I know I usually keep to posting photos on this blog (and that lately I have definitely been slacking off) but this issue upset me so much that I felt the need to write a response.
Today I received an email from Photo District News announcing their new magazine. It’s called “Pix.” It’s a new “Photography Lifestyle Magazine for Women.” My heart sank as soon as I read the label. “Lifestyle” is never a good sign. The introduction notes that I’m probably “artsy.” The more I read, the more depressed I became. In each issue, I was promised that I would find find “tips, ideas, products and trend reports for women in photography.”
Basically, this magazine is a combination of product placement, fluff articles, and lens flare. It’s a sad excuse to make money off of a group of people the rest of the photography world already doesn’t respect. Pix recommends what mascara to wear while working. It will enlighten me on the joy of photographing newborns. One of the subheadings is labeled “Wallflowers” and there’s an entire article devoted to couples. I can even decorate my lenses and buy cute camera straps!
Here’s the problem: whoever decided to publish this has no idea what my “lifestyle” is. It isn’t about make-up. It’s not about decorating my lens and it’s definitely not about being a wallflower.
So, for those who are looking for the truth, this is what it is like to be a female photographer:
My favorite lens is chipped, my back is sore, my feet are blistered. In the past year, I have been in a car accident, been bitten by fire ants, missed many, many meals, and become incredibly sleep-deprived. I work a full-time film and production job and spend my free time trying to finish my master’s degree. I walk over a mile every day, usually more. I carry pounds of equipment on my back. Every single scratch on my lens and dent on my camera gives me pride because it means I have endured. My coffee addiction is getting out of control.
I am not “artsy,” I am an artist.
In December, I went to a film screening with a male peer of mine. He was treated professionally, but I was asked if I was a “groupie.” I don’t know if the man who said that merely meant that I was tagging along and pretending to be a filmmaker or if he actually thought I was sleeping with one of the men in the room, but either way, it’s one of the worst things anyone has ever said to me. It stung more because he was the one who organized the screening.
I have driven through Death Valley alone at night in a car with the warning light blinking, with over $3,000 of equipment in the trunk in an area with no cell service. Never, for one second, did I wonder, “Is my neck strap adorable enough? What if my lens isn’t cute enough?”
I do not photograph babies. I do not shoot weddings. I resent it when people assume I do simply because I was born a woman.
Women in photography have it hard enough as it is. I have spent hours commiserating with other women over being overlooked. Some female photographers have to worry about being assaulted or raped, yet now that someone decided to make a magazine for us, it doesn’t deal with any of that. Give me self-defense tips, advice on how to protect my camera in sub-zero temperatures, and directions on how to waterproof my backpack.
I buy the same cameras, the same backpacks, and in some cases, the same shoes as my peers of the opposite sex. And trust me, I can shoot and edit as well as they can and in the end, that is all that should matter.