1. This week’s @withthelocals guest has me ready to trade in my subway card for some smoke bombs #losangeles #paulsmith @christinawinkelmann #outwithlocals

     
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  3. Glitter & Rye + Verily Magazine

     
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  12. danielshea:

    Image above: Emily Shur

    I’m beginning to collect responses to last week’s post on sexism in editorial photography. The response was totally overwhelming (if I somehow missed your response or email, please send it again) and the amount of insight offered was incredible. Ideally, I think someone should take the reigns and collect a lot of this information and organize it somewhere on the web permanently. I’m extremely reluctant to do anything like that personally, considering it’s not my place to speak for women and their experiences. But I can say that based on what people are sharing with me, there is something very substantial here and I’m hoping it becomes something bigger. 

    To begin, someone sent me a link to this article on women and work, which had a very relevant Nicki Manaj quote:

    When you’re a girl, you have to be everything. You have to be dope at what you do, but you have to be super sweet, and you have to be sexy, and you have to be this and you have to be that and you have to be nice, and you have to — it’s like, I can’t be all of those things at once. I’m a human being.

    Below are excerpts and links to the larger responses:

    On female photographers not fitting the aesthetic of certain publications:

    I don’t buy a blanket statement that an entire gender does not fit the aesthetic of a magazine.  It’s fair enough to claim that an individual photographer or certain style of photography doesn’t fit a magazine’s aesthetic.  Not everyone is going to like everyone’s work.  Not everyone should.  A good photographer makes a choice at some point in their career – perhaps at several points in their career – to make a certain type of work.  We have to choose a direction.  It’s very possible that feminine energy naturally lends itself in one direction and male energy in another.

    On the management of stress, time, and shooting high profile people/situations:

    Um, none of these things have ever been a problem for me.  I’ve photographed actors, athletes, musicians, billionaires, politicians, world-renowned scientists, writers, chefs, artists, and countless others.  I do the 10-hour shoot.  I do the 10-minute shoot.  I do whatever needs to be done.  Like all photographers, I have found myself in some stressful circumstances over the course of my career.  I always handle myself appropriately and get the job done to the best of my ability – not my ability as a woman, but my ability as a capable, experienced professional photographer.  One’s ability to work well under stressful conditions is not a matter of gender, it’s a matter of personality.  I’m borderline insulted that this topic even came up. 

    -Emily Shur’s excellent post

    I would scour magazines to find the latest and most interesting work. I would rip out the pages from Vibe,Paper, and i-D with the work of Melanie Mcdaniel, Elaine Constantine, Dana Lixenberg, Cleo Sullivan, Anna Palma and Corinne Day. They inspired me. I loved their work. I loved their perspective. It made me think in a different way, and I learned from it. I would read The New York Times and be inspired by Brenda Ann Keneally. I printed at Printspace next to Baerbel SchmidtJustine KurlandImke LassSylvia OtteGillian LaubElinor CarlucciTracey Baran and an assortment of guys whose careers took shape much differently than mine. 

    When I arrived in New York City in 1995, I began assisting many photographers, including Jill GreenbergTria Giovan, Anna Palma and Ellen Silverman, none of who had assisted and all of whom had their careers going. I also worked for a bunch of male photographers. It was much harder to be a female assistant. I would work for fashion photographers as a second assistant and literally feel invisible on the set because the other women were skinny models who were sixteen years old. When I would pick up from the equipment rooms at any of the big studios, I was routinely treated like a “girl who couldn’t possibly know anything.” The men running the equipment rooms were bullies who hated their jobs and took it out on assistants who were not part of the cool club. Pier 59 anyone?

    -Another awesome post by Erin Patrice O-Brien

    I had such an intense and complicated reaction to reading this, and I’m not really sure where to start or where it will end up. My method for dealing with sexism is based on denial and dismissal. I enjoy discussing gender, sexuality, and discrimination but in a clinical and emotionally distant manner. During the few times I have been extremely mistreated or felt physically unsafe due to my gender it has been almost a relief to feel that it was warranted for me to call it out and react. 

