Photography, Up for Discussion

Up for Discussion – Men and Women in Photography

When I was writing posts for that other blog I had wanted to do a post on this subject, but at the time they thought it might not work with what they were doing.  I have been thinking about it for a while and decided that I might do it for one of these posts, open it up for discussion.  This is not a discussion about whether men or women are better photographers, I think we have proven time and time again that gender has nothing to do with it, I am more interested in biggerLeanneCole-kyneton-20131002-8501 picture and how the world perceives Women photographers and Men Photographers.

They have been saying for a very long time it is a mans world, and I thought things had changed, but I keep hearing how women still aren’t paid the same, that women still get treated sctw-9177differently.  I don’t know how true it is, I have always gone through life thinking I can do anything if I really want to, well almost anything.  Of course I can’t be the Queen of England, I will never be a famous movie star, and I will never fly to the moon, they are just not something that is possible.  Instead I concentrate on realistic goals, those for me are being the best photographer I can be and making my blog a great place for people to visit.  I don’t think being a woman stops me from that.

Recently I heard that there are more women doing photography than men, especially new people coming into photography.  Yet, when you look at the world of professional photography it is still very much dominated by men. Part of the thinking behind this post came when I was going through Nikon’s website, as you do and I found a page of Photographers, Professional Insights, and they list a whole heap of photographers, but out of the 20 listed, only 2 of them are women.  I was shocked.  I thought if there are more women doing photography now, then why do Nikon only represent it like it is 10%? Of course, that could just be Nikon and maybe that is how they think about the world.

Then I saw this from Canon and their ambassadors, see if you can spot the women in the big picture.

It seems that there is a perception that men do all the really cool stuff, you know like Landscape photography, architecture, while the women do all the portraits, babies and weddings.  You really don’t scladybath-9282hear of men photographing babies, unless it is their own.  So while I think there is a place for women in photography, have we been pigeon holed as only able to do certain things?

My questions today are more about perceptions.  When you think of Women Photography what sort of photography comes to mind?  Why do you think Professional Organisations still have more men represented than women?  Tell me your gender and what sort of photography you like doing?  Do you find it a struggle to achieve what you want?

These posts are a great way to share knowledge, so please contribute.

I will approve them, as long as they are nice and not nasty in any way.

Feel free to respond or reply to other comments.  It would be good to generate some discussion.


  1. I have seen data that shows more women purchasing cameras then men. One can conjecture a lot of reasons for this and for big brands focusing more on “male professionals” than the amateurs that buy their cameras to sell their goods. Reality will catch up.

    • I have heard the same sort of thing Victor, I hope reality does catch up. Thanks for your thoughts.

      • What Victor said was the first thing to come to my mind as well. Now, we must confess that a decent portion of camera purchases are indeed woman buying one to take photos of their child or grandchild—my mother is a prime example of this, she bought an iPad for the same reason!—but even so, the number of women buying equipment for professional use is undeniably growing, much larger than it has been in the past. The camera companies will, eventually, figure this out (one hopes).

        I also think that so far as fame, women are just not as…hm, how to say this…I guess perhaps we’re not as good at self-promotion? Some women are, but not all. And so far as that goes, vive la difference! (Better than sulking over it.)

      • But there are also a lot of men doing the same thing, a lot of men aren’t buying cameras so they can become professionals. I see them in my classes, they want to take photos for the same reasons as the women, a lot of the time. I get more women in my classes saying they want to become professional photographers, than I do men. I do hope the camera companies catch up, it is a sad reflection of who they think their customers are.
        You are very right there, we are crap at self promotion, it is something I really need to more of this myself, and learn how. Thank you Jen.

  2. Interesting, Leanne, you know it’s not really something I have pondered. And over the years I have been impressed by the work of female photographers such as Fay Godwin (marvellous black and white landscapes), Jane Bown (wonderful portraits, predominantly monochrome)…. But I think you are correct in saying there are fewer females at the pinnacle of their profession. If men had babies, it would surely be different….

    • I don’t know what the reason is, I am sure that women are capable of taking great images, so it makes me wonder why they are represented in the same way as men. Do camera companies market their gear more to men. Maybe I should ask, or we all should. Thanks Sue.

      • Had a conversation about camera clubs (mostly men talking about cameras) and photographic clubs, where thankfully it’s about the image…. And yes, the gear is more aimed at men, I would suggest…

      • Camera clubs are a whole other thing aren’t they Sue, maybe I should do a up for discussion on them. Though I haven’t been a member of one for many years.

      • Well, I’m happy to say I’m now a member of a great photographic club!

      • That’s fantastic Sue, the one I was in was horrible, to competitive and to much focus on competitions. They liked to put the newbies down too, as I found out, and then I left.

      • Newbies are welcomed and encouraged, we get good speakers, and OK, we do have competitions but have an external judge… All most interesting. :)

      • It is good when that sort of environment happens, the one I was in was like that, but they didn’t like newbies doing better images than them. I won a contest once and all I heard was people complaining about how I shouldn’t have won, it was heartbreaking.

      • I think they do. Every photo magazine and website has ads showing men showing off the latest bags, tripods, lenses, strobes, background systems, reflectors and other gadgets in a stereotypica rugged outdoorsy guy kind of way. Even when the men are shown photographing cherry blossoms in spring. I actually seen this.

        Where are the ladies? Do the merchandizers know or care that they exist?

      • I know, where are they, we know they are buying the stuff. Maybe if they marketed to women as well they would sell more stuff too, or women would buy more. Though can you imagine how they would market to women? It would be all soft, pastel colours and teddy bears, makes me sick.

  3. My questions today are more about perceptions.  When you think of Women Photography what sort of photography comes to mind?  Why do you think Professional Organisations still have more men represented than women?  Tell me your gender and what sort of photography you like doing?  Do you find it a struggle to achieve what you want?

    Those are hard questions to answer. I take photos of babies for a living. When researching competition in Oklahoma, I saw that the majority of my competitors were female and they typically Shot weddings and children (infant and older). There also appears to be a perception, mostly among men, that photographing children is feminine. I don’t buy it. I don’t think of a particular genre when considering men and women in photography. Only genres I’d never be involved in (I can’t stand doing sports photography, but have seen plenty male and female sports photogs. So, when I think of women, I think all genres that can be captured, from sports to boudoir.

    I think more men are represented more in professional organizations for a couple of reasons: they seek it to bolster their shooting cred and they’re still boys clubs. I think women may not feel it necessary, and if that’s true, I could agree. It might be great for networking, but what else does it serve the capable and entrepreneurial photographer?

    I’m male and enjoy all sorts of photography: still Life, architecture, land/waterscapes, children, couples, street/urban exploration, macro/detail. And I do find it a struggle to achieve what I want.

    • Wow, I don’t think I have met a male photographer photographing babies before, is that my bias coming out. I think you are right about the feminine thing and children’s photography.
      I wonder if men are more represented in those places because these organisations are still largely run by men. I think women want the recognition as well, but it is how do they get it.
      It is a struggle for many of us, but it seems for women if you want to be a landscape photographer or a architectural photographer, then it is a lot harder. Thanks Sahm for thoughts and experiences.

      • Thank you for creating the discussion. With the wage gap issues and boys clubs and this archaic mentality of continued male domination in the world, it’s something that, at the very least, needs to be contemplated and spoken about.

      • I think so too, whether or not it makes a difference will be seen, but the more we talk about it, the more notice it will get.

      • One of my old colleagues and friends turned to photographing babies when he had his first son, and started doing that for a strong side business ( if you’re curious, he’s quite good.) That isn’t all he shoots, but he’s not a full time photographer. On the other hand, I’m happy that my recommendation of the Fuji X20 sat well with an acquaintance, Nina, who was in the market for something stronger than a cheap point-and-shoot and seems to have a real knack for composition despite having very little experience, and my other friends Miria and Sarah who, upon discovering the bokeh available with a nice cheap 50mm prime, started photographing a lot more often, with some wonderful results. Pro side, I know little. Amateur side, I know a lot of women who come to the show with heavy metal – either Nikon or Canon. We don’t talk about our equipment though, we’re there to shoot, to laugh, and to get whatever the job is done.

      • I think that is it, there are so many women shooting these days, and the numbers keep growing, but it doesn’t seem photography sites are up with it all really, where are the women on them. Thanks for you thoughts and experience.

    • In New Zealand any male with a camera had better keep well clear of children unless they’re provably his own or he has impeccable letters of commission signed by at least two judges, a pastor, the Pope and the local police chief …

  4. I hadnt really thought about it so thanks for an interesting article and when I think of women photographers I think of Annie Leibovitz and Anne Geddes being the famous ones – portraiture, albeit fantastic! I myself love landscapes and find freedom in that and personally prefer that to people, weddings etc and yes I could write down paragraphs of male photographers that I admire but could only think of two females. Sad but true!

    • I have to admit I hadn’t thought about it until I saw that Nikon page, and wondered why women were so under represented. I am the same as you, I like people, but I don’t enjoy doing the “portrait” style of photography, I never liked photos of people smiling into the camera. I enjoy more artistic styles of photography, which is also about getting out there too. Thank you for you thought here.

  5. Oddly enough I automatically think of war photography, I think woman often see the humanitarian side a lot better in order to bring home the ruins of war. In fashion photography with the super-models I automatically think of male photographers. I cannot claim to know why, but that is my gut reaction.

