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News & Insight

Nikon Has A Fellowship of 32 D850 Photographers – Not A Single Woman Among Them. Why?

By Brittany Smith on September 14th 2017

Nikon has cherry picked 32 professional photographers across Africa, Asia, Australia and the Middle East to embark upon the exciting journey of testing out their newest offering, the Nikon D850 – and not a single woman was included among them.

This post has been removed from their Instagram account.

One of the first reactions, as evidenced by their Instagram post comments, is that of outrage, naturally. Both @nikonmea and @nikonasia came under rabid fire for their lack of diversity and @nikonmea has since removed the post with their fellowship of 32 male photographers from Instagram. When questioned online, @nikonasia responded:

“Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Appreciate the support from our photography community to see better participation from female photographers as well. Our photographers’ meet was organised to share our latest innovation with our community – whom we truly value and respect. Unfortunately, the female photographers we had invited for this meet were unable to attend, and we acknowledge that we had not put enough of a focus on this area. We want to thank the community for raising this and challenging us to do more to support the creative talent of our female photographer community. Enabling the creativity of our community sits at the very heart of Nikon and we will continue to keep improving on our innovation and our support for you.”

– NikonAsia

To say the least, this response is disheartening. Things seem to be a bit better stateside, but marginally. NikonUSA has been proactive and included photographers Dixie Dixon and Brittany Leigh in some of the Nikon D850 discussion among some of the men. In fact, Dixie Dixon is constantly at the front of the pack when it comes to Nikon.

Seeing all of this, however, begs a question be asked: how many women are being represented as brand ambassadors for major camera companies? Here’s what was found (US reps):

Nikon Ambassadors
7/24 (29.17%) women
17/24 (70.83%) men

Canon Explorers of Light
8/40 (20%) women
32/40 (80%) men

Sony Artisans*
6/49 (12.24%) women
43/49 (87.76%) men
*One of the 48 ambassadors is a team (man and woman duo), thus rounded to 49.

Olympus Visionaries
2/12 (16.67%) women
10/12 (83.33%) men

Hasselblad Ambassadors*

0/7 (0%) women

7/7 (100%) men

* One of the 6 US ambassadors is a duo, both men.

Do men really make up 70-90% of the photographic community?

According to a 2015 issue of DigitalPro Magazine 51% of the professional photographer community was now comprised of women, making it closer to a 50-50 split than ever before. So, why are so few women represented in the industry at large, and why is Nikon’s global representation so skewed?

PDN reported earlier this month that sexism is alive and well in the industry across the board, especially in photojournalism and fine art. When asked why more women weren’t booked for assignments, photo editors responded by saying it is risky to take a chance on something new when something has been proven for so long while another states that they have a difficult time finding strong female photographers in general to fit the bill.

Are women grossly underrepresented in the industry?

The short answer is yes and the exact reasoning behind it is unknown. A great place to start would be to pose the question and ask “Why?”

It is entirely possible, although unlikely, that the brands have approached women and they have declined. Or perhaps those making decisions in photography continue to be predominantly men. Again, the question is why? Regardless, it is apparent that we need to see more women being represented in the industry now more than ever before.

[REWIND: HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH JENNIFER LAWRENCE | THE SET-UP, THE GEAR, THE APPROACH & MENTALITY]

Nikon USA is rather progressive by including more women in their lineup of ambassadors when compared to a more global representation as a whole. They continue to have a significant lead in the percentage of women ambassadors and it would be great if Nikon could continue adding more to their lineup, influencing the industry collectively. Choosing to exclude women from a fellowship of 32 photographers by Nikon Asia was a catastrophic mistake. With outcries of sexism on their heels, Nikon is going to continue feeling the wrath of this controversy until they fairly rectify the situation by including more women. There are plenty of incredible women photographers to choose from.

Brittany is a fashion and beauty photographer who works between NYC, Montana and LA. She photographs the way she has always wanted to feel and believes in the power of raw simplicity. When not behind a camera she can usually be found at a local coffeeshop, teaching fitness classes at the YMCA, or baking something fabulous in the kitchen.
Instagram: @brittanysmithphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Felix Wu

    Majority of “celebrity” female photographers shoot with Canon? Maybe most of them dislike the all black colour in Nikon? In my own experience, most female photographers do shoot with Canon, with mostly have preference in those prime lenses Canon is famous for. Nikon’s design do appeal to men more IMO.

    And I am not surprised there’s no female in Hasselblad…it’s damn heavy a camera! 

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    • Brittany Smith

      I do love my prime Canon glass, but I much prefer the ergonomics and menus of Nikon. And I’d absolutely carry around the beast that Hasselblad has to offer when my bank account allows it. I’m actually hoping to move into the X1D market sooner than later. 

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  2. Kyle Stauffer

    Statistics don’t always point to causality and too many times, people jump to conclusions without appropriate investigation. I’m not in the slightest saying it doesn’t happen. In this case there
    could be all kinds of factors and reasons, especially the locations. How many women make up that area of
    photographers and how many would realistically be able to participate in that part of the world for various reasons? Perhaps the real story could be less about Nikon, and more about the location these female photographers live. 

    Rowan gave a great argument as to why a company would not purposely do this…. “Failing to do so will impact their bottom line”. Ironically, I’ve seen many companies that go out of their way to make a public statement of their equality agenda for one
    thing, are actually the ones more likely to be unethically bias in another. 

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  3. Steinar Knai

    To me this is simply a non issue. If you look at who has been reviewing the D850 on You Tube, half of them are women and the best one is done by Snap chick and the Northrup couple. Yes, Nikon Asia should have made sure that there was female representation on that panel, but don’t condemn Nikon in general for that.  

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  4. Khandie Khisses

    I find it crazy that the ‘women didnt attend’ is an excuse. So basically we picked from those that showed up…not ones we actually intended to give the cameras to…I never quite understand how you can singularly pick 32 men when as evidence suggests its a more 50/50 split of sex in photography. How many women did they invite? One or two? also surely if you loved their work you would not settle for another photographer you didnt rate? Or perhaps write ‘not pictured XYZ photographers’
    As for sexism yes it exists. From trade shows where my male partner is replied to even when I have asked the questions, to shoots where I am questioned if I can cope with all the men or bloody products aimed at the ‘female photographer’ in pinks and florals or worse when you go to buy something and they ask is it for your dad etc. Go to lectures and seminars and its largely men with women mainly in the child, fashion and newborn side, if at all. Im not asking women to be picked because they are women. I am asking how is it statically possible that women arent picked more when 50% of photographers have a vagina?

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  5. Rowan Williams

    Brilliant article ands thanks for sharing all the stats. I wrote a similar blog post and shared stats on the UK professional photography market gender split and found it to be between 25%-45% female (depending on the data source). Prof Anna Fox of UCA has also researched this area and estimates that 80% of all photography university graduates are women. The industry may well be male dominated for the time being but it’s changing very fast and companies like Nikon need to wake up and start thinking about diversity. Failing to do so will impact their bottom line – Forbes estimate that gender diverse organisations outperform their competitors by 15%, and racially diverse organisations do even better at 35%. You can read my blog post and review data sources here: http://www.parrotandpineapple.com/women-in-the-photography-industry/

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