If only I were a male photographer

Jan 28, 2020

Gillian May

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

If only I were a male photographer

Jan 28, 2020

Gillian May

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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Photo taken by author — I spoke with this man before I took this photo, but he was unsure of me. He let me take the photo after I gave some money and explained that I’m a photographer. It takes time to gain trust for any photographer, this is especially true for women.

I consider myself a reasonably good photographer. Of course, that’s subjective, and some may disagree with me. But when I look at my photographs, I’m filled with immense pride. They continue to move me and touch the part of my brain where art translates to goose-bumps and emotion.

They say if you want to be a good writer, you must write, read, and practice over and over. The same is true for photography. I’ve spent almost a decade clicking the shutter, editing my work, and admiring thousands of other photographs.

The learning never ends, and that’s the fun part. I know my work will continue to improve, and it’s exciting to think that there’s still room for me to surprise myself with new work.

A sa woman, I’m aware that I possess the exact same brain, heart, and creativity as any man. This should mean that the photographs I create would be of the same artistic quality as my male counterparts. But sadly, this is not the case.

Like any profession, when it comes to photography, men absolutely dominate the playing field. They receive all the awards, the prestigious jobs, and most of the accolades that can be had within the photography profession.

After many years of clicking the shutter and examining the work of other photographers, I’m beginning to understand why men rule in this profession. I’m not saying that there aren’t many female photographers who defy the odds and produce incredible work, there’s just far fewer of us than men.

Photo by author — many of the good travel photos I got were also because my partner helped me establish trust with the subjects. As women photographers, it helps to work in teams. These kids weren’t too sure about us. I wonder if the story would have been better if I were a male photographer and felt that I could assert myself here. But then again, it might not have been the right thing to do.

There are many theories as to why photography by women may not be given the attention it deserves. I won’t bore you with the common gender issues that many women face in any work we take on.

However, with photography, I’ve noticed three specific differences with the options that women have in our ability to tell a good story with our photographs.

I’m speaking particularly for photography genres, such as travel, journalism, and environmental portraits. These genres require moving into unknown territories and telling the stories of people and their lives.

Although these options are more available to male photographers, that’s not to say that all men take advantage of them. But the fact that these options are less accessible to women photographers may shed light on why our photographs are not revered in the same way within these genres.

Option #1: Men can get in people’s faces more

Some of the best photographs I’ve ever seen are so close and personal that you can literally feel the emotions from the person in the picture. Sometimes, you can almost get a sense of a boundary invaded such that the intimate story becomes compelling.

If I were a man, I might take the chances they often take in walking into a person’s boundary and snapping those quick shots. I wouldn’t worry so much about safety or whether the invasion is the right thing to do.

Men are taught that it’s not only appropriate to take risks, but that it’s their right to do so. And by getting in people’s faces, we see more intimate details of people living their lives. And that kind of intimacy tells a powerful story. That kind of story sells in a world where we thrive on the raw guts of what it is to be human.

As a woman, I have not only felt unsafe getting in people’s faces, but I also can’t separate my conscience from invading people’s space. The cost of telling these intimate stories matters to me. Therefore, my photos will always have a bit more distance and space.

Photo by author — this man was hesitant to let me take his photo at first. I worked hard to gain his trust and even so, he didn’t want me to get too close. I’m fairly certain this would have been different if I was a man.

Option #2: Men can go to exciting places regardless of safety

Again, many rich stories abound in places deemed unsafe.

If I were to explain the complexities behind what makes a place safe, it would take me ten or so pages to write it out. I don’t think I’m even qualified to tell that story, which is why I can’t, in good conscience, take photos in these places. These stories are not mine to tell and will undoubtedly be colored by my privileged lens.

However, most men are born with certain rights to safety and can often traverse in places that women wouldn’t dare to go. This makes it easier to trespass into areas with rich stories, regardless of the complexities behind whether this is appropriate or not.

Option #3: People are more open to getting their photo taken by men

As I said above, men are taught that it’s their right to invade boundaries and get in people’s faces. But also, other people accept that they have that right and, therefore, are more willing to let them in.

I find this quite remarkable because, in this case, there is a mutual agreement to allow a story to be told. For me, I genuinely wish this option was more available to women, as nothing tells a story better than two parties willing to share and record.

As a woman, I must carefully negotiate this with the people I photograph. I’m met with more distrust not only as a person but also that my talent and abilities are never assumed to be good. My photos are still effective, but they lack that little bit extra when it comes to authenticity and openness.