    One would have thought that the image should be sufficient, not the form of the individual behind the lens. Having said that anyone needs to be able to work well with others to get on and succeed.

    I do think the ambassadors page shows a shocking lack of women. For me I put up an image of an eye of an old bearded indian man as my avatar and wondered what effect it might have – I am not worried about it as if people are put off by it then those aren’t the people that I want to interact with.

    Be interesting to see the views of others.


    • You think of women photographers as war photographers? I’m a bit confused there MM. Fashion photographers always seem to be men, not always but more so.
      I would have thought the same, but there does seem to be a perception that women don’t do landscape, or they can’t do it on the same scale as men. It is very disappointing when you see those ambassador pages. Since, as someone else pointed out, more women are buying cameras now than men, does this mean that camera companies think only men or mostly men can be serious photographers.
      Thanks MM, it is going to be interesting, I was a bit worried about doing this post.

      • Sorry if I was not clear. I do to think of women photographers as war photographers, but
        I think this is an area where I think that women photographers can do a particularly good job and excel. They often see the more humanitarian side better.

        For me the more worrying thing is the number of women seen as ambassadors, not what people may think they are best at shooting.

        Hope I have been a bit clearer this time.


      • I was a bit confused because all the war photographers I have ever seen have been men, I didn’t think women would be allowed to go to the frontline to take photos. I think women can be like that.
        I agree MM, I think it is poor judgement for these companies to not include more women, surely there are many women out there who doing exceptional work in photography.
        Yes, you have, thank you.

      • As for women not doing landscape, while sometimes you drive right up to a “nice” view, I do think that a truly exceptional landscape photographer has to be prepared to hike into the wilderness for a couple of days, perhaps camping on a hilltop to get the Golden Hour, all the while not only carrying tent, food, clothes etc but several kilos of camera gear ! I’m sure females are equally capable artistically and technically, but from my bushwalking days I know they are less likely to be physically capable or even wanting to do this.
        I guess nature/wildlife might also be a similar situation ? sure you can get wildlife in your local park, but to get that ultimate, career making photo might need more physical exertion, more roughing it, even more danger perhaps than many females would desire.
        So they are drawn to less arduous genres, portraits, babies, whatever… and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that I hasten to add !

      • I think that is one aspect Mike, but I don’t think that is necessary in Australia, we don’t have that kind of wilderness, and I also think it depends on the type of landscape photography you want to capture. I am really starting to like doing landscape photography, but there the type I want to do, is not like that. I will hike if I have to, but I wouldn’t go camping to get it, I don’t think I need too.
        Thanks for your thoughts Mike.

  6. In my opinion when it comes to photography, it really is the picture that counts and it doesn’t matter who took it. I see great photography from both sexes and I don’t see any particular bias towards different types of pictures. After all, there is nothing to stop any of us taking the pictures we want to and as long as the pictures are good, they will get noticed, published and used.

    • I hope that is so true, it would be nice if it were the case, of course I haven’t looked into it in great detail, I was just disappointed with the ambassadors and most are men, I am sure there are more than 10% of women photographers out there taking photos, and as you said, good photos. thanks Chillbrook for your thoughts.

  7. What a great topic. I think of photography as an expression of one’s self. You shoot what interests you, and process in a way that you find pleasing. It’s no wonder, then, that more young women are drawn to shoot babies and weddings…I’ve noticed the increase in the last couple of years.

    DSLRs have made it possible for more people than ever to pursue photography as a serious hobby or even profession. It seems the technology is a bit ahead of the general public’s learning curve. I think eventually we’ll see more woman in the field.

    • I am glad you like it Sharon. I think it is that exactly, shoot what you like and then process as you like. I think women are drawn into that sort of photography because sometimes they feel they don’t have a choice. I have felt at times if I want to make money that is the direction I should go in. I find it so hard to not do those sorts of things and make money, I am slowly carving out a way, but it has been hard.
      I think digital photography has made it a lot more accessible, and more and more people are doing it, which introduces all new problem, :) I hope so, it would be nice to see women being more represented. Thank you for your thoughts.

  8. My name is Allyson, and I’m a woman who focuses on architectural and landscape photography. My blog is if anyone is interested. I’ve just really started this journey in becoming a professional photographer, and I’ve definitely noticed a more male focus in the areas of photography that I enjoy. I wish that it weren’t because in trying to get better and build my portfolio with the kind of images I enjoy taking, I’ve definitely felt pressure from people I know wanting me to focus on weddings and newborns. Since I am trying to make a career out of this, I don’t want to write off those things as work I’d like to do, but I would definitely prefer to be out taking images of nature and architecture.

    • I am the same Allyson, I love architectural photography and am doing more landscape photography as well. That is so true, landscape and architectural photography is dominated by men, unfortunately. I have felt the same pressures. I completely understand and think exactly the same. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

  9. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says

    Every one of these images have an ethereal quality about them. I never saw your photos have that quality about them. You are full of surprises! :D

    • Thank you Jackie, these are older images, I did them last year some time, but definitely some things I want to get back into doing. :)

  10. Definitely a thought-provoking discussion! As a male photographer, I find I thrive at the idea of landscape photography, but chafe at the idea of wedding photography. I think at least some of the dichotomy between men and women in the photography field might just be different interests. It very well could be that more women prefer to do weddings and portraits, whereas more men gravitate towards landscapes and architecture. Though that is just conjecture on my part.

    • You see Jonathon, I find exactly the same, don’t want to do wedding photography, unless I can do a very specific type of photos. I don’t know that it is, or whether we are lead to believe it is so. I want to do landscape and architectural photography and I don’t really want to do babies, actually I know I don’t, so where does that leave me. I think it is a perception that is put out there by magazines and websites, and companies like Nikon and Canon, but I don’t think it is really the case. There are many women out there who want to do the tough stuff. Thanks for you thoughts here, it was really interesting.

      • Thank you for responding! That is great that you want to do that line of photography. I so get you. I don’t really understand why people like doing weddings, to be honest. And I think that is certainly possible that there is a false perception being portrayed, though I just think it could be a mix of both because I’ve know a lot of female photographers who didn’t want to do anything but babies and weddings. Though I definitely do think people should be able to pursue any kind of photography they want and am sad that some feel like they can’t ’cause of gender.

      • Thank you too, I don’t understand the whole wedding thing, too stressful, too confining. I think it is a mix as well, if people looked at it really. I feel the same way, it should be all about the image and nothing more. Thanks again Jonathon.

    • Interesting thought. Perhaps women have a more instinctive rapport (people skills?) and so blend in (merge? Meld?) better at weddings and suchlike. Natural talent in the field, perhaps.

      Possibly men are naturally loners, more comfortable alone in the woods with just Father Nature himself and the camera?

      • Yeah, that’s kind of what I was thinking. I’ve noticed that trend a lot, though of course it isn’t all-encompassing.

  11. I remember someone (don’t recall who or where) saying I’d build up my muscles hauling around my Canon 5D III because it is a big heavy camera. Really now? And women photographers get critiqued harder than men I’ve noticed. Women photographers are/can be as good or better than men but as you have stated, you’d never notice it on some sites.

    • I know just what you mean, as if a woman couldn’t use it almost. I agree, women can be just as good, and it is sad that it isn’t recognised. Thank you for your thoughts.

  12. I sure hope you do not mind a novice’s view in regards to this question because I would very much like to place my thoughts here. My wife and I both love photography. Together we have been photographing flowers, nature, pets, plants, landscapes, portraits and architecture, purely from a novice viewpoint.

    My wife takes better shots than I do (in my opinion), as a Macro artist…she embraces more time to clear the shot as well as working in her software.

    Myself, my way of thinking, I like to grab shots that require affirmative action and split second timing….other wise, I miss my opportunity.

    I have since pursuing photography in regards to establishing myself, seen many, many great women photographers. Erin Trieb is a favorite photo-journalist friend of mine and she has gone to great traveling distances and to great heights to capture a story.

    But many others in the blogosphere…my opinion, women photographers are extremely valuable to our next generation of photographers. Men I think will always be there, but we need the art of subtle beauty from what the eyes of the heart perceives and I think women capture all too well beautiful landscapes, nature, floral and fauna, people, architecture, city-scapes, seascapes, etc…

    There is no right or wrong answer here, photography just is what it is, a passion many of us desire to share in many different ways. With having to keep up with all the technological stuff, we are all lucky we are still trying.

    I just had to sound off and I could go on and on but Leanne Cole, I really like your material. Everyone who has connected with me has been a winner in my book.

    Thanks for allowing me to sputter like a fool but this is how I sense the whole photographic questions.

    • Not at all John. I think there is absolutely no doubt that women photographers are as good as men, it is just a shame that companies like Nikon and Canon don’t agree.
      Thank you so much for thoughts here, I think you have made some great points. Thank you to for what you said about my work, I appreciate that.

      • No worries Leanne! Large companies are only after their own best interests. It is a shame. You are always welcome. This is just how I see it all…through the lens of equality.

      • It is a shame, as the message they are sending to women is that while they might have more of the market, the big companies don’t take them seriously. I do hope that changes. Yes, we will.

