I attended the launch of the 2019 Loud and Luminous Exhibition by the Loud and Luminous collective of Australian women and non-binary photographers at Contact Sheet, “an education and mentorship space, a gallery and a co-working space” in the Sydney north shore suburb of St Leonards, located in a complex of creative spaces supported by TWT Developments, Building Hope Foundation and Brand X.
This is the first time I have encountered these organizations and there may well be some intriguing stories and documentary subjects to be found within them.
“… These numbers reinforce the long-standing notion that male photographers receive better deals overall: including, but not limited to, assignments, wages, positions, and exposure. And it’s not even that women don’t make the effort. As the same study found, they do, in fact, do so more than their male peers: more of them are university educated, more engaged in social media, more versatile in terms of technology used, and more digitally savvy.
Which is why it can get irritating and exhausting every time news like a prominent camera brand announcing not one, not two, but 32 brand ambassadors, with literally all of them being male photographers comes out….”
“… The ‘Be Alpha’ campaign will also feature programs that are designed to foster growth in both the current and next generations of imaging professionals, the most notable of which being the flagship ‘Alpha Female’ program. This multi-tiered, female exclusive program is Sony’s thoughtful response to the imaging industry’s well-documented diversity challenges. It will include a variety of grants and mentorship opportunities for female photographers and videographers, as well as the production of several large-scale industry events. Additional details to be released soon….”
Details about Sony’s coming ‘Alpha Female’ program thread of the ‘Be Alpha’ campaign have yet to appear online but this is the very first time to my knowledge that any camera maker has done anything to address the huge imbalance in opportunities for and representation of female photographers and moviemakers.
It is likely that concrete information about the ‘Alpha Female’ program and the ‘Alpha Female’ photographers and moviemakers involved in it will begin appearing during the ‘Be Alpha’ campaign launch event on August 19th, World Photography Day, in New York City.
I hope that the ‘Alpha Female’ program will be a beacon to all aspiring and established female photographers and moviemakers everywhere, not just limited to the USA, and inspire all camera and other hardware manufacturing companies to make a real change for the better.
Coverage of Sony products, as well as those by Canon and Nikon, has been sporadic here at ‘Untitled’ but Sony’s ‘Alpha Female’ program as well as the other two camera makers’ coming high-end mirrorless cameras are incentive to try to persuade all three brands to assist us in writing about their products with firsthand experience.
Another such incentive is Australian cinematographer/director Paul Leeming’s creation of Sony and Canon inclusive Leeming LUT Pro, “the world’s first unified, corrective Look Up Table (LUT) system for supported cameras, designed to maximise dynamic range, fix skin tones, remove unwanted colour casts and provide an accurate Rec709 starting point for further creative colour grading”.
“Multi-camera shoots are now much easier, because you are starting with a common, colour-matched baseline, meaning much less time trying to match cameras in post before starting your creative grading. Once all your cameras have been corrected, you can optionally use the specially matched Leeming LUT Quickies™ for a one-touch creative grade designed to work seamlessly with the common baseline of Leeming LUT Pro™ corrected footage.”
Alpha Universe – Artisans of Imagery – 7 female artisans out of a total of 39 as at Thursday August 16, 2018.
World Photo Day – “Founded in 2009 by Australian photographer, Korske Ara, World Photo Day has taken over 7 years to grow into the global photography celebration it is today…. In 2016, World Photo Day reached a global social audience of 500 million people around the world, inspiring photographers around the world to share their stories.”
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“Tish Murtha’s relentless vision can be characterized by a single trait: empathy. She unflinchingly investigated forsaken communities crippled by ineffective government policies and bleak living conditions.
Despite her notable output — powered by an active home darkroom — her work went underrecognized throughout her life and after her sudden death in 2013. Last year, her daughter Ella spearheaded an online campaign to publish a limited-edition book based on Murtha’s series “Youth Unemployment.” She is now having her first retrospective, “Tish Murtha: Works 1976-1991,” on view at The Photographers’ Gallery in London through October 14….
… Gordon MacDonald, the exhibit’s co-curator, deemed Ella the “driving force behind the rediscovery of her work and archive” (Ella herself was blunt as to why her mother had been overlooked for so long: “Because she didn’t have a penis”). This was, Mr. MacDonald said, “a very direct and plausible argument to explain this historic lack of visibility for Tish, and many other female artists and photographers.”… “
“Because she didn’t have a penis” is an apt comment from Tish Murtha’s daughter Ella Murtha explaining why her mother had been so overlooked as a great British documentary photographer for so long.
Yet Ms Murtha was not always overlooked, given her commission to photograph for the London by Night show by The Photographers’ Gallery in London, in 1983.
Three other great British photographers also worked on that show – Bill Brandt, Brian Griffin and Peter Marlow – all of whom were already widely acclaimed and successful documentary photographers or if not at the time of that show went on to be so shortly afterwards.
Except for Tish Murtha.
It is rewarding, then, to see that Tish Murtha is finally starting to receive her due but tragic that it is occurring only after her untimely death at the age of 56 in 2013.
Bluecoat Press – Youth Unemployment, by Tish Murtha – “Youth Unemployment is a key body of work in British documentary history…. Almost 40 years on, her talent shines from each page. Finally, she has the book she deserves.”
Café Royal Books – publishes beautiful small books aka “zines” of British documentary photography by a range artists including Tish Murtha.
“The Nikon D850 is quite the beast of a camera. It holds a massive 45.7-megapixel full-frame sensor that can record 4k video and create 8k time-lapses…. The only problem with such an amazing monster of a camera is that Nikon thinks it’s too much for women to handle….
… I myself can think of a large number of women photographers that would be more than capable of producing spectacular images with any camera, let alone this camera. But when Nikon created a team of 32 professional photographers to be the faces of the Nikon D850, they didn’t choose a single woman photographer….”
Social media has a habit of recycling old news as if it were new news, so little surprise that SheDoc, the joint initiative between Screen NSW and the Documentary Australia Foundation, has appeared on news feeds just as its applications deadline of March 1st looms.
SheDoc was launched in November 2016 and is a joint initiative of Documentary Australia Foundation and Screen NSW with the support of Røde Microphones.
This initiative is not before its time, given I have witnessed and experienced discrimination for being the wrong person from the wrong side of the tracks for decades now. With luck, female documentary moviemakers who have been unable to break through the glass ceiling may begin to start seeing some cracks appear.
SheDoc’s aim is to give 4 grants per year to:
Encourage new voices.
Enable skills to be consolidated or developed.
Assist projects to be kickstarted.
Assist in building strategic audience engagement strategies.
The episode of BBC4’s long-running Women’s Hour radio show broadcast on Friday 10th February considers the current state of play for female cinematographers.
As the BAFTAs and the Oscars approach there’s one group of women who’ll still be excluded from the nominations, the cinematographers. They do beautiful work but never get the prizes. Why not?
Jenni speaks to two women who work as cinematographers; Vanessa Whyte, co-founder of Illuminatrix – a collective of female cinematographers and Kate Reid who has worked on shows such as Call the Midwife and Uncle.