“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 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 Brown 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.
“There’s Jayne Mansfield, striding through New York in a tight dress. There’s fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg, reclining on a flight with a notepad on her lap. There’s lifestyle icon Martha Stewart, leading ducks round her property dressed in a denim romper suit. They’re all here, along with Susan Sontag, Nora Ephron and countless other celebrities, intellectuals and icons of the 20th century – and all of them women.
Susan Wood, the celebrated photographer who took these shots, found that her subjects all shared certain characteristics. “The first thing is intelligence,” she says. “The second is responsiveness. And they all had tremendous energy, joie de vivre, openness. They could understand things that weren’t quite said.”…”
“History confirms it – the first photobook was made by a woman, with British photographer Anna Atkins publishing Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions in 1843, a year before Henry Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature. Still, many historians, including Allan Porter in his introduction to The Photobook: A History, dismiss Atkins’ work as “photographic prints” rather than photography.
“Unfortunately, this is far too often emblematic of the uphill battle women photobook-makers still encounter when we talk about their history,” says Russet Lederman, co-founder of 10×10 Photobooks. “As we conducted research for the How We See project, we discovered that although women photographers produce relatively equal numbers of photobooks to men, their representation in the higher-profile sectors was, and still is, disappointing.”…”
“Rencontres d’Arles says it’s “working on it” as an eminent group of photography specialists publish an open letter in Libération urging the festival director to include more women in the official programme….
… The letter urges Stourdzé to create “a more gender balanced festival” and to do so by next year – as 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the festival, and as: “women artists have no more time to waste!” It also points out that there is an appetite for work by women, pointing out that the New Discoveries section of Arles, in which international galleries are invited to recommend new photographic talent, “arouses public interest, who vote for the award, and regularly reward women”. It also points out that Arles’ Prix du livre went to a woman this year – Laurence Aëgerter, for her book Photographic Treatment….“
“Late Monday evening, VII (pronounced “seven”), one of the world’s premier photojournalism agencies, discreetly posted a terse, two-sentence statement on its website announcing that Antonin Kratochvil, the famed photographer and one of the organization’s founding members, had resigned. Any further inquiries, the agency said, “should be directed to Mr. Kratochvil.”
Kratochvil’s quiet resignation came on the heels of a bombshell report in the Columbia Journalism Review by Kristen Chick, in which several women accused him of groping and intimidating a number of female colleagues. (Kratochvil continues to deny all allegations.)…
… There were stories about the toxic culture of photojournalism before Chick’s reporting, including recent articles that brought down the famed sports photographer Bill Frakes and National Geographic editor Patrick Witty. But nothing was as comprehensive and pointed as Chick’s piece. After witnessing a wave wash over Hollywood, the media, politics, and corporate America, Chick’s story should have hastened our industry’s own #MeToo moment. That hasn’t happened — and the reason is bigger than a few bad actors….”
“… in the broader photographic industry there is still an equality gap that exists despite the movements that publicly call out old school stereotypical gender ‘norms’ – especially in the professional photographer arena. Hell, it still exists in most arenas. Professional or otherwise! So what is wrong with this picture? Is it just that more men are interested in photography than women and so more men become professionals? Well, if that were the case then what happened to all those young women I attended art school with? Exceptionally talented photographers….”
“Although there seems to be more focus on the gender disparity issue lately—some are even cynically saying it’s a fashionable trend to talk about gender and diversity—the fact remains that women are less represented and less awarded in the profession of visual journalism….”
Women Photograph – “an initiative that launched in 2017 to elevate the voices of female visual journalists.”