Photo by author — I love the colors and lines in this scene. I wish I had felt more confident and comfortable to get closer to these young people. If I had, I think the story would have been more compelling. None the less, I’m happy with how the photo turned out.

To be honest, I’ve learned to accept these limitations, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t even want to exercise the first two options. For me, those options pose ethical issues that don’t feel right to me.

The third option is the only one I pine for sometimes. If I were to be taken more seriously by the people I meet, I’m confident that we could co-create some beautiful stories together.

As with anything, women have to work a little harder to prove ourselves and to be taken seriously. This is certainly evident in travel, journalism, and environmental portrait photography.

It will likely take us more time, creativity, and effort to gain the trust of our subjects. We also need to be careful of our safety as we attempt to capture good stories in our photos. Also, we’re more likely to choose our conscience over getting the perfect shot at the expense of ethics.

Some tips I learned to transcend the limitations as a female photographer are:

  • Work as a team with another photographer, friend or partner. It helps with safety and gaining trust of your subjects.
  • Spend extra time talking to people, show them some of your photos on your camera, and be willing to compensate if it’s appropriate.
  • Learn proper techniques for taking photos at a distance so you can still maintain sharp photos that utilize the available light.
  • Work on your people skills. Communication is going to be even more important than it is for male photographers.

Keeping these things in mind, we can work within our limitations as female photographers and find the best ways to tell the stories of our subjects.

And in some cases, our limitations may even be our strength as our photographs tell stories in ways that respect boundaries and ethics.

About the Author

Gillian May is a former nurse turned writer, photographer, and traveler. She currently lives and travels in Colombia and does portrait and travel photography. She also uses her nursing skills to write about important health topics like mental health, addictions, and trauma. You can read more of her work on Medium. You can see more of her photography on her Facebook page and Travel and Portrait Instagram accounts. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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78 responses to “If only I were a male photographer”

  1. Michael Bray Avatar
    Michael Bray

    This is totally untrue….there is a LOT of female photographers with the courage to get into people’s faces to get those amazing portrait style street photography photos. As for unsafe areas there is female photographers for the AP (Associated Press) and National Geographic that kick ass and take names, and go into war zones with the men (and women) of our armed forces and get those amazing shots we see of war zones or civil wars between tribes in the middle east. Plus there is women who can get those boudoir photos of not just women but also men (even nudes), that as a man if I approached a woman directly about posing for, I would be accused of being a pervert and accused that I only want to see women naked or in lingerie or try to get laid by them (trust me I have been accused of all them unfounded online). So just because she is a woman photographer, doesn’t mean shit!! I know female photographers who will approach men and women to shoot photos of them and they are more readily agreed to than I am.

  2. Tunes Firwood Avatar
    Tunes Firwood

    TL;DR: it’s bullshit.

  3. Amanda Rain Avatar
    Amanda Rain

    I don’t agree I have no problem with risk taking and getting into people faces. as a photographer I am not into people though the last few years I have stated to leave some in my photos..and have been known when I see a face with great character to politely persuade them for some up close snaps. I think men have better imaginations though when it comes to art and photoshop in general which makes them stand out more in these fields, as for photography I think it is pretty even men are just out there, for women I think it is more of a confidence thing

    1. Michael Bray Avatar
      Michael Bray

      That’s not always the case, I get very shy and don’t always have the confidence to approach total strangers to take their photos.

      1. Daniel D. Teoli Jr Avatar
        Daniel D. Teoli Jr

        Well, street portraits are not for you then. You either develop great candid skill or shoot flowers and sunsets.

        I’m shy as well and don’t like talking to people. But I have in your face candid skills. So I do what I know. Should I sepnd a lifetime on complaining how I want to be a fashion / studio photog and never have any great skills at it??

    2. Amanda Rain Avatar
      Amanda Rain

      Michael Bray yes a lot of us are or can be like that , but like anyone in business shyness gets you no where, unless your a landscape photographer, but even promoting your work takes a hell of a lot of push and know how to get noticed , I am happy just doing my thing it brings me joy and it is a hobby i have had for over 40 years it will never make me rich

    3. Amanda Rain Avatar
      Amanda Rain

      Michael Bray Michael Bray yes a lot of us are or can be like that , but like anyone in business shyness gets you no where, unless your a landscape photographer, but even promoting your work takes a hell of a lot of push and know how to get noticed , I am happy just doing my thing it brings me joy and it is a hobby i have had for over 40 years it will never make me rich

  4. Michael Groah Avatar
    Michael Groah

    Id downvote, if that were an option. But Ill just disagree for pretty much the already stated reasons.