    I feel that I have made it a mission to ignore much of the sexism I experience with the hope that this negates its existence. I think many women like me exist in the same way. I am strong, I am educated, I have some valued role models, and a decent amount of privilege (college, white, upper? middle class). There is a certain part of me that feels that I have no right to complain, especially when addressing small or more ubiquitous acts of sexism. Just writing this makes me feel whiny and self-righteous. My reaction has been to try really hard to prove myself, in all of my environments. I try to counter expectations put upon me as a woman, to the extreme of making myself at times seem insular, unapproachable and aggressive.

    -Jess Pierotti’s post

    I can say personally that my sexuality has come into play plenty a lot, whether it was being pigeonholed as a photographer who can only photograph gay related material, or that I wasn’t appropriate for a job because of my sexuality.  It is something that I have been fighting with for years.  I’d say this is the norm, but there has been scenarios where a real intelligent dialogue has happened, such as when I photographed Fred Phelps and how aware TIME was of what it meant to have a gay photographer in that situation.

    -Ryan Pluger’s response and the post he is mentioning above (definitely read it)

    Also.. “one editor mentioned that most media, art and literature is made to fit a masculine perspective”. Again, I’m not usually one to talk about these things but what an incredibly quaint misogynist statement. These feel like insanely old-fashioned points of view. Are we seriously equating masculine perspective as to mean a smart, powerful, opinionated perspective? Are we so blatantly colored by our own biases towards female perspectives that we have to call an interesting and curious mind (if that’s the target) “a MALE perspective” to get respect?!? 

    -Kimmy Fung’s response

    Another noteworthy point was the mention of the high capacity of female photography students. The majority of my class, and the year to follow, were females.. most, if not all of them, are not pursuing photography as a career. Why could this be? And does it have any effect on the females that do decide to pursue photography on a more professionally based level?

    -Angela Lewiss post

    However, I know I could shoot some killer editorials and I hope someone realizes that. In a traveling/outdoors perspective, I know I’m on par with a lot of dudes, if not more so. I hitchhike, I sleep in ditches, I meet strangers. I spent my summer living off the grid working on a farm, building greenhouses, doing landscaping work. I can chop wood and gut a fish. And I can take a crisp photo with some sweet composition. Maybe all these things don’t amount to a good editorial photographer. But I can also keep a schedule and stay ~*~*chilllll*~*~ under pressure. Or maybe my style of dream editorial photography jobs are a very small niche that are being filled by PRO DUDES (not sarcasm, I think these are wonderful people) like Peter Sutherland, Corey Arnold, etc. I don’t know! I try not to brood over this really. What I do focus on is SUPPORTING MY LADIES! And pointing out girl on girl hate when I see it and doing my best to prevent it.

    I studied Film Production in college and since then I’ve been trying to make the transition from video editing to photography. I’ve completely felt the impact of sexism- from all ends. From being told “you are good assistant editor, but women tend to be more nurturing to clients rather than to the actual editing”- to being turned down for on set jobs because they were afraid I couldn’t handle the job “physically.” Even in film school, crewing up, both guys and girls would tend to ask the girls to produce, set deign, and edit - but when it came to DPing or gaffing, almost always they asked a guy. An older female student said to me, “women tend to be more organized than the guys, they make good producers. It’s compliment.” So while our industry is mainly me, this is impacted by everyone.  

    -Brianna Wilson’s post

    I feel like newspaper/photojournalism world talks about the advantages to being a female photographer (ie: more gentle touch for sensitive subjects, can cover women-sensitive issues, less assuming than male photographers sometimes…) but that conversation never seems to carry over into the magazine world, at least from my limited experience there. Yes, sometimes women have a different approach to dealing with stressful and tense situations, but that doesn’t mean they are any less effective in dealing with them. 

    -Emily Berl’s post

    My initial reaction to hurt or injustice is often humor. Thus I’ve been mulling over starting a blog called “Lady Bros” in response to all of the bro-ness that permeates the photo community that women are seemingly very excluded from.. ie. the surfing, biking, gear-jerking-off business that floods Instagram accounts and Tumblrs. I often joke that I’m never going to make it in this industry because I don’t do an extreme sport. Theoretical posts composed in my head for Lady-Bros include i-phone shots of my new pink camera bag, my unicorn-print yoga mat, foto-tampons specially designed to fit perfectly and discretely in said pink camera bag (shhh don’t let your clients know!). Lady-bro things.  

