Surviving & Thriving As A Woman In The Photography Industry
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:
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:
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.