  5. Hugh Dom Avatar
    Hugh Dom

    Imagine if there is an other article about if I am a female photographer… The other funny thing is the author is a former nurse…

  6. Steve Tracy Snaps Avatar
    Steve Tracy Snaps

    The patriarchy:-D

  7. Don Smith Avatar
    Don Smith

    If I were a female photographer people would not look at me oddly taking photos of my daughters.

  8. Charlotte Fiorito Avatar
    Charlotte Fiorito

    Guys seem real upset.

    1. David Alves Avatar
      David Alves

      Women should be more upset, this is the type of woman who makes hard working women look bad, she is more interested in being a victim. Failure in life has nothing to do with race, sex, or gender. There are so many successful women in every field using your gender as a reason your not successful shows really weak character.

    2. tomtiki Avatar
      tomtiki

      Real upset? That’s putting it mildly, Charlotte. I’ve never seen so much defensive and mean spirited behavior from looks like….mostly guys. It’s fine to disagree. Different people have different experiences and beliefs. You don’t need be an jerk about it.

  9. Tod Heckert Avatar
    Tod Heckert

    female photographers have it alot easier than any male photographer.. prime example.. male with camera taken photos of children..or any where near people. cops alerted. they don’t even have to be taken photos of children and cops are called. female with camera taken photos of children nothing happens. people look and say how cutie.. and go on.. any male walking with a camera puts people in a panic. this is why i say female photographers have it easier than male photographers.

    1. ktfright Avatar
      ktfright

      No snark, but do you have an actual example of this? Like as in, an actual account of a similar situation happening?

      1. Daniel D. Teoli Jr Avatar
        Daniel D. Teoli Jr

        It is true. I was at a church fest and was just casually shooting. I was warned to leave or cops would be called. Same thing in a mall and at a pool. I was naive and had no idea kids were an issue.

        That was ages ago. I learned my lesson about trying to be up front. I don’t work like that any more, I just work candid. But candid work zaps your energy. I’d prefer to work relaxed, but you can’t do it in 2020.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6cc7bbeff331e04721fac4a3dfff81606547600fdd295e762d82c3ee3c8e1b5d.jpg

        If you want to shoot stranger kids on the street and are male…better hone your candid skills someplace else. You will be labeled a sexual predator if caught.

        I’ll give you boys and girls a tip on candid work. When I shot ‘The Lost Princess’ I didn’t stand around sucking my thumb. I kept walking. The ability to keep moving is what makes candid work possible. If you stay in one spot, no matter how good you are, you eventually get caught.

        Good luck!

      2. Marko Avatar
        Marko

        As a daycare and family photographer yes, I can tell you first hand that educators (they are mostly female, like 99%) and mothers, told me that they feel much more comfortable with female photographers. When I do get the client they usually stay with me but I am at disadvantage when trying to get them.

  10. Steven Gotz Avatar
    Steven Gotz

    Interesting. I don’t agree with #1 or #3 but being male, I suppose I could just not be seeing it. #2 is a given. Sad but true.

    While I agree that most things are easy for me, I have always thought that having a female partner would allow me to get more women in front of my lens.

    I have no problem telling my wife that I would like to photograph someone, but she isn’t always around. She is great at getting people to not only agree, but she is good at posing people and usually sees problems with hair and wardrobe before I do. And when I do see it, she understands what I need right away.

    So maybe the best situation is to have a mixed gender pair of photographers working together.

    Although the older I get (I am 67) the less females seem disturbed by me asking to take their photograph. Gray hair and balding might seem less threatening?

  11. Chuck Diesel Avatar
    Chuck Diesel

    Wow… this is absolute BS and has nothing to do with patriarchy. No one can see who you are, they only see the results of your efforts. If you’re good, no one complains, if you’re not, you tend to get “filled with immense pride” when looking at your own images.

    1. Homiejuice Avatar
      Homiejuice

      Yes but keep in mind not every part of the world is the same, she is not writing from the U.S., I don’t know the conditions in Colombia, may be a bit trickier there.

      1. Chuck Diesel Avatar
        Chuck Diesel

        Is this where I call you an idiot and say that you don’t know anything? No, that gets us nowhere. I will be a gentleman and say that I respectfully disagree with you, but I understand your point. Have a great day kind sir.

