If the general public were asked to list influential and iconic Australian photographers from the last 100 years, the list would include very few female photographers.
Even when researching online, the only comprehensive historical list of noted Australian female photographers, is on Trove, as part of the National Library of Australia and most of them, though obviously talented enough to be listed, are generally unknown.
On September 25th 2015, the United Nations adopted a sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. They list gender equality as their 5th goal with 1-4 goals being: no poverty, no hunger, good health and wellbeing and a good education.
In 2015 The CoUNTess Report documented gender inequality within the arts in Australia, and all though not specifically photography it shows generally women under represented.
In 2014 it was noted that on Wikipedia that generally only 15% of biographies and articles were about women. With the help of a group called Wiki Women In Red, that it is now 17.3%.
The IBIS Report of 2011 stated that 70% of photographers needed a second form of income to survive. Photography, however has become a second income for many people due to its accessibility and one that more and more women have embraced more recently as a part-time venture. The digital revolution has enabled many more people to create photography, especially women yet we are still under-represented. More women graduate from tech courses and art school than their male counterparts.
Recently, with the outpouring of the #metoo sexual harassment social media campaign, gender equality has become ‘mainstream’ and much talked about.
As women, we need to work together collectively to change history, to ensure our stories are being told. Inequality in all aspects of our lives affects how, when and if our stories get told.
History has been written by men, art has been made by men, galleries have collected art made by men and until recently photographers were mostly male.
The Loud and Luminous’ intention is to open up the conversation of gender diversity within the photographic community, in Australia, to advocate for change, to suggest good strategy and policy implemented across all sectors to ensure that women are represented and considered for all types of roles within the visual media sector. We need to see change in education, industry representative bodies, collectives and agencies, government bodies seeking tenders, in gallery representation and curation, speaking events and conferences, mainstream media and press, publishing, cultural institutions and in the business of commercial photography, across all genres.
The conversation must include both genders and non-binary members of our community, across all cultures, states and territories.
“The idea that the liberal feminist notion of empowerment and change through equal opportunities, equal employment, and equal voice – but within existing social structures and media systems – may not provide everything that is needed for a reformed, different vision of women. The conclusion seems to provide more support for the social feminist idea that in order for a new vision to grow, more substantial, systemic change my need to occur at many levels in society.” https://prezi.com/b66manckzzmy/gender-in-photography/
So sadly the two main barriers that women face:
Difference in Leadership styles
Photographic/Visual Media/Photographic Fine Arts Inequality
Mentoring and Education
Creative live : 17% of ‘teachers’ on Creative Live Photography are women. 0% teach Lightroom and 0% teach commercial photography. The best representation is portraits, including photographing children, in which there are 50% women
Tertiary Education in Australia via Broad Agenda
In the USA Daniella Zalcman started WomenPhotograph in response to the very low rate of women photojournalists being used in mainstream media. Fiona Rogers, another photojournalist started Firecracker with the same intent.
Advertising agencies in Australia have a very low percentage of female Art Directors <30%, which does not bode well for contracting female commercial photographers.
Events and Conferences across all industry
Speakers at any industry events across Australia 2015, found that from 18 events audited there were 684 speakers with 182 of them being women – or 27%. In 2016 – from 17 events audited there were 557 speakers with 201 of them being women – or 36% http://www.mediascope.com.au/women-in-media-event-gender-audit
The AIPP Lenscape Conference this year has 33% women speakers but overall only 30% contributors to their program.
Travel photography workshops are mainly run by men in Australia and that is very much illustrated in the recent Australian Photography Travel issue where all photographers advertised in the magazine are male.
Newborn and Birth Photography is predominantly female business owners. The charity Heartfelt (Professional photographer volunteers who photograph families suffering stillbirth and terminally ill children) is overwhelmingly female based, though some of the executive are male. This make me ask why?
Which leads us into Leadership Roles within the Photographic Industry, that is heavily biased towards men. This could be because the retailers or owners of major camera brands are predominantly male, also.
● The Nikon D850 Professionals include 32 male photographers listed and no female professional photographer (at time of publication).
● There are no Nikon Australia Ambassadors who are women, 7 men, though I do believe this is changing in 2018.
● There are 2/8 Canon Collective Ambassadors who are women.
● Leica Akademie have 3 photographers in Australia, none of which are women.
● Olympus Visionaries in Australia number 5, one of which is a woman.
● Hasselblad have 13 Ambassadors worldwide (1 in Australia who is male). There are 3 women photographer Ambassadors.
● Sony Ambassadors in Australia total 5 men, no women
● Panasonic have 17 Ambassadors worldwide, one of which is a woman
Photographers Collectives Australia
Pool Collective _
2 out of 7 are women
2/9 are women
2/10 are women
The Light Collective
0/5 are women
Verge Art Collective _
6/6 are women
8/8 are women
12/12 are women
*Formed in 2017
Metro 1/12 are women 8%
Prime ⅙ are women 15%
Aevum ¼ are women 25%
Razon ¼ are women 25%
Luceo 0/6 are women 0%
MJR ⅙ are women 15%
Boreal 0/5 are women 0%
So to initiate change we need to:
- Put it on the agenda of the leaders / CEO’s / Boards / Industry Bodies
- Establish a diversity Council
- Do an audit & get serious
- Develop policies & procedures
- Manage and promote culture change
But how can we change the situation when when the governing bodies of the Arts and Recreation Sector in Australia is predominantly male when employment in the sector is fickle and favours casual and contractor based employment and most employers in the sector are micro to small sized.
“Collectively across all genders we must see that “by better understanding the financial benefits of investing in diversity and overcoming misconceptions and biases, more businesses could have more gender diversity in their workforces. But this is only the beginning of the journey. To fully access these benefits, we need to move beyond tokenism and headcount measures of diversity, and continue to make our workplaces more inclusive, so that everyone’s opinions and contributions are respected, valued, and encouraged.”
Loud and Luminous recognises and celebrates the extensive cultural contribution of contemporary women photographers in Australia, culminating with an exhibition and symposium on International Women’s Day 2018. We believe it is essential for women to contribute and tell their stories to shape our future. The project’s intent is simple; to inspire and empower all women to chase their dreams, make a better world and celebrate each other.
This collaboration features fifty-six women with the same photographic brief, which resulted in fifty-six unique interpretations. Photographers were required to reference a universal women’s icon in their photographic work. This could be done through including an icon, or referencing its shape and form through a visual statement. Each of the 56 submitted images are all very different and cover the many aspects of being a woman, as seen by women.
While this is an Australian initiative, we believe this project extends internationally in its message and appeal on gender equality and empowerment. This is an inclusive discussion that celebrates diversity, and promotes cultural change. As women we need to work together to change the future and to ensure all our stories are being told.
We want to encourage a positive and meaningful dialogue on equality and to start conversations that lead to policy change to ensure that women are represented and considered for all roles. Cultural change requires the support of all stakeholders across all genres, and it is collectively and individually our social responsibility.
This is a global issue and we need a collective voice to respond.