed and assaulted. There have been many instances where I have hired a man as a second shooter but he instead gets treated by others as the main shooter. Even so, female photographers are not as represented in the field in general. Consider bags to hold equipment. Most brands design their bags/backpacks for the male body. Anything labeled “women’s” is practically a purse. After reading this article, I was like “that’s it?”

  8. Um… she does come from modelling, I’m surprised as to why she’d try to hide this fact in the article o_O

    Until just 2016 her webpage used to say:
    “I am a Native American model from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. I studied fine art at the Portland State University and also spent some time behind the camera as a photographer at a portrait studio. My interest in modeling stemmed from my background in dancing ballet. I am fascinated by the human body and its ability to tell a story without speaking a single word.”

  9. Doesn’t have to do with photography. It more has to do with people in our society feeling free to comment on woman’s choice of professions and suggest what they might be better at.

    When have you ever seen somebody walk up to a male doing his job and suggest that he do another job?

  10. I have to say I lack sympathy as an amateur looking into going pro in my small city due to a back injury. There is only one pro male portrait photographer that I know of, and dozens of women. I’ve done a number of portrait shoots for people I know, but nothing beyond that because it’s all women in this city. The other pro men I know of all do realestate or product shoots.

  11. I agree and relate to all the comments about “loosing work to women photographers” and it being seen (at least here in Utah) as mostly a “woman’s job as a pro”. If I were a woman photographer with a pink or plaid camera strap I would being doing a lot better here I am sure. 😉 All that AND I am chubby! So I am sure if I was trim and fit I would get more business as well… that and a woman. Silly article lol

  12. Hmmmmm…..

    Woman have a hard time being recognized in any male dominated market, it’s a given. Just look at the IT world, it’s a running gag that the biggest money waster in a datacenter are the female toilets. I personally always try to treat woman and man equally, and the comments from my coworkers sometimes worry me. I do seriously recognize that there is a problem.

    That she gets the “you should be a model” thing thrown in her face allot, I have spoken to plenty of Americans… and their blunt approach to empty small talk is astronomical. But even outside the USA I have seen plenty of people downgrading both man and women in all kinds of fields to a position that they think he/she is suitable for. Not wondering for a second why that person is doing what he/she is doing right now. I personally shrug off these comments into the category of “you don’t know what you are talking about”.

    But… Looking at Gabrielle, I’m so puzzled. Her LinkedIn page is, how to put it nicely… desolate. Twitter… abandoned and her portfolio… nonexistent. If she currently has a hard time being taken serious at her job, then that that does not sound surprising to me. As far I know the photography world is cut throat, oversaturated and the customers overconfident.

  13. Toni Heinen offensive huh? Read the entire thing. It’s funny that he told her she would have such a hard time being a woman in our industry, cuz he knows how he’s treated several women.

  14. I mean I’ve seen both genders slay photography I personally feel like women get more opportunities with Photo but unfortunately ya they probably get hit on a lot but idk

  15. The like if these articles has some points that can be understood in many different ways… you mentioned this “you should try modeling” should not be understood the you understood it every single time…

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