        1. Homiejuice Avatar
          Homiejuice

          Kindness and empathy are my best friends and strongest professional allies.
          When I feel myself starting to get mean, or feeling like I know everything and everyone else is dumb, it’s a personal red flag. At that point I try to work out to loud music until the demon is released.

        2. Marko Avatar
          Marko

          Wow man, chill. He has a point, some countries are very much men dominated and women are in disadvantage. Why would you want to call him an idiot for that? He is being logical while you are being well, emotional..

          1. Chuck Diesel Avatar
            Chuck Diesel

            Ummm…. did you read my whole response? Obviously not.

  12. Kevin Auld Avatar
    Kevin Auld

    Jesus, dial the victim dial down a little eh?

  13. Thomas Davies Avatar
    Thomas Davies

    I think both sexes have their challenges, a friend of mine got into some hot water covering a kids football game for the local paper. Generally I think few would argue that men can be unfairly seen as having sinister motives for their photos. On the other hand, I’ve got some very skilled female photographer friends who’ve been given unsolicited advice from ‘uncle bobs’ when covering weddings who assume they don’t know what they’re doing.

    1. Thomas Davies Avatar
      Thomas Davies

      I think Options 1 and 2 in the article raise some fair points, option 3 is very questionable.

    2. Angelina Wiese Devine Avatar
      Angelina Wiese Devine

      This happens all the time – I’ve been doing weddings for 12 years …

  14. Karla Fonseca Avatar
    Karla Fonseca

    Those are a lot of nonsense. Are you really saying that just because you’re a woman, don’t you take good pictures? oh come on … let me break down your numerals:

    # 1 Not only because they are men, they can get closer to people, this has more to do with the image and security you project, that is reflected in your attitude towards a stranger.

    # 2 No, men not only because they are men go to “exciting” places much less are born “with more right to safety” there are women and men who risk their lives for their photographic work, even many men do not go to certain danger areas because they realize that their family is worth much more than living the adrenaline of putting their lives in danger.

    # 3 No, men are not taught “that it is their right to invade limits.” Many men have difficulty approaching someone, as I said earlier, it has more to do with the attitude you have and the security you reflect. If you are weak in character or afraid, that is reflected and therefore people will not feel comfortable regardless of whether you are male or female.

    Finally, you are complaining that “only men” can get closer by being men and in the end you say that by ethical principles, do you not agree to do it yourself?

    What I notice is a high degree of insecurity, trying to find men guilty just for being men and that is why they do a better job. That is to pigeonhole women by saying that just because they are women, they cannot do something of quality. You’ve gotten into the head that they don’t take women seriously just because of your lack of character. I seriously suggest that you look into yourself and see your limitations and try to overcome them in order to achieve the quality and skills necessary for what you want to do instead of blaming others for your faults …

    1. Daniel D. Teoli Jr Avatar
      Daniel D. Teoli Jr

      Ah…’their right to invade limits.’

      That sums up a good candid street photog. (Providing they got talent.)

    1. Homiejuice Avatar
      Homiejuice

      whoa! interesting article, thank you!

  15. Robert Ieuan Griffiths Avatar
    Robert Ieuan Griffiths

    Calling bullshit on number 2. There have been amazing War Photographers over the decades and to be fair I feel they’re even better than the men. Catherine LeRoy is definitely one who wasn’t afraid to get in peoples faces or go to dangerous places

    1. Krav Maga Avatar
      Krav Maga

      Dickey Chapelle is one of my photographic heroes. She ended up KIA in Vietnam.

  16. Marciano Kluivert Avatar
    Marciano Kluivert

    Nonsens! ?

  17. Vadnai Szabolcs Avatar
    Vadnai Szabolcs

    What was this utter crap I’ve just red? Sorry, but it seems to me that the author’s biggest problem is not her sex, but her total lack of self-confidence and professionalism. There are numerous women amongst the world’s greatest portrait- and press photographers. Many even work in dangerous conflict zones I and many men would never go to. You either have the ability to approach strangers for taking their photo and to deal with difficult situations or not. It is not a safe puppy photography business. If you don’t have the ability YET, you can start training yourself with personal projects goals. Go further and further, get out of your warm comfort zone! So, stop making excuses why your pictures worth nothing, stop your ridiculous whining and start doing someting to improve yourself! This article is a complete disgrace for all the great women photographers before and after you!