    • My own Spouse is an artist, specialises in nature (great leaves, flowers, foxes …) and (dammit) is a very much better snapper of macro than I. Me. Whatever: in the beginning I showed her, then she got her own camera and scorched away with it like a homesick comet. I’m waaaaay back in her dust.


      a) I’m very very proud

      b) dammit, envious too

      c) feeling no challenge whatsoever to my masculine pride/self-worth

      d) still share any ideas I have where I know she can do better

      e) and shamelessly use hers

      The photo’s the thing …

      • Absolutely, couldn’t agree with you more….happy you embrace the photography thing. Have fun and stay creative.

  13. As with any profession, women have been shunted I to the background. Perceptions need to change – amongst photographers themselves, those buying or commissioning the photos, and those who sell the equipment. Time will show, however, that women can be as creative as men – and that their experiences will lead to a different type of photograph.

    • I totally agree Colline, it is hard to imagine that women have been fighting for over 100 years for equality and it still isn’t there. That the perception of the world is that women aren’t good at the hard stuff. They do need to change. I think so too, women can be just as creative, not doubt about that. Thank you so much Colline, lovely to hear from you.

  14. I must admit that the majority of photographers that I know are women. I have one friend that focuses solely on family portraiture. I guess it is about finding what genre suits you the best however I do think that women (and mother’s in particular) have a special gift for knowing just how to get the best from a baby shoot.
    I agree with the fact that there are probably more women buying cameras than men because they tend to be the family record keepers.
    I don’t think there is really any answer to this question. It’s an interesting one though.

    • I think what you are saying just goes to show how wrong companies like Nikon and Canon are, they are not representing their market fairly. It is so hard for women to become known as architectural and landscape photographers, I find. I showed the websites to my husband and he said straight away, you need to be a man to be a good, fantastic photographer, that is the image they are portraying, it is so sad, especially when you say you know more women photographers. I do hope they catch up with their market. Thank you Suz, interesting thoughts.

  15. Very interesting to ponder, good discussion. At times like this I think ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. Being a great female or male photographer is within our reach if we choose to go there. I don’t care about ‘greatness’, I just want to do what I do well, and enjoy it.

    • It is interesting, and I don’t know that I want to be one of those ambassadors, but it does make you wonder if these companies think that men and women are the same in the world of photography. I know my experiences with contacting them has been a bit hit and miss, though it could have nothing to do with me being a woman. I find it so hard to get recognition from outside this blog. Thank you so much.

  16. lensaddiction says

    Hey Leanne another great post for discussion :) I posted something similar about a year ago after reading an interesting post by a male landscape photographer

    I shot a wedding over the weekend and only because it was for a close friend who knew my work and asked me to do it for them. It was EXHAUSTING and really hard work and quite stressful. Not my idea of a good time, and children are even worse. I much prefer nature and landscapes. Even tho there can be some drama and effort involved, when you are out in a beautiful countryside in fresh air, alone with your camera its so peaceful.

    I have a theory that because using a camera properly is quite technical and involves some complicated concepts that a lot of women are put off learning to properly use a DSLR. It has been commented that more women are buying cameras than before but I would dispute that, I think more women are using their phones as cameras than ever before.

    Do it myself to take kitten and food photos to text or email to friends :)

    • I haven’t read your post properly, but will later on, you make some great points.
      I find weddings stressful too and kids, well kids can be very hard work, especially if they are not in the mood. I prefer architecture and am turning more and more to landscape photography as well.
      I don’t know that that is true about them being quite technical, I find in my classes I get so many more women wanting to learn how to use their DSLR’s than men, and many men don’t take their cameras off auto either. Apparently more women are being DSLR’s than men, I haven’t seen any figures, but if my classes are any indication, then it would be true. I think young girls use their phones as cameras more, although I do think the people who used to buy compact cameras are now just using their phones.
      Haha, I take photos of my cat with my phone all the time, upload them to facebook, he even has his won facebook page, Tiddles Cole. Thanks you for you thoughts on this subject, it has been interesting hearing what other think, I will go back and reread your post now.

  17. Hi Leanne.

    Corporations tend to be conservative (read that as resistant to change). No surpirse about Nikon and Canon, really. To me, there is no difference at the ameteur level, but I suspect professional photgraphy can be much more difficult for a woman, if you are trying to succeed with corporations.

    I also suspect there are deeper issues involved, including old boys’ clubs and at the basic level role playing that is cultural.

    I know the folowing will seem contentious. I thought about deleting this next bit after I wrote it.

    We are instinctive animals, like all others. Though we pretend we ihave no instincts, we do. What role had nature assigned to men, to women in the dim, far past? It takes awareness, honesty and resaoned intelligence to overcome that. It takes two (both men and women).

    If we were to watch a study on a tribe of baboons and the roles that males and females play, it is not vastly different. This has been studied, written about, again and again.

    There was an very informal study that showed younger, successful women tended to resent men holding the door for them, because they felt it was an act of belittlement, but equivalent level men didn’t, as they saw it as a simple coutesy. The study was based on responses the (male) door holders received, nothing more.

    Weird stuff, our gender differences. We should embrace our similarities and differences, but we don’t always. (We often do on a personal level, however.)

    We have to ask ourselves, are women TRULY equal in any cuture? I’d say most likely not. Some few women rise to the top, but is not the many.

    All of this has nothing to do with photography, it is bigger, more deeply rooted than that. It’s like we are speaking of symptoms, when there is a unackowledged disease lurking.

    Now I’m going to go hide and change my name. :)

    • I think they can be too Robert, or still controlled by men too much and haven’t figured out that it isn’t a good image when just as many women are buying cameras these days. I find it hard to be taken seriously that is for sure.
      The old boys club, and that mens network, for sure.
      I agree we should embrace the differences, acknowledge them, and do the same with the similarities.
      I also agree, women are not really equal, and you see it time and time again, those that do rise to the top, are not treated the same as men who do. I just think of our first and only female prime minister, she copped a lot of flack because she was a women, just on what she was wearing, judged because she wasn’t married or had children, it was atrocious. I think looking at who Nikon and Canon are their top photographers, the same can be said.
      I don’t you have anything to be ashamed of here, you have made some very valid points, and what you have said, whether I like it or not, is the reality of the situation, it is unfortunate, but very true. Thank you Robert.

      • For me, I think of how Hillary Clinton has been treated, and we all know she is a very driven, totally competent, rational and intelligent person. They (TV news) had a fit the night she seen kicking back and having a few beers.

        Yes Leanne, you have to battle on two fronts, gender inequaity and the sheer numbers of pro photographers. Weirdly, the place I usually go walking is often used by pros for scenic backdrops and I see as many women as men bringing their clients there.

      • Oh yes, I forgot about Hillary Clinton, fantastic women and I think could be great, it is a shame she gets criticised for the things that her male counterparts aren’t.
        I think that is so true, it is a battle, I just try to ignore it really, and just get on with what I want to do, which I have decided is teaching, so far most of my clients are women, and I’m okay with that. I did think it would be a good discussion for this though, and seems I was right. Thanks again.

  18. I cannot speak for other women but I photograph whatever catches my eye – I love architecture, engineering etc and also people shots – interestingly friends who do not see photography as an art form but merely a way of recording themselves think I need to ‘learn more and practise’. One has said that if I do then I could be her daughter’s wedding photographer. Of course, my idea of wedding photography differs from hers but neither of us is wrong or right. Another friend is a serious photographer but her pictures are ones I would not choose to take – babies feet, strictly composed portraits et al. All of us, however, are making historical images. It is an area which, like all others, has been dominated by the male of the species – it is up to women to forge their path in the field and which we see them doing on sites such as WordPress.

    • I think there are so many women out there taking photos, and so many are doing a lot more than just people, weddings and babies, and it is a shame that companies like Nikon and Canon don’t seem to acknowledge them. I am sure that at a professional level there are many many more women working in photography than what their ambassadors would show. Surely there are more than 10% women working and contributing to the field of photography? I think women are forging their way, but how do we get past these notions and views that are created by these companies?
      Thank you Chris, more great points as well.

      • Perhaps women photographers should create something like Magnum – not for exclusivity but to go forward together as an international agency that promotes our work?

      • Haha, I wouldn’t even know where to begin, but I am going to start putting my work out there a lot more, enter some landscape competitions.

  19. I’m a woman (shocker I know) and I enjoy mostly landscape and close up photography. I think men are perceived as more “technical”. I worked in a male dominated field and would get the rolling of eyes as I approached a site of customers who were men. I can only chalk this up to a stigma and a cultural thing that takes generations to bleed out much like racism in this country, especially toward African-Americans…which is STILL working it’s way out. More women need to own companies and frankly to become leads of states and countries for this to become more accepted and engrained in people’s minds that women CAN do anything. As for does it affect me in achieving what I want….I haven’t gotten that far. I’m in my own little Wacky Macky world, lol.

    • So many great points Laura, and I think you are right on quite a few points. Women are perceived as not being technical, which I think is also wrong. We can understand the logistics of things and work out how to do things. There is a stigma and cultural thing as well. It is so hard for women to be taken seriously, I was just talking about how the press used to report on our first and only female Prime Minister, it wasn’t good. Makes you wonder how long we have to keep trying to prove ourselves. I find it tough in the world of photography, I don’t know if it is because I am a woman, or if it is because it is very competitive, but judging from what Nikon and Canon show, it seems the former is definitely a problem. Thanks Laura.

