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.
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.”
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):
7/24 (29.17%) women
17/24 (70.83%) men
Canon Explorers of Light
8/40 (20%) women
32/40 (80%) men
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.
2/12 (16.67%) women
10/12 (83.33%) men
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.
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.