“This site has been developed to acknowledge the accomplishments of women photojournalists during the film era, decades before the advent of digital cameras. Also referred to as “The Silent Generation,” it refers to a time when a few courageous women first entered the photojournalism work force and simply did the work without fanfare but with steely determination. They worked side by side with men on a daily basis at newspapers, magazines, wire services, and photo agencies. They reported from foreign war zones, the streets of our towns and cities across America, and everywhere in between. A generation of courageous and fearless women who embraced all that came with the job. For many the work came first….”
The Trailblazers of Light website deserves to be better known than it apparently is right now, and I was pleased to stumble across it while researching for another article in this website.
I would have absolutely loved an inspirational and informative resource like this when I was a naïve, self-taught 15 years old part-time photographer for a newspaper group in the wilds of Western Australia.
At least I had a copy of ‘The Photojournalist: Two Women Explore the Modern World and the Emotions of Individuals’ featuring Annie Leibovitz and Mary Ellen Mark back then!
Australian photographers rarely if ever feature in camera and lens makers’ marketing materials and few Australia female photographers are invited to become brand ambassadors whether they are based in Australia or overseas.
Documentary photographer Megan Lewis features in one of two recently-released Fujifilm X-Photographer videos about the X-Pro3 digital rangefinder-style camera with documentary photographer Michael Coyne being her male counterpart.
Both are long-time Fujifilm users and are well-qualified to offer their insights into the X-Pro3 as a dedicated documentary and photojournalism stills camera.
I have yet to have the pleasure of meeting either photographer, though I am keen to spend time with Megan Lewis to photograph her at work for ‘Unititled’ in order to show other female photographers that one can succeed as a documentary photographer or photojournalist.
In the immortal words of Geena Davis of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, “if she can see it, she can be it”, and so stories, photo essays and videos about female creatives like Megan Lewis are crucial to creating the possibility of women succeeding in their chosen professions to the point where we gain parity with men.
FUJIFILM X Series: Megan Lewis x X-Pro3 / FUJIFILM
FUJIFILM X Series: Different Breed: Michael Coyne x X-Pro3
Fujinon lenses used by Megan Lewis and Michael Coyne in these videos
Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS zoom lens, soon to be replaced with a mark II version that hopefully corrects all its shortcomings.
Fujifilm Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR “Fujicron” prime lens.
I attended Fujifilm Australia’s First Look Touch & Try event at Ted’s World of Imaging in Sydney on Wednesday, 6th November, 2019, and had a brief opportunity to handle a preproduction version of the Fujifilm X-Pro3 digital rangefinder camera that has already been well-covered in Fujifilm X-Photographer videos and articles, and first-look commentary by a range of online camera pundits.
As the camera is in preproduction at time of writing, the usual request not to shoot or publish photographs made with it applies, so I will not comment on its stills and video capabilities but will attest that the X-Pro3 is an interesting evolution of Fujifilm’s professional rangefinder line.
Fujifilm is marketing the X-Pro3 as a camera for “street photographers” as Panasonic did for its latest rangefinder-style GX series camera, the Lumix DC-GX9, and I am hoping that with its X-Pro series Fujifilm will not be imitating Panasonic’s decision to make its GX series something less than a great camera for photojournalists and documentary photographers.
I dread the day my Lumix DMC-GX8 gives up the ghost given Panasonic so unexpectedly dropped the ball on pro-quality rangefinder-style cameras in favour of DSLR-style cameras like the admittedly otherwise excellent Lumix DC-G9.
The Fujifilm X-Pro3 digital rangefinder-style camera
Photographs courtesy of Fujifilm.
Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with MHG-XPRO3 grip and Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR prime lens.
Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR prime lens.
Throughout my career I have relied on a range of camera styles and formats – rangefinders, rangefinder-style cameras, hand and stand sheet film cameras, SLRs aka Single Lens Reflexes in 120 and 135 film formats, and a DSLR upon Canon’s accidental revolution in the form of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II.
My first choice for immersive documentary photography has always been rangefinder cameras and I have been hoping the X-Pro3 would receive many of the advances found in the X-H1 and X-T3.
Until I have a proper hands-on with it, I will not know whether that is truly the case, but the X-Pro3’s loss of the ability to use its otherwise improved optical viewfinder aka OVF with the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R moderate wide-angle prime lens is a concern.
For many documentary photographers and photojournalists, as it has long been for me, the 28mm focal length (on 35mm sensor cameras) is our default and its 18mm APS-C equivalent works well on the X-Pro2 and especially in its OVF.
Since 2015 I have been daydreaming of a radically improved X-Pro3 being released alongside an even more radically upgraded Fujinon XF 18mm lens with both aimed at documentary photographers and photojournalists, but Fujifilm seems to have decided on setting its sights lower than that, upon street photographers whom I humbly suggest might be better served by the forthcoming X100V.
Time will tell where Fujifilm is heading with its cameras, but I hope that it will not forget its documentary and photojournalism customers as Panasonic appears to have done.