    • lensaddiction says

      Hey Laura, I work in IT am often the only woman in a presentation or conference so I know what you mean about men and more technical concepts.

      If you have a look at photography books published, both How To and just examples of work, nearly all of them are written by men. Are women not that ambitious or are they just not taken seriously enough by publishers?

      Winning competitions does seem a way of getting your name out there and I am not really that confident my work is good enough to enter. I should just do it and see what happens really, I guess thats a guy attitude :)

      • Can I get in here too, I used to find the same thing, though not IT, but in a previous life, I worked in very male dominated areas and it was like I couldn’t be technical, like just because I am female I operate machinery or such.
        I think women are, but maybe we just aren’t pushing ourselves enough. I’ve been thinking about writing a book, have lots of notes for it, maybe I should just do it and see what happens. It would be a book on how to take photos, perhaps I should write it for women.
        I need to do that too, enter competitions, perhaps we can encourage one another. Yes, the guy thing.

      • haha, I LOVE that last line. It made me laugh. True that I haven’t seen one woman publish a “how to” book on photography. Hmm…there should be one. I just hope it isn’t some “photography in heels” concept! :)

      • me either! I’m half laughing…I don’t like it when women think they need to sex things up to get attention in an area where they are competing with men in a serious arena. Nothing wrong with interjecting our femaleness, after all we are different, but I can see someone trying to do something like that to get attention. *looks for heels in closet that have dust*

      • Or no heels at all, I don’t have any. Always hated heels, felt funny walking in them. I am so unfemale, haha, I don’t wear make up, rarely do I do my hair other to brush it. I hate nail polish, heels, skirts and dresses. I don’t dress like a man, but I dress for me. Haha, I am the same, they feel the need to make every thing pretty. I don’t like pretty, never have, so isn’t me.

      • Well I do the warpaint but not a lot. You’ve seen my face in Facebook, so that’s just me (with makeup ha). I don’t mind dresses if they are long and for a reason (like once a year lol). I’m mostly in jeans and tennies and jeans and sandals. I like pretty but I’m honestly not frilly. I don’t do ruffles, don’t paint my fingernails but yes on the toenails sometimes. lol

      • I don’t do frilly, don’t like it and makes me feel very uncomfortable. I am a boots and jeans kinda person. Like my Doc Martens. Haha. Actually you have described yourself pretty much how I pictured you, which is really nice.

      • lensaddiction says

        I do have one book published by a british woman which is a tips and tricks book and really valuable except I loaned it to someone and have forgotten the name and author :(

        I was lucky enough to meet Tom Ang in person and he was a really really smart cookie, and Trey Ratcliff is also a very nice and extremely smart guy and both were welcoming and supportive of women shooters. I first met Trey in person when he and his family were having a holiday in NZ, and his wife had a big fancy Nikon too :)

      • Oh yes, Trey! I haven’t met him but he has done some walkabouts in SF. I learned HDR from his Stuck in Customs. :)

      • lensaddiction says

        He and his family moved to NZ a few years ago so I have been lucky enough to meet him in person a couple of times.

      • I saw that! Lucky dog you! I keep up with his whereabouts on the newsletter from Stuck in Customs. He seems like a nice guy. Before he was on google circles, I chatted back and forth in FB a few times when I first started investigating HDR (not that I do very much) about 3 years ago I think?

      • lensaddiction says

        Yes it was her, still cant figure out who I loaned it to, but good enuf I should get another copy

      • I haven’t read Heather since the glory days of film—I feel motivated to look her up and see her latests. (Thanks for that~!)

      • lensaddiction says

        No problem, and the good news is I found my copy, was in the boot of my car, underneath all my wet weather gear, yay :)

      • I wish I hadn’t looked her up on Amazon. I have the feeling a budget blow-out is imminent … glad you found your stuff~! :-)

      • lensaddiction says

        Try Book Depository, they ship freight free :)

  20. Beth Johnson says

    No doubt you are correct about the prejudice. It can be a cruel world; however, assuming an alias is always an option. :-) Keep up the good work and ignore the jerks.

  21. I think photography is still a boys club and get a room full of photographers it doesn’t take long before they start talking about who has the biggest lens :) But I believe after working in the photography industry since 1996 that women photographers are looked at no differently to there male counterparts as far as skill and ability its just the numbers that are different and like many areas it will take time to shore them up….

    • Oh yes, men are often about that sort of thing, though I have found myself doing the same, haha. I think the same, women can take photos just as well as men can, that is for sure. I wonder if the numbers are different, or if there is something else happening. It is an interesting thing, I don’t dwell on it, but I do think it is interesting. Thank you Kara.

  22. There are lots of fabulous women professional photographers. There are a few war correspondents as well. I do not see the gap as it all depends on opportunities and being able to do the work. What does happen, is that lots of women buy cameras to take photos of their children and then start a business. Most do weddings/portraits/babies etc. I have never seen work and thought it was made by a particular gender.

    • I don’t either I tend to look at work and say, hey I like that. I don’t care who made it. There are women who are trying to break out of that idea that women do mostly portraits, and they are saying they find it hard. I find it hard, I really don’t want to do portraits, but trying to fit in elsewhere just isn’t working for me, well not much. I think what I am worried about is the perception and the image that Nikon and Canon are offering, that they think serious professional photographers are men, or mostly, and I am sure that isn’t true. Thanks for your thoughts here.

  23. My WordPress handle tells you two things: i am male and use Fuji. Personally, in regards to the female photographers i have come across, i find them to be more “artsy” then male photographers. Again, this is just my experience. Honestly, i am not an artsy person, never have been. But that is not because i am male. Reading through some of the comments, fashion magazines came to mind – don’t ask why. I looked up a list of all the current editor in chiefs of Vogue magazine. There are 22 from all over the world. They are all women:
    Anna Wintour (US)
    Alexandra Shulman (British)
    Emmanuelle Alt (Paris)
    Yolanda Sacristán (España)
    Daniela Falcão (Brazil)
    Franca Sozzani (Italia)
    Anna Dello Russo (Japan)
    Angelica Cheung (China)
    Victoria Davydova (Россия)
    Edwina McCann (Australia)
    Christiane Arp (Deutschland)
    Myung Hee Lee (Korea)
    Priya Tanna (India)
    Seda Domaniç (Türkiye)
    Vlatko Bescu (Hellas)
    Mitsuko Watanabe (Nippon)
    Rosalie Huang (Taiwan)
    Kelly Talamas (Mexico & Latin America)
    Karin Swerink (Nederland)
    Paula Mateus (Portugal)
    Masha Tsukanova (Україна)
    Kullawit Laosuksri (Thailand)

    What is primarily in Vogue? Photos. Who takes most of these photos? I would hazard a guess and say men. It begs the question: at what level does the “boys club” go? Is it a valid arguement?

    Here is how i see it. A female fashion model will most likely respond to a male photographer a lot better. If we have all of Vogue’s Editor in Chiefs being female, i am not sure we can use the “boys club” argument to it’s full effect.

    In addition, i generally think that males get into fashion photography far more then women, for obvious reasons. I believe male photographers a far more interested in taking a photo of a sexy, female, hot fashion model then a female photographer is. This is very true when you go to photo forums. All the sexy, female, glitzy fashion photos are coming from guys and they are not even full time pros.

    I think the above further deflates the “old boys club” theory a bit further. It’s just a matter of males not wanting to photograph certain subjects, just as females don’t want to photograph certain subjects.

    Anyhow, it’s just some personal thoughts. I like to shoot pretty much everything. Jack of all trades, pro at none. Probably not the best way to go in photography.

    • There are no doubts there are exceptions, but my main concern is the perception and what companies like Nikon and Canon are giving to the world. The fashion industry is one industry, but what about landscape photography, or architectural photography, I am sure there are a lot more women out there doing it, but aren’t getting the recognition. I just think that Nikon and Canon should make more of an effort to show that women are photographers too. You could get the impression from looking at their sites that it is a male dominated area and that a couple of women do it, now we know that isn’t true. It is disappointing.
      Thanks for your personal thoughts, it is interesting hearing what people think,

      • Not sure there is a clear cut answer. In the world of Fuji, all the Fuji ambassadors are male as well, some of them have come from a Fuji forum i frequent. On that forum, there are not to many females. With any forum i have been on, there are far more males then females. On the flip side, most of the likes i get on my blog, are from females. So, i really don’t know what to make of it. I know for a fact that there are world class female photographers out there. Why does’t Nikon or Canon or Sony or Fuji pick any of them up? I have no clue. Though, if you look here: there is a good sample of women. Even Canon has quite a few. But of course, the men out weigh the women in regards to numbers. Do i dare say that photography has been more of a mans hobby/profession a lot longer and that may be why? Only a guess.

      • Perhaps it is up to the women in photography to say, hey this isn’t fair, you need to change this. I know women stay away from forums, I do, I often find them argumentative and not very good. If you have a different opinion then you can end up getting into a fight, and it can be bad. I think women find WordPress friendlier, if that makes any sense. I know what you mean, what is wrong with these companies. Do they realise that they being sexist? I looked at that site, and it isn’t good, if more than 50% of their market is women customers, then shouldn’t that be reflected in their ambassadors as well.
        Say it, I don’t mind, and perhaps you are right, perhaps it has been a man’s world for far too long and it is continuing. Thanks again.