    -Morgan Levy’s post

    And a couple of other responses not from Tumblr:

    I have to say I largely agree with the agression/ testosterone thing. I also have to mention testosterone itself and its ability to help with decision making. Actually its the most predominate characteristic in testosterone and I’m sure you can appreciate why that gives men (who often but not always have more testosterone then women) an edge over female photographers and is very attractive to editors. Not only does it aid in split second decision making on location as well as going after clients and speaking in meetings it also helps men focus not only moment to moment but year after year. So while I don’t want to give women an excuse or a cop out or sound like im undermining them it is a reality and something I think about  a lot and have studied in my brief interest in evolutionary socialism/ psychology.

    Now does this fact create sexism against women who are equally talented, ball busting, hard working, decision making photographers dedicated to their practice? Absolutely, there is not question it does. Does it mean there are less of women that have what it takes to being cutting edge editorial photographers? … I hate to admit it but possibly. Should editors and other people in a postion of power give women a chance for their own benefit as well the photographers. Yes. Also I have to mention this fits in perfectly why a female would make a great editor but maybe not a photographer (speaking in generalities) because with little testosterone their attention is made available to many places and they can put together many different pieces while shifting their attention from one article to another several times possibly within an hour while working on an issue of their magazine.

    From my/our end what can we do about?…I have no idea except prove them wrong. 

    As a skateboard photographer I come across this type of thing probably more then the average person or even an average female photographer and have been asked about it in a million interviews and I say more or less the same thing every time now:

    "it doesn’t surprise me anymore. I just prove them wrong  and also prove correct the person who was willing to go out on a limb and hire the less conventional photographer and then maybe next time they are faced with a similar situation they will think twice. And if im being honest I sort of understand. If I took my truck into a mechanic and the tech who was gonna pull my clutch was a female I would be apprehensive but I’d of course never let her know that and give her the chance and hope she’s proving people wrong one broke down dodge at a time"

    In conclusion if a female wants to compete with men chock full of testosterone and aggression shes going to have to work really fucking hard. Cause if its been handed to anyone it probably wasn’t a female photographer….

    -From skateboard photographer Alana Paterson

    There is one anecdote that might be of interest. I was once contacted by a photo editor to photograph a very sensitive subject, a woman who had been abused as a child by the religious system here in Quebec. Essentially, she had been given up to nuns and gone through some bad shit in their care. And the reason I was approached to photograph this woman was because the photo editor thought I was a woman myself. She thought this both because of my name and the type of photographs I made. In the end, I couldn’t take the assignment, as I was going to be out of town when they needed me, and they asked a woman photographer friend of mine to shoot it instead (Celia Perrin Sidarous).

    -An anecdote from Alexi Hobbs

    The adage “those who can’t, teach” seems to apply in our industry if you replace teach with “edit”. It seems to be a common, unspoken perception that some people choose to go into photo editing instead of shooting because it is easier to break into, provides health insurance, a steady paycheck, etc etc. I’ve always sort of secretly wondered if so many women end up editing not because they “can’t” but because nobody actually let them shoot. Maybe they subconsciously looked around and saw few, if any opportunities for themselves and so made the decision to go into photo editing.

    Once again, I don’t really believe this whole “those who can’t teach” thing but I’m just expressing a sentiment I’ve heard in various circles. I’m also addressing my own biases. Without realizing it I can sort of equate being a photo editor to a fallback job. That is my own arrogance obviously coming into play. Obviously some people set out to be photo editors and they are damn good at it. 

    I just can’t help but think though, that if there were more opportunities for females straight out of college, they would be assisting, studio managing, etc etc instead of getting internships at magazines.There HAS to be a reason magazines are populated with significantly more women than men in the same way that there HAS to be a reason that men vastly outnumber women in editorial photography.

    -An anonymous working photographer

    (Source: danielshea)

     
  13. danielshea:

    Gillian Wearing, Self Portrait as My Uncle, 2003

    On Sexism in Editorial Photography

    Disclaimer: I am a white, cis male photographer. I don’t claim to speak for anyone but myself or those I’ve been in direct conversation with. In this post I will reflect more broadly and hypothesize, but I can only speak to my own experience. I end up talking a lot about myself in this post because that’s my point of entry into this issue and it’s the only way I know how to talk about it. It’s not total narcissism, it’s just what I know. This post is meant to initiate a broader conversation and nothing would make me happier to have many different types of people call bullshit on the things I’m saying and setting the record straight. So please, reblog, repost, rewrite, respond. 

