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Opinion

Surviving & Thriving As A Woman In The Photography Industry

By Shivani Reddy on February 27th 2019

It’s been exactly 10 years since I picked up my very first DSLR. After learning techniques from a slew of books, online tutorials, mentors, and mistakes, I find myself here, still learning every day, still fighting for this to be my profession.

When I was starting out in this industry, I didn’t have a plethora of female role models readily available in my area or online that I could look up to and seek advice from. It wasn’t until getting hired here at SLRLounge when I realized how many outstanding female photographers there were that were going unnoticed simply due to being outnumbered. Through my experiences in the wedding photography industry as a female photographer, I’ve learned five incredibly important lessons that I hope young girls and women new to this industry find helpful:

Tip #1: Get Technical

Listen, this age-old myth that women aren’t technical—or are only natural light shooters because they fear flash—deserves to be in tossed into the garbage along with any other stereotypical nonsense that women have to hear. There are WAY too many free and paid resources online for any photographer to learn a technique. To my ladies reading this, I know you know your gear and what settings you need to use. Don’t let words deter you from displaying your competence in your technical abilities.

Looking for some of the best photo education online? Here are our favorite resources:

SLR Lounge Premium
FStoppers Tutorials
Retouching Academy
Phlearn
The Slanted Lens

Tip #2: Be Detail Oriented

Let’s face it, as women photographing women, we tend to be a bit more detail-oriented to begin with. We know how we like to look, we know what angles make us insecure, and we watch out for the minute details like stray hairs or bra straps showing; it’s basically written into our DNA. Use this to your advantage when posing brides or models because as much as men have experience photographing women, they will never be one at the end of the day and know what makes them uncomfortable.

Tip #3: Be Assertive

I hate that the word assertive is often associated with a negative connotation. I think it’s a myth that every person in a service-based industry needs to be an extrovert. I believe that it’s much more valuable to understand people and what makes them tick rather than be personable and outgoing (i.e: be the smartest person in the room, not the loudest). Often times, when I’m photographing weddings with a team full of men, planners and other vendors approach the men first and assume that they are leads or are in-charge. Just be forward, extend your hand, and tell them who’s boss, literally.

Tip #4: Have Each Other’s Backs!

Thought = effort. Harnessing negative energy and spewing hate comments at other women is actually tiring and stressing you out. Think of how much easier it would be to offer constructive criticism and be positive towards your fellow female counterparts. We are already discriminated against, why do we need to do it to each other? If there is anything that you take away from this video or article, let it be that you should be kinder to one another. Introduce yourself to women in your FB groups, give them resources and help them navigate because I sure as hell wish I had someone like that when I came in.

Tip #5: Don’t Compare Yourself To Everyone In This Industry

Competition is healthy, to a certain extent. There will always be someone that is taking better pictures than you, bringing in more clients per month, or shooting where you want to shoot. Community is greater than competition,  and while it’s beneficial to set standards and goals, never use someone else’s career as a benchmark of your success.

Like many industries in this world, the photography industry has a pretty terrible track record for equality. Up until recent years, men dominated the industry, encompassing roughly 60-70% of the photographer workforce. While the numbers have come closer to evening out, the representation and recognition women have amongst industry professionals is nowhere near where it needs to be. Sony launched its Alpha Female collective in 2018 while Nikon had an embarrassing 2017 when they selected an all-male squad of pro photographers to represent the D850. This is an on-going, uphill battle that should be made apparent to all of us looking to grow and expand the boundaries of our industry.

Here are some of the unbelievably talented women I have been inspired by through my photography journey:

India Earl
Mili Ghosh
Brittany Smith
Sabina Mladin
Erika Mann
Lea Sabban
Charmi Patel Pena
Rimi Sen
Tara

To all of the inspiring female photographers reading this, apply to be a writer here at SLR Lounge so your voices can be heard and your art can be seen.

 

 

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Shivani wants to live in a world where laughter is the cure to pretty much everything. Since she can’t claim “Serial Bingewatcher” as an occupation, she’ll settle for wedding/portrait photographer at Lin and Jirsa & marketing coordinator here at SLR Lounge. For those rare moments when you won’t find a camera in her hand, she will be dancing, eating a donut, or most likely watching Seinfeld.

Follow her on Instagram: @shivalry_inc

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Boudewijn J.M. Kegels

    Only one female photographer so far cought my eye as being extraordinary. She is from Canada, Calgary, mainly works with female models and natural light and never thought me anything new on technological level. Nevertheless i respect her talents highly “even if she is typical female”. She is inspiring for me, bringing out female beauty. Now i would like to see a woman concentrating on male photography, since too many men took female beauty as their subject.

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  2. Bill Wells

    Some of the very best photographers –  Are women. 

     Some of best the teachers of photography and techniques – Are women.

    At least when it comes to Wedding and Portrait photography.  

    I’m talking the best in the world!!! 

     If what I have said so far is true, and it is.  Why this article? 

    It just seems like I hear or read about how,  the sexes are equal.  That there is no male or female “gender”.  It’s gender “X”.  That women don’t “need” help.  That they are the same as a male. 

    Again, if this is true and we hear it everyday, why this. 

    Why not a more general article that applies to all.  I even think some women may take offense being told they have special needs.

    I support, respect and appreciate women in this industry.  I have to,  because most are much better at this profession than me.  Many of the photographers that are looked up to today are women.

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    • Shivani Reddy

      Hey Bill, 

      This article and video were made to bring more awareness to the lack of representation and recognition women receive in this industry, not to set them apart or differentiate between the two sexes. 

      And while you may feel that some of the very best in wedding and portrait photography are women, there are differing opinions online and the goal here was to bring more eyes to female photographers that are unseen or overshadowed by many in the photography industry. 

      Although my experiences stem from the wedding niche, there have been many incredible women speaking out about their experiences in studio, commercial, real-estate, landscape, and other niches of photography that we can’t just ignore simply because women “dominate” the wedding field in numbers. 

      I am grateful that you support women, but I ask that re-watch with a fresh perspective and not to look at this as a divisive article but more so one to bring awareness to the many women who feel the same way. 

       

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    • Julie Boyd

      This is an article and video designed to empower women who may have experienced discrimination in the photography industry. Sexism exists, and while we want to be treated equally to men, we are not. Just because you have not participated in it, or witnessed it, does not mean it is not out there. The article and video are not an attack on men.  It was not made for you, is was made for women, and specifically, “young girls and women new to the industry.” I love this video, and I am proud of Shivani and the SLR lounge team for creating content that raises awareness about this important issue. 

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