  24. This is a wonderfully thought-provoking topic, Leanne. I think that what we see in photography right now is a microcosm of the larger inequality between genders that is still prevalent to this day. Progressive discussions such as these definitely help in bridging the gap, but I believe it will take a couple of generations at least before old prejudices can finally be put to rest.

    Personally, I have been contracted to shoot pictures of babies and families, and I find that being a man does nothing to make things easier or harder for me. I would agree that majority of photography groups are pretty much boys clubs with cameras; but from my experience the gender bias works the other way as well, since where there might be a perception that men tend to be more ‘technical’ this could very well translate into ‘not creative’.

    I can only hope that camera companies would do more for women photographers than just put out the token smaller camera that comes in different colors.

    • That is so true, I was shocked to hear recently that women still aren’t being paid the same as men, even though they do the same job. It is going to take a long time I think. The women’s movement started over 100 years ago and they are still fighting for equality, so think it will be a long time coming yet.
      That is interesting to note, and I could see that, the gender bias. Yes, I think that could be very true, which is so weird when you think about the world of art and how many successful artists are men, so they must be creative as well, silly really.
      I hope they do too, women are catching up, and catching on to what is happening. Thank you Joel for your thoughts here.

  25. Hi Leanne,

    You always have such great topics.

    I am a male member of a camera club and I do see that it is male dominated but when I go on field trips it is mainly the ladies that show up. Have not quite figured that one out yet. They are all great photographers and I have learned a lot from them.

    Another difference I notice about Ladies versus Men is that Men are definitely for the most part gear heads and the Ladies are more about the art of photography.

    I hope that in the future not only in photography but in everything, these types of attitudes and stereotypes fall away to a more enlightened view.

    • Thank you, glad you like them, if you can think of any other topics that would be good would love them.

      I think women do more the group thing, safety in numbers, I never feel safe going into the city really early in the morning, I’ve done it, but I don’t like it, or going into the city very late at night, though not worried about me, but I don’t want my stuff stolen.
      Yes, I think that could be true, I am into the gear, but only so far as having what I need to get what I want, and I’m not so worried having extra stuff to just have it.
      I really hope so too, thank you so much for your contributions.

  26. Interesting. In the same way that girls are expected to play with dolls, women are expected to photograph babies and weddings? Ugh!
    Excuse the feminist rant, but I am frustrated that men still get paid more, that men comprise most of the professionals in the groups that you listed, and that perceptions still exist.
    Thanks for bringing up such a great topic!

    • Yes, in the same way, or it is the perception anyway.
      No need to excuse yourself there, I think many of us feel exactly the same way LB.
      You are welcome, it has been interesting to see what people think.

  27. What a fascinating idea for a post, I like some others commenting thought about what I take photographs of, and initially it was family for memory but soon became the events they were in, people I wanted to remember, but when I moved to Northern Queensland nature was an absolute inspiration, but also people’s interaction and fascination with it, particularly children.

    Then there was the fascination with the technical aspects and being able to abstract nature, until it looked like art. I liked playing with the real.

    No matter whether male or female I think we can all challenge the way the world is seen and reflected.

    There are different kinds of portrait photography, realist and surreal and there’s that social conscience photography, of difficult topics like poverty, violence, war, starvation. Images are just so powerful.

    Male, or female, I am not personally attracted to objectifying or purely functional photography, I want something that speaks to my heart, soul and is memorable. I go looking for these images everywhere now. It makes me so long to travel.

    • Thank you Pearlz, it is great hearing from people and seeing what they like to do with their photography, and it is interesting how you have moved on from the reasons you started, perhaps changed is a better word, I don’t mean it in a derogatory way.
      We can challenge the world and I think we should, if we don’t nothing ever changes.
      There are so many different kinds of photography.
      I like that last part, and it is something we should all think about. Thank you for your thoughts here Pearlz.

  28. ps can I please reblog this post, to bring attention to it, and direct people here to discuss. :)let me know

  29. Firstly, my demographics in case any of it is of importance.

    Gender: Male
    Current Age: 43
    Nationality: Canadian (but born in England)
    Race: Negro
    Ethnicity: Anglophone Afro Canadian
    Photographic Repertoire: Landscape, Portraiture, Street/Urban, Homeless, Industrial, Wedding/Event

    In short, as much as I’ve actually tried to see it for myself I really can’t tell if there are more, the same or less female photographers to male in this day and age. It’s at least my perception that while there is a noticeable increase in the number of women worldwide who are becoming amateur and pro photographers, women are still underrepresented and/or less recognized professionally.

    I agree with the idea that women are more associated with child and infant portraiture but I don’t see that work as less “cool”. I wish more men were accepted – would be accepted, in the industry for photographing babies. We simply aren’t, accepted; neither by women nor by other men. In my coordinates of the atlas, men who photograph children are to some extent feared to be pedophiles.

    I am practically obsessed with street photography but there appears to be far more men telling the stories of cities and smaller urban communities this way than women. I feel the same way about photojournalism.

    There’s also a strange gender perception I have when it comes to nude photography, and I’ve alluded to it before ( The female form has always been the prevailing subject in the various styles, genres and forms of nude work. I’ve also listened to a great many women of various ages swear up and down that if they were to pose nude or semi-nude they would only do it if being photographed by another woman. They find the notion of being photographed by a man repulsive. I am still incredulous; however, that there seems to still be more male photographers doing nude work than women, and that there seems to be no shortage of women willing to pose for them.

    Of the women who do shoot nudes, they too seem to photograph mainly or exclusively the female form. It is a minority of women who include the male nude in their work, and I have yet to hear of a women who shoots exclusively male nudes while I’ve heard of some men who only shoot females or only shoot males.

    In racial/ethic considerations, like women in general, there are still not as many blacks, Asians and Asiatics/Middle Easterners recognized for their photography.

    • That is true, women are under represented.
      It is funny you saying about men not being accepted as baby photographers, not the first time I have heard of this, and does seem silly. Oh yes, the idea you must be a pedophile if you want to photograph children, we can thank the media for that perception.
      I do wonder if the reason for more men doing street photography is the fear that women might have about going up to strangers, the impression of it. I think the idea of being photographed nude by women would be the same as women preferring female doctors, they find women more comfortable.
      You have pointed out some things I hadn’t considered, or even thought of. Thank you for that, another direction for the discussion.

  30. It’s an interesting debate indeed. And it’s not about photography alone, it’s much deeper in the society and culture and affects many professions. Things are changing slowly, slowly in professions traditionally dominated by men and in public opinion. I’m sure the change will reach the “big few” in photography too, eventually.

    • That is true it is much deeper, unfortunately. They are changing, though one wonders how long it will take, if it ever will. I hope it does. Thank you Tiny for thoughts here.

  31. I think the question still is wether any company is preventing women from being their representatives. Buying more does not make anyone an expert. I know lots of men with “pro” cameras that are not very good at photography

    • How true is that. Some men have no idea what they are doing with their cameras, just as some women don’t. that is a good question, I know when I have approached companies I usually get ignored. I don’t know if that is because I am a woman or because they think I’m a nobody.

      • Where do I begin, Low Pro, Tamrac, Creative Live, wow I have to think of them all, magazines, Sigma, often not asking anything other than information and I get ignored. No not potential clients, but companies in the photography industry who I think can help with information and they won’t respond. Apparently me, my photography and my blog are not good enough.

  32. I am a member of a large photography forum and it is easily 90% women. But I also host a small group on facebook and out of 40 members 17 are men. Not bad considering I am a woman so had more women friends to begin with.

    • That is great to hear and just reinforces the whole notion that lots of women are out there taking photos, so why aren’t the companies catching on. I think there are lots of women out there taking photos. thank you for your thoughts here.

  33. Reading the comments has been fascinating, thank you for this discussion! I think there is a very real disconnect between the visibility of women in the ‘upper echelons’ of photography versus their participation at a ‘grassroots’ level. And I think this is something more epidemic in society than specific to photography – after all, just look at the gender distribution of professional chefs versus amateur cooks.

    • You are welcome, it has been an interesting discussion. I think you are right too, it is more a problem with society as a whole and something that needs to be changed. Thank you for your thoughts.

  34. It doesn’t help that the camera companies are now producing gear in all sorts of colours like pink, white, day glow green ‘ to attract the girls’. Although Kodak did that 70 years ago incidentally. It’s patronising and unnecessary. My wife has a much better photographic eye than me but little interest beyond holiday shots. Ability has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with stereotyping.

    • Oh yes, that infuriates me too, I hate that crap, it also dates your camera too, meaning people can tell how long you have had it. I always for black no matter what it is I am buying. That is so true, ability does have nothing to do with gender. I wish they would catch on.

      • Mrs. Ha bought a white Nikon V1. She decided it was too complicated. She gave it to me. I gave it to daughter 2. Who wants a WHITE camera? Aaargh!

      • I don’t get the whole colour thing, not at all, I really like black, and am happy to get getting black.

  35. Women can take wonderful photos, and they are second to none! By the way, the best photographers that I know are in large part women! Congratulations, Leanne, Robyn, Julie, Julie, Sophie *****, Schelley, Nia, Maureen, from Austria, France, etc.!