    It would seem that the biggest magazines with the most hiring power hire mostly male photographers. This post is meant to begin a discussion on the how’s and why’s of sexism in the commissioned photography world. Note that this is very specifically about editorial/commercial photography, and not the art world or fine art photography world (although those questions and concerns are totally valid and should be addressed!).

    It seems that magazines tend to hire more men than women, and I want to reflect on the conditions that support (willingly or unwillingly) this tendency. My perspective on the issue is somewhat limited; I’ve been working in the industry for only five years and most of my friends that do this work are men (by virtue of the fact that I was in a group of friends that were all friends when we started doing this work (Adam, Jake, Joe and TJ initially, and the circle grew over the years with Geordie, Thomas, Ryan and others)). I believe that I am complicit in the inequality precisely because I am friends with mostly men that do this kind of work and we tend to present ourselves as a crew of available freelancers, a tight circle of friends. 

    I identify as a feminist, and have always felt a strong obligation to inquire about perceived imbalances in my most immediate worlds, this being a major one that I participate in. Not only do I participate in it, but it’s how I make money. This is about a power imbalance made more complicated by its very direct relationship to capital. It’s been weighing heavily on me for awhile and I’ve been talking about it with friends, but when it came up again recently in a conversation with Liz, I decided to reach out to photo editors and magazines to ask for their perspective and insight. I also started a dialog with my core group of photo friends to get their perspective. Here is some of the issues we are working with, and I’d like to open it up to the community at large:

    -A couple photo editors mentioned that they just didn’t know female photographers that fit the aesthetic of their magazine. To me this a chicken and the egg situation - a lot of male photographers that consistently work for magazines have developed an aesthetic specifically in response to those clients. There’s no apparent reason why a woman wouldn’t respond the same way. To further complicate this issue, one editor mentioned that most media, art and literature is made to fit a masculine perspective, and perhaps that’s why men are more “apt” at photographing that content. Again, not my opinion necessarily, but a perspective that was brought to my attention.

    -On the other side of aesthetic content is the logistical management of shoots. In my own personal experience shooting high-profile people and situations, shoots can get tense quickly, and you have to be able to be aggressive and assertive in a time-crunch situation. That is in no way meant to suggest that women can’t do that, but here is where sexism rears its ugly head - if women are perceived as being less able to handle those situations, that can definitely factor into the decision to hire men. 

    -On a similar note, many people enter the industry through assisting. I’ve heard through many people that it’s very difficult to get consistent assisting work as a woman because of blatantly sexist and untrue bullshit (male photographers suggesting that they don’t want to hire women because they can’t keep up physically or emotionally). 

    -Something that a couple of editors across different magazines mentioned to me, and always with a preface of “this is so painful to admit,” is that men are more aggressive about establishing new clients. This involves everything from emailing, to setting up meetings, to their behavior in those meetings. I’m going to play devil’s advocate here again and point out that this is paradigmatic - if men are being hired, it’s clear to other men that they can do this line of work. It encourages them to be aggressive. A woman who is new to the industry might be discouraged by what she sees as a hiring imbalance and that might reflect in her being less aggressive about getting the work. Again, I don’t know if any of this is true or not, I’m just trying to work it out. 

    -Most photo editors I know are women. I haven’t taken a hard survey, but it seems very likely that an overwhelming majority of photo editors everywhere are women. A couple female photo editors that I talked to mentioned, albeit skeptically, that maybe this is because women are “natural nurturers” and the hirer/hired power would then break down as women/men, respectively. There also seems to be a lot more women at ad agencies, photo agencies, and in creative positions. I’d be curious to see a snapshot of the industry more broadly, to see if the gender disparity is more broadly pervasive. But irregardless, the face of the content being produced, the actual photographs, are shot by photographers, who tend to be male and who have the most visible position in this kind of exchange. 

    -I’m personally skeptical of the nurturer explanation. This is my opinion, but I think larger systems of oppression, like sexism and misogyny, replicate themselves very effectively on smaller scales. You see this in niche industries and subcultures all the time, even when there are progressive attitudes and a general self-awareness about inequality. I strongly believe that at the end of the day, the magazine world is sexist because of…sexism!

