The Scandal That's Ruining the Photographic Industry

The Scandal That's Ruining the Photographic Industry

Have you noticed the bigotry towards women in the photographic industry? It's there and I feel partly to blame. But some camera manufacturers and big photography businesses are the worst offenders.

Some while ago, I was approached by a moderately well-known photography business here in the UK. They wanted me to become a brand representative. I wrote back and said I would be happy to so long as there was equality within their ambassador team; I knew there wasn’t. Adding another white, middle-aged man to their ambassadors would do nothing to address that, and I didn’t want to be associated with a business that promoted inequality, even if it were passive and unintentional. I didn't hear back from them.

That made me look at other brands’ lists of ambassadors. The inequality across the board was shocking.

The person in this photo has incredible photographic talent. If she turned professional, she is likely to face absurd barriers for no other reason other than she is a woman.

Roughly comparing the split between men and women who are photographers globally, around 40% are women and 60% are men. I did a similar comparison ten or so years ago, and the percentage of women is increasing. I hasten to add it was not a scientific survey, just counting the members of each sex in photography social media groups, but it’s a reasonable guideline. Even so, we should be aiming for a 50/50 split between men and women in prominent positions as that is where the proportions of male and female photographers are heading.

In America there are thirty-nine women out of 141 photographers on Sony’s ambassador list, that’s just 27%. However, of their ninety-eight European ambassadors here in Europe, there are only ten women. In Asia only two of the fourteen ambassadors are women. Sony, you should be ashamed

Perhaps if powerful camera manufacturers perpetuate a culture of inequality, we should start to shun them.

Sony is not alone. Canon, for example, announced a list of ambassadors in the Philippines, and they were all male. A despicable act that, as far as I can see, they are not apologizing for. This, despite Alex Cooke’s article published here on Fstoppers highlighting the issue of over-representation by white men in the industry. That article was published over five years ago.

This really should not be an issue in the modern world. Snubbing women should have been eradicated along with the regimes that promoted misogyny, on top of their other evil practices, in the 1940s.

Does it bother you that Canon have shown what appear to be misogynistic decisions in their ambassadorial choices.

There really is no difference between the photographic abilities of women and men. In fact, when I count the most talented photographers I know personally, more than half of them are women. Furthermore, there are many internationally renowned female photographers. That is reflected in the Fstoppers photographer of the month that has an unintentional fifty percent split between the sexes. There are, of course, non-binary photographers too.

So, what is happening in the industry that gives us shameful statistics? Is it down to misogyny, or is there more to it than that?

There is an undeniable problem of men who hate women in the industry. One only looks at the despicable and sickening comments left on our women writers’ articles to know this is the case. There is a long history of internet trolls belittling, insulting, and bullying women. Read this excellent article by Kate G that highlighted the issue of discrimination against women, and then read the atrocious comments below.  Thankfully, those making such foul statements are now removed from this site and their accounts closed.

There is little doubt in my mind that misogyny is to blame. Especially so when you hear the stories the women have had to face from men. Including this world-class sports photographer being passed over for promotion because of bigotry that was both highlighted and perpetuated by her manager.

There's no question you have the skill or the work ethic, but the guys would never go to have you as their boss – you know how they are.

Or when photographing a sports event she was told, 

Put your camera down and go stand at the finish line. You're just here to be the reward for the racers.


You don't look like a sports photographer.

Why am I keeping her anonymous? To avoid the hate she is likely to receive as a result.

Most brands have had or still have issues. On the Nikon website, only five of their twenty-five European ambassadors are women. In the Middle East, there are none. In the USA, they do much better. Of their thirty-four ambassadors, fourteen are women, which represents 40% of photographers, approximately in line with the number of female photographers there are currently. About a quarter of Lumix’s ambassadors are women.

One of the most talented and creative young photographic artists I know. Her ambitions within the industry are likely to be restricted unless we all work towards a cultural change within the industry.

Shockingly, I could count fewer than twenty women out of the hundred or so Magnum photographers.

I would even start to respect these companies if they held up their hands and admitted they had got it wrong and said what they were doing to redress that.

They are not all bad. Leica shows ten photographers on their UK website, six of those are women. Fujifilm is highlighting that they are making their X-Photographer program more diverse and inclusive. I approached OM Systems, they are undertaking a complete reorganization too, and I look forward to seeing the results of that as it's the brand I use the most.

I spoke to Tianna Williams, the Nikon Z Creator here in the UK, another amazing talent whose work I admire. She is quite optimistic that things are changing.

There is a certain change moving through the industry but in terms of recognition I think there is work to be done. There can still be a feeling of photography being an ‘old boys club’ and some genres such as sports and wildlife continue to convey that. However I think if we look hard enough and in the right places, there are incredible female photographers doing their thing! That is always a joy to see. 

Is it always deliberate and active prejudice by the organizations? Not wanting to appear hypocritical, I checked the numbers here at Fstoppers. Sure enough, there were far fewer women writers than expected. I found it strange because I know this is at odds with the nature of our community of writers and editors. They are amazingly supportive of everyone, and misogyny and prejudice of any kind are universally abhorred here. So, I asked Alex Cooke, our Editor-in-Chief, and he told me that it is difficult to keep women writers because of the nature of the comments that happen in the articles.