  36. I am male and I shoot landscapes and still life images predominantly. I generally don’t think about gender when it comes to photography and from a historical stand point there have always been more female photographers. The earliest photographers (although invented by men) were female because it was a hobbyist’s activity and rich women who had a lot of free time took up photography the same as others took up painting.

    I could say that female photographers take wedding and baby pictures but I feel this is stereotype. I know there are female photographers doing the same work as men and men doing the same work as women.

    I think when it comes to professional organisations they reflect society in some way , and although we don’t like to believe it, we still live in a very male dominated world. I also think of the perceived culture of serious photography, all tech talk and pixel peeping with people having pissing contests about who is better.

    Photography is a tough industry no matter what gender you are and your sex has nothing to do with creating a good image which should be the standard you are measured by.

    • I agree it is a bit of stereotype, and it is how many female photographers are viewed.
      I think they do too, reflect society, unfortunately.
      I love your last statement Ben, so very true, thank you so much for your thoughts on this.

  37. I remember hearing on the radio that when it comes to driving, men believe they are better drivers than women yet statistically have more accidents (something like that… it was a while ago…).

    So maybe that same chauvinistic bias has carried over into photography. Although we apparently live in a more enlightened age, I think it takes time to eradicate old biases. Not only with sexism, but in several other areas too.

    So every day we have to consciously choose to not fall into those old patterns. From my experience, some people who are good in one area may be totally clued out in another. Ageism, for example, is a hugely unexamined area. But there are others too.

    • I think we do live in an enlightened world, but we still have a long way to go.
      I agree about ageism, and many other things. I will continue doing what I am doing and see where it gets me.
      Thank you Michael for your thoughts.

  38. I’ve never thought about this. But you could be right. I just wonder whether more men than women have the confidence in their abilities to submit their photos for public review. And yet we have to ask whether that’s because women have been suppressed over the years. Great article. Very thought provoking.

    • It could have a lot to with confidence, I know I haven’t really been putting my work out there, well, except for this blog. That is pretty public. I don’t know, you could have a point there, thank you Michael, glad it got you thinking.

  39. Pingback: Up for Discussion – Men and Women in Photography | JOURNAL LE COMMUN'ART

  40. Interesting post! Allow me to introduce myself first: Ingrid, female, 45 (46 next Saturday). I mainly shoot landscapes, no portraits, weddings, babies, etc. I have been photographing landscapes since I was 12 years old and I feel comfortable with it. Would like to do more street photography, animals, b&w. I post some of my stuff on ViewBug, where they organize competitions. A couple of things I have observed:
    1. There are more men than women photographers on ViewBug.
    2. So, most of my followers are men as well.
    3. Finalists of competitions are mostly men (unless it’s weddings and babies!).
    I never made it into one of the finals, but I keep on trying. One of my pictures was featured in their Hall of Fame and it was a picture of … sleeping dogs :-)

    • Though I think there are more men in some aspects of photography Ingrid, there apparently is a shift in the market and more women are getting into photography and buying cameras. I know that we don’t do ourselves any favours and we should enter competitions, I am going to start and see how I go, would love to get into some.
      Thanks for your experiences Ingrid. :)

  41. I incline to the ‘equal but diffierent’ theory on gender. Therefore I agree that skills are the same and that preconception that it is a male-dominated area is silly, but at the same time feel that in certain areas women would be inclined to have more natural ability than men and vice versa. Empathy with babies and children – men can’t match women there. In general, too, I think men tend to be more fanatical about sports than women.

    • I think there is an argument for that too Colonialist, though some men here have stated they do babies as well, and don’t have a problem with it. It is an interesting argument, though sad that it is one that is still going on. Thanks for your thoughts.

  42. Hi Leanne,

    To be honest I never really thought of this industry like this and have never placed the stereotype of woman doing babies, portraits and weddings. However when I think about it, I realise that even in celebrity photo shoots, that you can watch on YouTube, men are usually behind the camera.
    Although photography is simply a hobby for me, I prefer portraits to landscapes.

    (A female)

    • I have to admit that I never really thought about it either, until I saw the list of Nikon Ambassadors and then was so surprised how most of them are men, overwhelming majority. It is sad, that this is something that is still happening, hopefully one day it will change and the majority will reflect the market and will be women. Thanks for you thoughts.

  43. In my thirty year career as a media producer, mentor and lecturer one of the striking things I have observed is that when a young person is self confident they will do well in the photography or film-making profession. Gender doesn’t seem to play a part at all. I suppose we could discuss why men or women are more confident about their abilities but that’s a whole new minefield. :)
    It’s a relevant discussion for me because I have two young people in my family who are both embarking on building their own photography businesses after graduation. One is concentrating on weddings, make-overs and baby portraits the other is working with bands, musicians and promoters. One is making twice as much profit as the other and getting great feedback, exposure and support. One lacks confidence and the other is usually over-confident. One is male and the other is female.
    No prizes for guessing the sex of each and which sector they are working in.

    • I think gender has nothing to do with it as well Steve, though according to Nikon and Canon it does. Though there could be other issues, I know that I don’t enter the right sort of competitions to get my name out there, so that could be an issue. I wonder how many other women have done the same. Thanks for you input and experiences here Steve, and good luck to both your kids.

  44. I really enjoy this discussion as it’s very thought-provoking. By the way, I’m female and I think my portraiture skills are fairly subpar… I don’t suppose I fit in very well with the woman photographer stereotype. (If I have a strength in anything, it might be nature photography.) But I can’t deny that the majority of photographers in my area that I’ve met, or know of, are women who specialize in wedding, baby, or family shoots.

    • It seems to be the thing, that women gravitate towards that type of photography, been there myself, now I am starting to see what I really want to do and going after that. I think you should do what you want and bugger the stereotype. I think that is the best way to go. We need to stand up for ourselves, LOL, thank you for your thoughts, good luck with your nature photography.

  45. What an interesting topic Leanne! On my photography course we have a group of 13 people, 5 men and 8 women. :) Many of the women are mostly into landscape and nature photography, while men are more into street photography, and taking photos of people, events, etc. So I guess it depends. When I think of women photography, for me it can be any kind of photography. Same with men. Maybe I am so new to photography myself that I don’t have such gender-specific idea about it. :) I see both men and women doing all kinds of photography, but I guess it is what is happening now everywhere. I wonder if Canon and Nikon just haven’t realised to keep their pages gender-neutral. I myself, as a woman, like to photograph all kinds of different subjects and I don’t feel restricted to stick to certain directions. Finland is a very gender-neutral and equal rights country so maybe that explains also.

    • I think the same, I don’t think there is any difference between what women can photograph and what men can photography, they can both do it all and equally well. I wonder the same about Nikon and Canon, it is very disappointing to see them so gender biased in this way. I don’t feel the need to be restricted by what I photograph either. I do what I want, really, and try and figure out how to get to do more of it. Thanks for your thoughts on this Elina.

  46. I haven’t thought about this topic much at all, but it is a very good topic. It could probably be my generation, or maybe just me, but I’ve never thought a woman couldn’t photograph what a man can. Not a fan of the term “Women Photographers” or “Women Photography” – any of us who takes photography seriously are photographers. What women choose to photograph, I think it comes down to their tastes and what they like photographing.

    I’ve been following Singaporean female photographer Dawn Chua for a while now She shoots concerts and motor sport. Looking at her photos, you’d think she is a man photographer. She’s very young too.

    As for me, well, I don’t classify myself as a photographer yet although I take quite a few photos when I’m out. Inching ever closing to getting a mirrorless Nikon…Nikon have much more variety than Canon in my opinion. Hope you’re well, Leanne, and having a productive week :)

    • I feel the same way Mabel, that there isn’t anything a man can photograph that a woman couldn’t either. I agree, it is all about taste.
      I don’t think you can tell by looking at photos, for the most part, who took the images. That is good.
      That sounds good, you know how I feel about Nikon. I am sure whatever you choose you will have a lot of fun with it. I am getting better, which is good, and it has been productive in many ways, I hope your week is good too. :)

  47. Interesting question. I know four professional photographers (as in, they make a living from it) and three of them are women. Two of those women do press photography and the one guy does studio modelling shots for advertising. I had never really thought about it until you asked, but equally, hadn’t thought that knowing a majority female photographers was odd either.

    • That’s great and really that is what the reality is, but it seems what Nikon and Canon do isn’t really representative of the photography world, it is very disappointing, and disheartening for women. I do hope that they change that. Thank you for your thoughts.

  48. I never think about the sex of the photographer. I appreciate a photo for what it is and admire the artistry of the person who took it.

    • I think that is exactly how it should be, ultimately, I just feel that Nikon and Canon are not really representing the photography world correctly, which is such a shame, since women are their biggest customers these days, or so I’ve heard. Thanks Lulu.

  49. I aim to be gender-blind; whether i succeed is not for me to say! The evidence that our patriarchal society still has a tremendously biased slant is incontrovertible; it’s pervasive to the point it is almost invisible. When I run up against it, in an overt instance, I’m still somewhat taken aback, as I just don’t “get it.” The wonder of photography, to me, is that the world is encountered in as many ways as there are eyes – or cameras… We all create our own realities: that is the human condition. Each of us frames our personal vision within certain parameters and expressions; as we learn of ourselves, our views of our surroundings shift as well; this is the developing of an “eye”, which after all, is a window to the soul.