Both companies employed celebrated photojournalists to publicize previous versions of their rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras but dropped them in favour of street photographers in their latest versions.
Videos by and about camera brand ambassadors as well as product reviews by them, more properly referred to as articles given their often fiscal relationship with those brands, can be often frustrating affairs when needing to know how well the cameras and lenses in question perform in the field in the hands of users not unlike me.
That is, self-funded independent documentary photographers and videographers.
I would love it if camera and lens makers made early efforts to get their gear to people like me for use in real assignments so we can hear how well or not it performs in the often demanding conditions in which we work.
The too-often generic overviews of just-released new gear by brand ambassadors and professional YouTube reviewers have their uses in painting broad-brush pictures, but they need to be rapidly followed by in-depth insights into performance in the field during real projects and for use in a range of specific moviemaking and photographic genres.
In my humble opinion.
Fujifilm has, in its marketing material, pitched the X-Pro3 at street photographers and photojournalists, and given photographing in the street is a form of documentary, one I prefer to know by the name of urban documentary, and the X-Pro3’s rangefinder form factor is just as appropriate to portraiture, event photography, other forms of documentary, fine art photography, travel photography and more genres besides given this camera has apparently radically improved on its predecessor’s optical viewfinder and electronic viewfinder.
When I wrote about the X-Pro2, I saw it as three cameras in one – a Leica or Contax-style OVF camera, an EVF camera like my Panasonics and a miniature view camera thanks to its excellent fixed LCD monitor.
Over the years I have relied on my X-Pro2 in all three camera guises, for architectural photography, portrait photography, photojournalism, urban documentary and product shots, just as I did with a range of rangefinder-style cameras in film formats from 35mm through 120 roll film up to 4″x5″ sheet film.
Even, in a pinch, for shooting 4K video in a way not dissimilar to how I used 8mm and Super 8 rangefinder movie cameras during the height of the analog era.
Seeing the world OVF-style is a rather different thing to seeing EVF-style and even DSLR-style when shooting stills and video, I have found, and it is good to get out of one’s comfort zone in a regular basis.
I have yet to study the X-Pro3’s specifications in any depth, and the same applies to the videos and articles I am sharing on this page, but it appears that the X-Pro3’s video capabilities are well beyond that of the X-Pro2 though they do not, of course, match those of the amazing X-T3 and are somewhat in the ball park of the oddly-timed X-H1.
Four videos featuring two female X-Photographers, one female retail store staff member and one unnamed female photographer against the usual slew of male photographers and professional reviewers. Surely camera makers can do better than this in this day and age?
bigheadtaco – First Look: The Titanium Clad Fujifilm X-Pro3 – “Warning: This is a long and nerdy video. If you want a shorter version, check out my shooting impressions video (link down below). Come back here if you want more details”
FUJIFILM France – Imaging Business – Cyril ABAD X Pro3 – “… Mes attentes en terme de vitesse d’AF, de réactivité, de fluidité de l’EVF sont satisfaites. Le X-Pro3 est plus rapide, plus précis.”
FUJIFILM UK – Looking back, moving forward. – The New X-Pro3! – “Say hello to the all-new X-Pro3. The exciting newcomer to our X-Pro range has been designed to minimise distractions, keeping you focused on the craft of photography. Watch the video to discover some of its exciting new features.” – depicts an unnamed female photographer.
Fujifilm X / GFX España Oficial – X-Photographer Matías Costa – Fujifilm X-Pro3 – “El #XPhotographer Matías Costa fue seleccionado por FUJIFILM Corporation como uno de los integrantes del selecto grupo de probadores oficiales de la cámara #Fujifilm #XPro3. El resultado de su trabajo es el proyecto “La triple frontera de Gibraltar”. “
Kevin Mullins – Fujifilm X-Pro 3 Review and Feature Overview – “… It’s a camera that may divide opinion, but if you are looking for a camera that will last forever, is amazingly quick, tactile and, in my opinion, the best Fujifilm camera fro Street Photography and Reportage work – this is the camera for you….”
Lee Zavitz – Fujifilm X-Pro3 – Hands On Review – “So I was able to test out the new Fuji X-Pro3 for a week now and I made sure to shoot with it a lot! So much that I feel like it’s safe to call this a review. How do you feel about the hidden screen / Sub display? Love it or No?”
Matt Brandon – Fujifilm X-Pro3 – Review – “Just days before the official release of the new Fujifilm X-Pro3, I managed to get my Friends at Fujifilm Malaysia to send me a sample camera. It was a preproduction. I say this because it had some very beta firmware in it, making it impossible to test out many of the new features. But the real buzz about this camera isn’t the latest software or new features like HDR and even the new film simulation, it is about the new design of the camera. The new LDC display or lack of it – so to speak. It features a controversial hidden display. In this video, only hours after I received the camera, I took it for a spin. Special thanks for Fujifilm Malaysia for the loan of the camera.”