  18. Robert Hicks Avatar
    Robert Hicks

    Unbelievably sexist drivel. Extrapolating from author’s own issues to every photographer in the world.

  19. Don Barnard Avatar
    Don Barnard

    Mensa is 66% male. Articles and Stupid feminazi drivel would have women saying being an intelligent man is patriarchy…
    Get over it lady if men are better at something than you, then you’re either wrong in assuming our brains are identical or you’re just not trying hard enough.

    So if you think you beat my 157 IQ then go ahead and try, you got equal rights to take the test just don’t cry sexism if you cannot prove your belief system.
    The odds aren’t in your favour and I could actually care less if you do beat my score.
    Have a nice day.

    https://www.us.mensa.org/learn/about/demographics/

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      You had me until “I could actually care less”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om7O0MFkmpw

    2. Ahmet Avatar
      Ahmet

      66% male Mensa club membership does not mean that men are more intelligent. It means that there is a higher number of very intelligent men who took the test. Also intelligence is nothing in its own. But I couldn’t care less. :)

    3. Homiejuice Avatar
      Homiejuice

      I doubt people really say things like this, this could be a fake posting.

  20. Vadnai Szabolcs Avatar
    Vadnai Szabolcs

    What was this utter crap I’ve just red? Sorry, but it seems to me that the author’s biggest problem is not her sex, but her total lack of self-confidence and professionalism. There are numerous women amongst the world’s greatest portrait- and press photographers. Many even work in dangerous conflict zones I and many men would never go to. You either have the ability to approach strangers for taking their photo and to deal with difficult situations or not. It is not a safe puppy photography business. If you don’t have the ability YET, you can start training yourself with personal projects goals. Go further and further, get out of your warm comfort zone! So, stop making excuses why your pictures worth nothing, stop your ridiculous whining and start doing someting to improve yourself! This article is a complete disgrace for all the great women photographers before and after you!

  21. Andrew Conelly Avatar
    Andrew Conelly

    I disagree wholeheartedly with this woman. Female photographers are far more approachable and can be much more personal than male photographers.
    I as a male photographer constantly have to justify and explain myself when taking pictures of my daughters at a park because people instantly assume I’m a pedo.

  22. Yvonne Richard Avatar
    Yvonne Richard

    Personally I think it can be difficult for men also, but for different reasons. I do feel people are probably less threatened by women in general, but it’s true that it can be (or at least feel) more dangerous for women to be in certain areas at certain times, especially carrying gear. On the other hand, people rarely if ever try to pick a fight with me, but I’ve seen it happen to male friends. So I’m not sure where I stand on this issue. One thing though, I’ve been told point blank by a male photographer that ‘women don’t take good photographs’. I’ve also been on the receiving end of endless unsolicited explanations about things I already knew quite well, which is such a bore. I just wish people would be nice, assume less and be less prompt to condemn dammit!

  23. Freelance cameraman China/HK Avatar
    Freelance cameraman China/HK

    Feeling a bit bitter?
    So many untrue on this article. Or if I apply this, I can also add that women photographer can do thing men can’t, so overall balance it.
    There is nothing correct on this article.

  24. ArtB Avatar
    ArtB

    Boo Hoo. Cry me a river. Men work longer hours in most every study for every profession done. They travel more, take less sick leave, and are more likely to work overtime without pay. They are also less likely to whine like you. Take your I’m a woman crutch and go jump in the lake.

    1. Daniel D. Teoli Jr Avatar
      Daniel D. Teoli Jr

      That would not be good. If hetero…the women make the world go around! Don’t want the ladies all jumping in the lake.

  25. Ib Thordal Avatar
    Ib Thordal

    It isn’t easy to be a male street photographer or like Thomas describes – and female photographer are often way more intuitive and “none spec fixated” and often free of these filters in their shooting and show awesome talent and pictures- so be proud of being female shooters I often envy that talent ???

  26. StR0Ng1 Avatar
    StR0Ng1

    This is completely NOT TRUE! I’ve worked with women photographers and found they had it much easier with their subjects especially with photographing couples, women and children, they put the man in a couple at ease and kids always respond much easier when its a woman taking their pictures, I’d be lucky if they don’t call the cops on me and as a man try taking photos of a young female sports team!!! I hate to say it but as a man asking to take a photo of a couple or children it almost seems as if they are looking at us being pervy. So this whole article is ass-backwards and more than likely just trying to get a rise out of male photographers.