    • I have to say, they way you think about it is probably the way I think about it. I had heard there was still inequality with wages and such, which was recent and I was so surprised, surprised that it was still happening. So when I saw thing, again, I was surprised, with so many women doing so well in photography, I really thought that half the ambassadors would be women. Thanks for your thoughts here.

  50. This disparity occurs not only in photography, but in most areas of “art”, except perhaps “craft” which is not really “art” and is mostly done by women – is this why the divide occurred between art and craft? To subjugate women from the serious world of Art?

    This question has been raging since the 70s when Linda Nochlin published a journal article titled “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” And the question still rages on…

    The guerrilla girls are also active around this issue and have been for decades – for them to still be active means there is still an issue… as you have discovered on the Nikon website…

    Look at University numbers – most students are female, but what happens to them when they graduate?? The numbers don’t add up…. this also applies to the Uni lecturers.

    Anyways…. I guess we just keep plugging on !!

    • It certainly doesn’t add up Dawn, it is quite surprising, I really didn’t expect it, silly I know, but I thought it was a battle that had been won. Obviously it was wishful thinking on my part. Thanks Dawn.

  51. Leann,
    When I go to the Nikon Ambassadors page I find 5 woman and 15 men or 25% women. Not good enough but a lot closer than you found. They are respectively: wedding; photojournalism; fashion; lifestyle; travel/doc. What I found more interesting is that 4 of them are blond, and 3 have what I would call “feminized” names: Bambi; Dixie; and Ami. They seem to range from 25 to maybe 50.
    In my circle, I have met a lot more male then female wedding photogs; a lot more female then male street photogs (as one friend said to me – “you are 6 foot plus and 190 pounds and I am 5’3″ and 105. Which of us scares people?”). All boudoir photogs I know are female and the men I know who do babies and children have to do them under the aegis of a studio or else the pedophile image scares people off. “Why would any man want to shoot a child who isn’t his? He must be a creep.” All that is anecdotal of course.
    I do wonder with the Ambassadors, if the amount of travel has an impact on the sex balance. Because I have usually worked from home, I was the primary care giver for our daughter (doctor’s appointments, playdates, illness etc.) but when she was young I was always much more willing to travel than my wife was. Now that she is a teen the situation has reversed a bit.
    Just my two cents…

    • A good two cents too Robert, it is good, and you have to wonder who is picking these people. Maybe as others have said, not enough women are putting their landscape, nature or architectural images out there. I guess we might have to take some blame, maybe, I haven’t done it, besides this blog, but I am going to start. Thanks for your thought Robert.

  52. Sticking my neck out with a pretty basic view of the discussion …… other than the notion of ‘equality’ does it really matter how the world of photography is presented? Men/women have the same opportunity and ability to purchase the equipment and express themselves through their photography. How the product is advertised makes no difference to me – what matters is whether it’s something I need and/or will do what I want.
    When it comes to ‘professional photography’ I’ve no idea of statistics but maybe there just are more men succeeding than women?

    • My thoughts are do they Noeline, especially when it comes to the upper levels of the profession, I think if you aren’t a professional and not looking to make a career in it, perhaps it doesn’t make a difference, but if you are, does the world of photography affect the work you can get. If you want to be a landscape photographer, will it be harder for you to get jobs because people think it is only a job for a man. Or does it mean that Nikon and Canon will sponsor more men than women, so you miss out because they don’t see you as being able to do good work.
      I think what you are saying is right for amateur photography, if that is the right word, it doesn’t make a difference, but I have noticed that I find it hard to get work, I don’t want to do portraits. Thanks Noeline, it has been a great discussion.

      • Maybe my view comes from a career in engineering – a very male portrayed and dominated world. Your work/ouput is what is important, you are judged by it and opportunities are made through it. I think the same applies to the world of photography.

      • I think you are right Noeline, perhaps I should change my name to George, then people wouldn’t realise I was woman and just look at my images.

  53. I like to think I cover a broad spectrum I want to get into culinary photography however I started out doing what I called “Asphalt Homicide,” which were a series of macro images; all dead animals hit by cars decomposing. I don’t really feel you can peg any one style based solely on gender. However, that is just my personal opinion.

    • I don’t think you can either, if you look at individuals and what they are doing, however, it seems the companies do, they are so male oriented, in both their advertising and how they pitch photography, it isn’t good, hopefully it will start to change. Thanks for your thoughts.

  54. I echo your sentiment that you’ve always thought you could do whatever you put your mind to – that’s been my premise as well. My choices of photography genre will likely be informed by availability of subject matter, my own interests, my ability to create a successful capture and not at all by any adherence to any perceived gender roles. Wow, I sound like way more of a feminist than I consider myself to be. ;-)

    • Haha, I think a lot of feel the same way Betty, I don’t consider myself a feminist either, but I guess we all in some way. I feel the same way about what I choose to photograph, and do that, I do have preferences and things I like to photograph. It is a shame that the camera industry doesn’t see it in the same light. Thanks Betty.

  55. Interesting post and discussion. I do tend to think of men more often as photographers. However, I never even noticed that perception before.

    • I hadn’t either until I came across that page on the site and was really shocked, I really thought we had got past that sort of bias. Thank you.

  56. When you think of Women Photography what sort of photography comes to mind? Why do you think Professional Organisations still have more men represented than women?

    I’m not a camera salesman, so for me it’s not interesting who’s buying most cameras – women or men? The only thing that concerns me is what they produce with the cameras. The big majority of people use their cameras to produce family memories and boring pictures of their cats, plants and ‘facebook-moments’ of whatever they’re having for dinner at some restaurant.

    Many professional organizations largely consists of press photographers and in this line of work, the photographer is often ‘out in the fields’ in different war zones – a job where you’ll mostly find men, probably because of menthal and physical differences between the sexes (men are often more adrenaline seeking, careless and violent than women). A lot of war photography is just about being at the right place at the right time, or faking a scene, and it’s more often than not political propaganda. In my opinion male photgraphers such as Robert Capa (war photographer) and Henri Cartier Bresson (street photographer) are overrated.
    Of course it’s all a matter of taste, but I’m just sharing my thoughts.

    Most of my favourite photographers are women.

    I wrote an article on Daniela Rossell’s wonderful series «ricas y famosas». I really love her her ethnographic look at the Mexican upper-class’ tastes and lifestyles: she has a closeness & intimacy with her subjects.

    Another great mexican, female photographer is Graciela Iturbide. Some of my favourite works are Zihuatanejo, Ciudad de México, Desierto de Sonora and Juchitán (from the series named after the photo)

    Grete Stern – a lot of great surrealist works and double exposures. She made 150 photomontages, called Suenos (dreams). Fantastic!
    German photographer Herlinde Koelbl had some intersting photos in her exhibition “mein blick” where she’d made portraits of people in their apartments. Unfortunatley the rest of her photos probably didn’t appeal to me that much, because I can’t remember any of them.

    Madame Yevonde’s portrait of Lady Bridgett as Arethusa. A classic!

    My next blog post is inspred by another female, Wanda Wulz – The Cat and I. Double exposure at it’s best! One of my photos will be posted in Leanne & Laura’s Monochrome Madness.

    Iranian born Shirim Neshat has some interesting photos as well. Apparently they’re very provocative in Iran. I dont know her works that well and I’ve never been to her exhibitions, but what I’ve seen so far has been very interesting.

    I also think that Israeli photographer Mayaan Rimmer is someone to look out for, she’s definitely got talent. –

    • I don’t doubt there are many many professional photographers out there who are women Cardinal, I just wish that Nikon and Canon would see that. Thanks for your thoughts and the link Cardinal.

  57. Provocative topic. Two aspects come to mind for all folks, time and money.

    These factors historically have limited a woman’s opportunity to make her name in any field. Virginia Woolf wrote her essay, “A Room of One’s Own” to express how without adequate time and money, in general women could not achieve success as writers; in a nutshell, the oh-so-familiar tension women have between family and career.

    Many women have house and family and job obligations that chop photo time into short pauses. Even when men have families, the women in their homes usually bear more of the responsibility for home and children (as studies repeatedly show). Time demands choices of all of us. The Bard, Will Shakespeare, left his wife and children to move to London so that he could devote himself to his writing. Artist Georgia O’Keeffe decided not to have children. Dorothea Lange, acclaimed photographer of the Great Depression, chose divorce and childless years on the road to build her portfolio of documentary photos. It does not surprise me that so many women photograph children, families, and yes, weddings as these subjects often dominate (in time and proximity) so many women’s lives. Especially when photography is a hobby, it may only get 30-60 minutes a week of their time.

    Photography also takes some money. As already noted, men still make more money. More money can buy more and better equipment. It may take a woman, working at a lower wage, longer to build her gear arsenal, and it may be harder for her to recover from the purchase of the wrong piece of gear. Also, with men’s greater wage, they can afford more travel to more distant and diverse landscape or architectural photo sites. While a woman can go outside into her own neighborhood and there find/create some exquisite images, she may have less financial luxury to travel, especially while chaperoning her offspring.

    While not appreciative of the gender disparity of the Nikon and Canon and Fuji ambassadors and forums, I recognize their ages old legacy.

