This epic, five years in the making, is made up of 14 episodes narrated by Tilda Swinton, Jane Fonda, Adjoa Andoh, Sharmila Tagore, Kerry Fox, Thandie Newton and Debra Winger. Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema follows in the footsteps of Mark Cousins’ The Story of Film: An Odyssey, to give us a guided tour of the art and craft of the movies. Using almost a thousand film extracts from thirteen decades and five continents, Cousins asks how films are made, shot and edited; how stories are shaped and how movies depict life, love, politics, humour and death, all through the compelling lens of some of the world’s greatest directors – all of them women.
We don’t have access to TCM here but if we did, we would be glued to the TV set for the duration of Women Make Films.
“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’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….”
“Key organisations from across the screen industry have made a united and formal commitment to work towards building a more inclusive sector….
… To join the SDIN, all of the organisations have had to officially commit to a charterthat enshrines equal opportunities, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, disability or geographic location.
The charter obligates each organisation, inter alia, to reflect the diversity of Australian society in both who they hire and stories they create, to establish benchmarks around diversity, and to commit to seeking out and supporting diverse emerging talent….”
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.