  27. David Alves Avatar
    David Alves

    First of all, ohh shut the fuck up with the complaining I’m so sick of this self loathing shit and acting like gender matters, if your good at something you succeed, if you work hard you succeed, if you don’t you don’t. Stop playing a victim when you act like a damsel in distress your not helping your “cause” your making women look bad. Secondly, stop taking photos of poor people on the street it’s not interesting, it’s not artistic, it’s not creative, your not doing anything new, it’s poverty porn plain and simple and it’s the hackiest thing you can do. Really stop it, street photography of poor people is fucking disgusting, and again act like a grown up and work hard your not a victim you get what you put into life so nobody feels bad for you. Your the type of woman that makes strong hard working successful women like my wife look bad by playing the poor me card. Grow up!

    1. Daniel D. Teoli Jr Avatar
      Daniel D. Teoli Jr

      If it is on the street…it is social documentary….poor or not.

      1. David Alves Avatar
        David Alves

        Social documentary my ass, its the pinnacle of being a photography hack

  28. JustChristoph Avatar
    JustChristoph

    There are plenty of successful female photographers. Here’s a few names straight off the top of my head – Annie Leibovitz, Lee Miller, Diane Arbus, Julia Margaret Cameron, Dorothea Lange. I’m sure there are others I could think of, but this makes the point. Proportionally women in photography seem to be doing better than ever. In terms of access, being a woman can definately work to your advantage as often as the other way round. So stop this horrible whining sexist rant.

    1. Ahmet Avatar
      Ahmet

      Annie Leibovitz shooting Elizabeth II. video? Imagine the whole thing done by a man. :)

  29. Paulos Gkoulaxidis Avatar
    Paulos Gkoulaxidis

    Don’t bring feminism into photography please I don’t care who took the photo if I like what I see I like it whatever their gender, ethnicity, religion and everybody thinks in a pretty similar way. Keep taking photos you like and don’t make excuses about your photos get better if you aren’t happy with your photos and if you really like photography you will get better even if you aren’t doing it consciously

    1. Homiejuice Avatar
      Homiejuice

      As a professional photographer, my first piece of advice to an amateur who is asking for tips is, “after you’ve framed the subject, now take one step closer.” My second piece of advice is, “why are you taking this photograph? If it’s a person, the camera and resulting images symbolize how successfully you were able to connect with your subject and how quickly. As you become experienced, your technical knowledge of the camera, and composition skills, become second nature. At that point, connecting with your subject is the photographer’s great joy and reward.”

      1. Daniel D. Teoli Jr Avatar
        Daniel D. Teoli Jr

        Yes, a lot can be improved on if photos are easier to read and have a subject to focus on. This can be accomplished by working close. Many people are scared to get close. It helps the poetic flow of a photo.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7922be9702c3b70d8bfcdd1eaebdca5e1f203e590667995182a3b2e7a1ce2c6a.jpg

        I sat next to this lady on the Staten Island Ferry. Then when I got up I shot this from the hip while walking away. But to do that type of work you have to put your will above others and can’t conform to normal societal standards.

      2. Daniel D. Teoli Jr Avatar
        Daniel D. Teoli Jr

        Yes, a lot can be improved on if photos are easier to read and have a subject to focus on. This can be accomplished by working close. Many people are scared to get close. It can help the poetic flow of a photo. Many photos fail because they are just a mish-mash of nothing to focus on.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0974e37bc736d894c64d8bda8f2612839f2018340a01ba517dd09b94ee62496e.jpg

        I sat next to this lady on the Staten Island Ferry. When I got up I shot this from the hip (candid) while walking away. (It is low-res, original is sharper) But to do this type of work you have to put your will above others and can’t conform to normal societal standards…plus you need skills.

  30. JustChristoph Avatar
    JustChristoph

    I’ve just read the news item on the Travel Photographer of the Year on this same website. The the main prize went to Katy Gomez (female). The highest number of online votes went to Robin Yong (female).

  31. Ahmet Avatar
    Ahmet

    Absolute BS. As a man, I have a much higher chance to be punched in the face if I cross the boundary, than a woman. It took me about 10 years to build up the confidence to approach people to take their photo. It does not make me a good photographer just telling you why it is BS what you write.

    Also, try the same comparison taking photos of children. Oh, I do not dare. Instant pedo..

    Danger? Are you kidding me? Like men are bulletproof or what?