    More importantly, I look to passionate photographers now to encourage a climate of genderless opportunity and to advance the field in whatever specialty (fashion, journalism, wedding, cityscape, etc.) interests the individual photographer.

    • I think the stats are showing Donna that more women are doing photography now than men, that more of them are getting out there with their cameras, so my point really is, if this is the case, and I think it is, then why doesn’t their publicity and marketing reflect that? Of course there are always going to be things that take up a womans time, but I do think these days we can just say, no we are going to go and take photos. That’s what I do. Thanks for your thoughts Donna.

      • It seems that we are in agreement about the future being more open and supportive for passionate women photographers than the past has been. Perhaps my age spans a bridge of time that shows my nieces and daughter doing more with their career goals, whether in photography, cinema or the medical profession, than did most of my contemporaries. Change takes time. And, people seem to adopt technological change more readily than social or cultural change. Relevant to your comment on publicity, just last night I saw a news segment about a successful corporate businesswoman who now teaches high school girls how to boast about their achievements, how to sell their worth–something she believes boys tend to pick up more in their daily activities.

      • I hope so Donna. I do hope things change and that girls get more confident and believe in themselves more. It is taking so long, especially when you consider the women’s movement started over 100 years ago. I suppose it is asking too much for something to change in such a short time when it has been ingrained in society for centuries.

  58. Interesting. I love the outdoors and landscapes yet the majority of my followers are female. In general, my experience is women photographers seem to have supporting partners who give them the freedom to pursue their passion and have a broader outlook with men often seeing it as a hobby and a outlet from work with a narrower field of view. Off course that’s being pretty general and not always the case. I like reading travel journals written by male and females because of the different views as well.

    • I have one of those, he doesn’t necessarily like it, but he has never stopped me from pursuing it. We do all offer different views. Thank you for experiences here, I appreciate it.

      • I didn’t answer your question directly. I’m interested in the photo and perspective rather than the gender who shot it. It may be overgeneralised again however my gut instinct is a woman’s intuition and should offer a more insightful and insightful representation of a person. I also know a lot of women who shoot beautiful landscapes. Always comes back to photo and my response to it.

      • I think that is how it should be, but as a woman who is trying to make a go as a photographer, it is a little disconcerting to see the gender bias in these companies. Does this mean they think I am less of a photographer because I am a woman. Does it mean that sponsorship would be so much harder for me too, because of that. I think, for me, these are things I have to consider. However, like you, when I look at an image, what gender the person behind the camera was is of no importance to me.

  59. I think a lot industries, disciplines and arts are still dominated by men, but things are slowly changing (perhaps too slowly) to reflect a more equal society. But gender should never be obstacle to success, unfortunately it still is in many cases.

    • Yes, perhaps too slowly and perhaps women are not really on that anymore, or just haven’t realised, I know I thought it had changed more. That is so true, it really shouldn’t be, but it seems it is. Sadly. Thanks Stevie.

  60. Not long ago I ran into an old friend, whose wife is a photographer, and he said to me, “It’s hard for men to be photographers, right? I mean, if a pregnant woman wanted a nude portrait she wouldn’t go to a man.” Well, maybe. I don’t know. I doubt, just based on my style, that I’d get the Demi Moore shoot but I have done boudoir for women and baby photos. He was surprised. So I think the attitude is sometimes reversed, depending on what circles you travel in. As for me, I am open and inclusive and as gender neutral in my business dealings as is possible. I’ve been asked for architecture, portraits, and pet photos. Regardless of who or what, I make a proposal, and if the prospective client esteems my work and is comfortable with me then it’s a straight business deal. Yes or no answer, I stay professional and humble about it.

    Nice post, by the way. It’s a good conversation to have and thank you for sharing your views on it.

    • There seems to be areas that are thought to be dominated by women, and others that are thought to be dominated by men. As you said, pregnancy, baby, family shoots seem to be for women, whilst everything else is for men. You know that wedding photography is given lots of credit, but I can remember when I was doing fine art photography, studying it, I was told no children photos, they aren’t creative. Which would explain why camera companies are more interested in the other sorts, and since they seem to be the domain of men, they have more men representing it as such. It is such a shame that they can’t see that women can do that sort of photography just as well.
      I am glad you liked it Paul, I hope the camera companies see it. Thank you for you thoughts.

  61. In the Diploma of PHotography course I am doing, the more gender specific (usually) photography is being done by the opposites.. Quite a few guys doing weddings, portraits, glamour etc and women doing sports. One of the young girls in the class is 19 and one of the best sports photographers I’ve seen. Her speedway shots are amazing..

    • I don’t think men or women do specific areas, but it seems to be what the camera companies want us to think, that is the sad part, they aren’t keeping up with reality. Great to know that people are doing all different things, thank Livonne.

    • I hadn’t thought of that, but we don’t do we. It is interesting to see who the camera companies choose, and the gender, what image are they trying to portray. Thanks for the link and thanks for your thoughts.

  62. Actually I don’t think of a type of photography when I think of women photographers, I think more about the perspective and the resulting composition more than anything else. Raeski has a very good eye and will often suggest a different composition of a subject. The results is I have learned to be a better photographer because I’ve learned to look at a subject in more than one way.

    Also, I believe as more and more women perfect their craft the recognition will come and commercial sites will change and give women their due.

    • That is good and I think a lot of people think the same way, and you are right, now we just need the commercial world to catch up with reality. Thank you.

  63. I’m not really a photographer, Leanne, but I was interested in the points you make. Quite surprised that this also seems to be a field in which discrimination occurs. From my point of view a person photographs what interests them and surely, if they have to make a living at it, what they’re good at!
    I’m rubbish at people and pets and much more interested in my natural surroundings. There are some incredible photographers out there of both sexes. I look at the photo before I ever think about the photographer. :) Enjoyed the read! Thanks for your visits to mine.

    • I was really surprised as well, it never occurred to me that it would happen in photography. I agree, and it shouldn’t matter what your gender is.
      I think that is exactly how it should be, the photo/image should always come first. Thank you, and you’re welcome :)

  64. I was surprised when I started looking at women photographers through Facebook-that probably 90% to 95% were doing weddings and/or children. Only one was doing real estate photography and her work was fantastic. I have a plain little Canon that I love. I do artistic photography as well as nature and abstract. I also enjoy creating digital art. My website is

    • I know just what you mean Kathie, I do them, but not by choice. It is a shame how photography is perceived. I do artistic photography as well. Thanks Kathie.

  65. I’m a rank amateur but focus on landscape/architecture and street photography. In part it’s because of my work which involves traveling. I am a minority among my work colleagues and one of the few who head out alone with a backpack and an extra lens. I see the men with the dslr’s and the women with ipads, perhaps because of the size of the equipment. Photography is a huge time commitment and as we all know we ladies usually have a thousand other things we are doing, at least as amateurs. The equipment manufacturers don’t do much to promote women as photographers in their ads, almost 100% male. What to do? What to do? We ladies need to do more self promotion for sure.

    • I think many women buy DSLR’s, apparently they buy them more than men these days. I think that is a bit sexist the idea that women have a thousand other things, they can be just as dedicated to it as men and be just as good. That is very true about the promotion, they don’t. We do need to show them that we are as good.

  66. I don’t know much about art but I know what I like. And when I do, it matters not a whit to me who took the photo—a good shot is a good shot, end of story.

    When I think of ‘women photography’ in the context of numbers, ratios, or proportions I tend to go blank and fuzz out. (It’s an inbuilt defensive mechanism that kicks in whenever I confront something that’s a huge deal to others but meaningless to me. What the hell does it matter who took the shot, if it’s any good?)

    But in so much as I’m rabid about equal rights for all and the ‘level playing field’ then it becomes a big deal. The only advice I might offer is to demonstrate superiority at every/any opportunity—if you can—and hope for an impartial judgement. Sadly we are both a product of our times, and we are bound by them.

    WRT your posted criteria, above:
    Argus = male
    When I think of women photographers etc etc = I don’t. (I just take photographers qua photographers; and if the book is good I’ll read it.)
    Professional organisations, more men than women, why = could it simply be that perhaps women are reluctant to join?
    What sort of photography do I do = point-and-click (but working on it)

    • I think most of us feel the same way, we don’t care whether the photographer is male of female, and it seems there are more women doing it, I just wish the companies would catch up realise it too.

    • YOu wouldn’t think it would, and to most of us it doesn’t matter, I just wish the camera companies would that out. Thank you Patrick, it is all experience, I think, the more you do the better you get, or maybe it has something to do with obsessing about it. :)

  67. What a fascinating discussion. As a couple, we do find this come up a lot, and yes we do sort of fit the stereo type- Gee, the male is better at landscapes, and Dee (female) is better at portraits. It does boil down to the way we see the world- Gee’s very “big picture” and Dee’s very detail oriented. But that’s just us and we both learn a lot from each other as we go.

    What did come to mind though is that professional photography is sort of like cooking isn’t it. It’s easy enough to rattle off the names of a dozen or so professional male chefs, not so much for female chefs, even though you’d think there are just as many top level/ quality female chefs out there.

    • I love the way you say you fit the stereotypes, I know I don’t. I can do portraits, but I don’t like doing them, I think I am much better at architecture and landscapes.

      Yes, so very true, about the chefs, we see it all the time. Thanks.

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