The Art of Photography – HANDS ON with the Fujifilm X-Pro 3!! – “It doesn’t have all the video options that the X-T3 does, but this camera is designed for still shooters. Having said that you still get 4k video and 8 bit log. I filmed all of the b-roll footage of the actual camera with an X-Pro 3.”
“As revolutions go, this one got off to a quiet and unassuming start in the early 1970s. It was achieved slowly, one female photographer at a time, each hired by The New York Times for her talent with a camera and her desire to practice the best journalism possible.
The men who hired the first of those women quite likely weren’t thinking about altering the prevailing concepts of photojournalism. But over time, as more women were hired and gained acceptance, they began to push successfully for publication of images that were different, for the truths they saw in people and events, for assignments that had once been denied them and for assignments that had not been envisioned before….”
“Tired of the marginalization of female photographers in the commercial world, Jill Greenberg decided to take matters into her own hands. The successful photographer, whose work went viral due to her set of crying toddler photos, has started the directory Alreadymade. The site serves to take away any excuses for clients who feel as though they can’t find talented female photographers for high-end commercial photo shoots by giving these talented women a platform.
Although women are responsible for 85% of consumer purchases, female photographers are passed over for the majority of entertainment shoots and advertising campaigns. This means that male photographers are shaping the way we see and perceive the world the majority of the time (up to 90%)….”
It is great to see that Jill Greenberg has added her reputation and energy to the fight for equal female participation and representation in the creative media with her Alreadymade. initiative but sad to see that, despite a long history of great photography by female photographers, the numbers continue to be so against that equality.
Some influential, inspirational female photographers in my past
While writing this article, I began compiling from memory a list of female photographers whose work has been crucial in shaping my own way of seeing since I first picked up a camera, and that list just grew and grew.
Growing up in an isolated little town in the uttermost west, I did not have access to other photographers or to museums or galleries and certainly never saw exhibitions of photography anywhere back then, but I could and did order books from lending libraries in other towns across the state via the state library system and occasionally managed to buy photography magazines, so my access to other people’s work was limited.
As I added names from memory, this list just grew and grew and it is just the tip of the iceberg.
Further information about these photographers and links to their websites and other sources are available at Wikipedia’s List of women photographers.
Ellen von Unwerth
Julia Margaret Cameron
June Newton née Browne aka Alice Springs
Mary Ellen Mark
Advancing Diversity – “The Advancing Diversity Honors, held annually at CES, is the media, marketing, and advertising community’s premiere event to recognize and honor best practices and solutions for advancing diversity and inclusion.”
Advancing Women Artists Foundation – “Myriad paintings and sculptures by ground-breaking women artists have been overlooked for centuries and many works are currently in need of restoration…. Recognize and support art history’s ‘invisible women’. They were artists against all odds, and their legacy is yours.”
Alreadymade. – “100% locally sourced, artisanal female content. Please bookmark this site so you can consider hiring a woman a bit more often-for now we are hoping to get the ratio closer to 20% since it is under 10%.”
Anonymous Was A Woman – “… an unrestricted grant of $25,000 awarded each year to ten women artists over the age of 40 and at a critical junction in their career.”
Daniela Federici – New York City-based Australian creative, director and fashion photographer.
FotoDocument – The Marilyn Stafford FotoReportage Award – “The Marilyn Stafford FotoReportage Award facilitated by FotoDocument and supported by Olympus, is granted annually to a professional woman photographer towards the initiation or completion of a compelling and cohesive documentary photo essay which addresses an important social, environmental, economic or cultural issue, whether local or global. The work should, in part, showcase positive solutions to any issues it raises in order to contribute to constructive photojournalism, in line with the aims of FotoDocument and the wishes of Marilyn Stafford.”
Free the Bid – “Giving a voice to women filmmakers in advertising film and TV.”
The Guardian – The fashion photography of Marilyn Stafford – in pictures – “As a freelance photojournalist based in Paris in the 1950s and early 1960s, Stafford covered fashion assignments from the established haute couture houses of the 50s to the birth of prêt-à-porter, moving to London in the 60s – where as one of a small number of female photographers she helped to pave the way for future women working on Fleet Street.”
Tish Murtha, one of Magnum photojournalist David Hurn’s first students at the famous School of Documentary Photography in Newport, Wales, in the 1970s, was one of the finest documentary photographers of her generation but, in the all-too-usual manner, was ignored by the photography establishment until recently thanks to the tireless efforts of her daughter Ella Murtha, The Photographers’ Gallery, Bluecoat Press, Café Royal Books and others.
The course at The School of Documentary Photography was unique in Britain at the time and produced many fine photographers, a couple of whom later moved to Australia.
Others went on to fame and fortune, while Tish Murtha seemed to have disappeared into the background after initial early successes and commissions, dying prematurely in 2013.
Given the way female photographers have tended to be ignored and forgotten, it is wonderful to see that Tish Murtha is finally receiving the recognition that she deserved so much in her lifetime.