    1. Daniel D. Teoli Jr Avatar
      Daniel D. Teoli Jr

      Nowadays you have to be ready for self-defense if doing candid work. People are crazy out there. Even though you have the right to shoot in public, some people will attack you over your right.

      I am very highly skilled at candid work. But no matter how great you are, we all get caught sooner or later. Getting caught is no big deal…you walk away. But the problem arises when they walk after you…and are armed or attack you.

      Google: ‘Self Defense for the Street Photographer’

      …but do you guys and gals really want to be that hard-core with your work?

  32. luke Avatar
    luke

    This is total nonsense, I think personally the very things you complain about in this article apply to women, for example, I would say more people would be comfortable with a female taking your photo than a male, after all male photographers get this moniker of being “Pervy”. I would also like to add that in my life I’ve noticed more women get attributed to creativity and art than men. Again it’s anecdotal but I would feel confident in claiming this article as BS.

  33. Javier Cardona Avatar
    Javier Cardona

    No offense, but that sounds like a some fucking commie gobbledygook

  34. tomtiki Avatar
    tomtiki

    Whoa the reactions…..a little on the sensitive side guys….can you disagree without mansplaining?

    1. Homiejuice Avatar
      Homiejuice

      Agree — I am actually shocked at how rude some of these comments are. Generally I have found photographers and aspiring photographers to be well-mannered and professional.
      I will admit that the author presumably expected some reaction from her complaint — but resisting from responding or making one’s point in the same tone in-kind is a sure sign of good character.

      1. Daniel D. Teoli Jr Avatar
        Daniel D. Teoli Jr

        Well, they are not that bad. That is how it is on the internet. They could be a lot worse.

        If you want to do candid street work, better develop tuff skin.

    2. Brandon Booth Avatar
      Brandon Booth

      She womansplained to us, we can’t rebut? Hogwash.

  35. Homiejuice Avatar
    Homiejuice

    Today’s cameras so excellent and forgiving, the main challenge slash talent of being a photographer of people, is people skills. Some of the best photographers of course are women. In many cases, their images and even stories are so magical *because* they are women. As a photographer, always find ways to get outside your comfort zone! For most, that means getting closer, more intimate, with the subject. Oh, and paying a subject will mess things up on many levels, including your relationship with the subject, I wouldn’t do it.

  36. Brandon Booth Avatar
    Brandon Booth

    This is one of the worst takes I’ve ever read. I cannot count the number of jobs I’ve lost because the client was only interested in a female photographer. The portrait industry is DOMINATED by women. In our area, there are easily 50 full time photographers. Of those, there *might* be 5 who are men.

    This woman is so preoccupied with the small trees of her specific genre that she’s missed the forest of reality.

  37. Marko Avatar
    Marko

    Wrong on so many points. I photograph daycares and families and I cannot tell you how many jobs I lost by simply being a man. I had daycares openly admitting that parents would be so much more comfortable with a female photographer. I was told often that I am amazing with the kids but I have to get the job first to be able to prove it.

    This is a nonsense article. Think about it, just about every client that we have is a woman. When a wedding is approaching who do you think thinks of the photographer? Who do you think has the last say? The bride of course.

    When she is pregnant, who think of maternity session? The mother to be of courser.

    When the baby is born, who thinks of newborn session? The mother of course.

    When it’s their wedding anniversary, the child’s birthday, their parents anniversary, school photos etc. etc. etc. who do you think makes all the decisions? The mother/wife/daughter of course.

    And the fact remains, women feel much more comfortable working with women.

  38. timothyf7 Avatar
    timothyf7

    By just looking at the photos in this article, I found the first one to be pretty good… but the rest to me, were just average. Maybe this lady should self-critique herself to find the real difference and quit playing the ‘victim card’. Other than following the basic rules of composition and colors, the pictures are pretty uninteresting. Everything is very well focused and have lots of color, but this isn’t what makes a memorable picture. She lack any story or theme in the pictures, other than the first one. The B&W lacks proper use of tones to make it standout. She seems to do what a lot of photographers do… they see something that speaks to her and she takes a photo of it without actually identifying “What” speaks to her, and expects the person looking at the photo to have the feeling she had. The photos are well executed, but do not project any specific feeling to me. ‘Artistic ability’ is the difference between a photographer and a GREAT photographer. Right now, she should work more on her craft than trying to make money. I, in no way claim superior abilities, Nor am I trying to bash her. But as an impartial observer, that’s what stood out to me. Most of her picture just seem like travel snapshots taken with basic understanding of only some of the techniques.