    -When reflecting on all of our photo college programs, at least half of our classmates were women. So at the point of entry into the field, there was no perceived gender disparity.

    -I am partially to blame. My friends are partially to blame. We identify as a crew of hirable people in a spirit of collectivism but in a perverse twist, we are complicit in the lack of visibility for new female photographers. If we are all white dudes shooting for the same magazines and repping each other’s work (on visible platforms like Tumblr), how do people get added to that mix? On some level, this is exactly what we wanted; our strategy of promotion was meant to be antithetical to the crass “me me me,” properieity, self-promoting trends that we perceived in the industry a few years ago. I came from DIY punk and it always made sense to help your friends and work collectively. That serves the greater good and yourself in the long run. But it has back-fired, and now that we are all working consistently, our scope is too narrow. We haven’t done a good job of including women, and when new people have entered the circle, it’s been other white men. I also don’t mean to suggest that we are getting all the work or we are the most visible working magazine photographers, because that’s actually not even close to true, but we have created an internal echo-chamber without being self-aware about it. That’s something we can change. 

    -Magazines took a risk with me at some point, and for a lot of my friends. There was no “clear” reason I should have been hired on those initial assignments. And that’s the beauty of photo editing. A good photo editor will recognize the potential in someone’s work that can translate to a really interesting assignment. Why are more magazines not taking that kind of risk with women? 

    ***

    These are some of the issues. Now we have to consider solutions, and that’s where I think putting this out to the community can have the most effective influence. Currently a group of us are working on a list of killer women photographers that would do great work for magazines (while being very aware of our position as potential validators of this list). I’ll post that soon as a resource to photo editors and creatives who are looking to hire more women. There are other issues that are somewhat related - are there enough queer photographers working, or photographers of color? In attempt not to conflate all of those things into one (the totalizing effect of “other-ing” everyone who is not white, cis male, straight), I’ve made this post specifically about sexism. But obviously those issues are real and I hope others will talk about them. 

    And maybe an obvious solution is to put forth a challenge to those with hiring power - hire women. As much as you hire men. Or more. 

    And to other male photographers that are working today (and women of course) - support female photographers, recommend them for work when you can’t take a job, hire young women to assist who are entering the field so that they can get experience. 

    So look for that list of links soon. And I’m also talking to a few other photo editors about doing more formal interviews/discussions which will be posted online. 

    Thanks for reading, keep the conversation going!

    I studied Film Production in college and since then I’ve been trying to make the transition from video editing to photography. I’ve completely felt the impact of sexism- from all ends. From being told “you are good assistant editor, but women tend to be more nurturing to clients rather than to the actual editing”- to being turned down for on set jobs because they were afraid I couldn’t handle the job “physically.” Even in film school, crewing up, both guys and girls would tend to ask the girls to produce, set deign, and edit - but when it came to DPing or gaffing, almost always they asked a guy. An older female student said to me, “women tend to be more organized than the guys, they make good producers. It’s compliment.” So while our industry is mainly me, this is impacted by everyone.  
    With all that said… I think your post was wonderful! A big part of righting a wrong is stating the ugly parts, despite how complicated the issue. It’s important for everyone to hear the thoughts on why the industry is so male dominated, since we can’t begin to fix if we don’t know where the problem starts. And despite what backlash you seem to have received, I actually think it’s important to have all opinions and perspectives involved- so please keep it up! 
    We tend to treat these types issues as if they only impact a woman’s life, and therefore we’re the only one’s that should be able talk about it or even attempt to fix it- which is just untrue and adding to the problem. It’s not a woman’s issue, this is very much so a problem for everyone. 
    I think a practical solution is what you’ve already stated… hiring power needs to change. Hiring someone based on their portfolio and not on their gender. People need to take some chances on the younger gals, get them in the game. I’ve been looking to assist a photographer for some time and it’s damn hard to get people, especially dudes, to give you a chance. I get it, people want to work with someone they vibe with- most often that’s someone of the same gender but if we’re ever going to balance this whole world out, people have to make the sometimes uncomfortable choice. But hey, if we’re artists, isn’t the uncomfortable choice the obvious one. 
    Thanks for you thoughts! Looking forward to more. Keep up the conversation. 

    (Source: danielshea, via camp-wilson)

     
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