  39. FrogLuvR Avatar
    FrogLuvR

    Come on now!, I shoot street photography with 2 friends who are women, and they can get away with a lot more in shooting people on the street. Me being a man, people look at me as if I am trying to get away with something. I usually stick close by them, and get some validation that I am “safe” :-)

  40. Daniel D. Teoli Jr Avatar
    Daniel D. Teoli Jr

    Nice report, but not all true. Danger and fights OK, ladies are not as well suited as men. But ladies are cut a lot of slack in the field and can get the photos the men can’t get. Esp when shooting candid street photos of kids.

    When male photogs shoot kids on the street they are a sexual predicator, but people seldom complain about women. Women can be good at embedding themselves with the people in their project. Mary Ellen Mark was good at that. But so is male Eugene Richards. A lot depends on personality. I’m not suited to embed myself with people. I excel a candid street work because I don’t like talking to people.

    Women generally are more timid than men. But it goes along with the fact that women are generally nicer than men. Although in this day and age, things are changing. Lots of despicable women out there.

    You ladies want a role model for ‘in your face’ street work…check out Cristina Garcia Rodero. She is better than most men. I’m in love with her! But maybe you don’t have the personality for in your face candid work? You should work with what you are most suited for. I wanted to be a fashion / studio photog, but have no talent for it. Glad I didn’t spend a lifetime trying to force things.

    Here is a short film I did on the Cotton Pickers. Maybe 60% was shot by Dorothea Lange. No one told her she could not do it cause she was a gal.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAVQaYdF6nQ

  41. Jurgen Lobert Avatar
    Jurgen Lobert

    This woman has serious issues with self confidence and generalization platitudes. “and can often traverse in places that women wouldn’t dare to go”. If you don’t dare to go somewhere, don’t blame men for being more bold. Deriving that women are somehow disadvantaged by this is just plain stupid, sorry.

  42. Krav Maga Avatar
    Krav Maga

    So much about this piece is just empirically and factually incorrect; starting with the fourth paragraph: “As a woman, I’m aware that I possess the exact same brain, heart, and creativity as any man.”

    This just isn’t true as studies have shown that women’s and men’s brains are indeed different. For example: https://stanmed.stanford.edu/2017spring/how-mens-and-womens-brains-are-different.html

    “New technologies have generated a growing pile of evidence that there are inherent differences in how men’s and women’s brains are wired and how they work.”

    Not that one gender or the other is better or worse, just that they are different. Generally speaking, women will tend to approach things a bit differently than men.

    Many of the things she brings up, she attributes to the notion that men are “taught” differently. Again, nonsensical. It’s clear that the inherent differences in how men and women are generally “wired” makes up much of the differences in approach.

    This is not to say that societal factors do not play a role, but let’s not undermine the role of basic biological differences.

  43. JulieSimpsonz Avatar
    JulieSimpsonz

    I notice that people commenting here, who disagree, are men. As a woman photographer of many years experience, I completely agree with you Gillian. I doubt that a man could ever be in a woman’s body or mind and fully understand who and how we think (and that’s not me being nasty or clever, it’s just a fact). Men seem inbred with automatic feelings of entitlement, whereas women are still expected to ‘walk a step behind’. Men can go anywhere and not be afraid. Women can go anywhere, yes, but more than often they are intimidated into feeling afraid by the surrounding males. People who are not women will not/cannot understand this. Often the women I see, taking outstanding photos and being applauded for it, are always in the company of a man when taking their shots. That’s not how it should be. We should all be equal.

  44. Ross Samson Avatar
    Ross Samson

    Sorry, Gillian, you can’t have a discussion about gender roles, abilities and opportunities without having your head bitten off by lots of angry men. Still, on the plus side, there are also responses from less angry men who have offered positive helpful advice, such as “get a life”, “stop making excuses”, “practise more” and my personal favourite “don’t bring feminism into it”. You see Gillian, feminism has no place in a man’s world. God is a man, his son was a man, the first human he made was a man, men invented photography: that’s partly why men are better photographers. The other reason, as you rightly mention, is the ability to communicate and inspire trust. Men can shout and explain loudly why you are wrong. It is impossible not to hear them and they must be right or else they wouldn’t be so insistent. I suggest you just listen quietly to all these men who have responded.