It’s a constant struggle for me. I try to hire as many women as possible, and we actually had several more a year or two ago, but they unfortunately left. I’ve been told at least once that the atmosphere in the comments and the like have discouraged someone from continuing. I simply don’t get a lot of applications from women, which makes it tremendously difficult.

I then looked at several other major photography websites, and women are greatly outnumbered on all except DXOMark. Interestingly, they don’t give the name of the writer of their articles. Consequently, the women cannot be targeted by sexist bullies as they have been elsewhere.

Are you and I to blame for this bigoted culture? Yes! Why? Even if we all despise that form of hatred – most people do – how many of us read bigoted comments and bother to challenge them?

I did on that one of Kate's, but I am sure there must have been comments I’ve seen in the past that I have not challenged.

Historically, all the brands have failed when it comes to equality. There have been improvements, but there is a long way to go. Do you check the ethical credentials of the gear you buy? Would you help pressure them into helping build a fairer world? If not, you have a problem.

So, this is a request to all the good people out there, the ordinary readers who find those comments as abhorrent as I do. Let’s start calling out the bigots and bullies and showing them that their attitude is unacceptable. Not just on this site, but everywhere. Report their comments and reply to them showing them up for their ignorance. If their comments are illegal, and many are, report them to the Police. Unless we all tackle this head-on, it won’t go away.

If you are attacked online because of any status, don't be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of people who are prepared to make a stand. Additionally, remember that those who come out with those kinds of comments are usually doing so to compensate for their insecurities and inadequacies. 

We should make sure we go out of our way to offer support to all photographers, especially women. Let’s work on this until the imbalance is redressed.

Maybe we should also start voting with our feet too. Until they have actively addressed their anti-female fascism, I intend to discourage my clients from buying products made by those businesses that continue exhibiting discrimination. Manufacturers should start to feel the pain in their pockets. Maybe that is the only way to change their behavior.

I also urge my fellow writers not just here at Fstoppers, but at Petapixel, DPreview, DXOMark, and others, to highlight this and other ethical issues in their gear reviews. Talk about it on your YouTube channels, write about it on your blogs. When you review the latest release of a particular camera or lens, amongst the advantages and disadvantages we should also rate them on their equality and ethical standards.

This should not stop with the mix of sex and gender. Racial and ethnic prejudice exists in the industry too. Most ambassador schemes are split into continental blocks. So, the race and ethnicity of ambassadors in each area should roughly reflect that of the part of the world it serves. That could be a whole new article in itself.

Let us demand that the manufacturers meet the same ethical standards that most reasonable-thinking photographers have. Let us also shame those in the industry who perpetuate any kind of bigotry, especially those of us who stand by and let it happen. Finally, let's see zero tolerance of all bigotry in our own online communities.

Ivor Rackham's picture

A professional photographer, website developer, and writer, Ivor lives in the North East of England. His main work is training others in photography. He has a special interest in supporting people with their mental well-being. In 2023 he accepted becoming a brand ambassador for the OM System.

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Previous comments

That sounds like trying to oppress freedom of debate to me.

"This isn't a case of women not wanting to work in the industry, they are being prevented."
Hogwash. That assertion couldn't be further from the truth. Employers are clamoring to hire females in my corner of the photography industry.

Michael, sadly, your personal experience cannot be applied universally. Despite your assertion, the evidence points to women facing misogynistic prejudice in the industry, including those who deny it's happening.

What evidence do you have that women are being "prevented" from advancing? You can't just spout numbers, you are claiming that there's a conspiratorial effort at preventing qualified women from advancing in photography. Please provide it.

Please read some of the comments from women in the industry on this article and others that touch on this subject, and all the empirical data showing the disparity between men and women in the top roles in the industry.

Also look at the related industries where the glass ceiling is well recorded and recognised.

The disparity of numbers in the ambassadorial teams, where the photographers are headhunted and invited to join, is indicative of the issue. What other reason could there be? Are you suggesting women don't want to be ambassadors.

The big question here is why are you so determined to deny that it is happening?

Because I see a wedding and portrait industry that was completely dominated by males 20-30 years ago flipped around and dominated by women now. And as I said my industry (sports) there's more and more women shooting alongside me every season. I have no problem with either, some of the best photographers I know are women! Fantastic! But I've never heard anyone I know say that we don't want to offer any jobs or recognition to women, but much the opposite.
You keep implying a conspiracy but you've yet to produce any documented evidence of anyone purposefully preventing anyone from advancing solely based on their gender.
That link is not evidence.
Why isn't anybody complaining about the racial disparities of the National Hockey League? Do you boycott that? No? Why not? Because you know there are legitimate cultural reasons behind certain disparities and NOT a vast conspiracy to keep others down.

Would it be reasonable to argue that a fewer percentage of women photographers than men photographers seek to pursue the role of "influencer" as a blog writer or active participant in social media forums? There are certainly few women who post comments here, and probably for good reason. Forums can easily become toxic. It doesn't take long for comments to turn nasty and insulting. Women seem to have less tolerance for that sort of environment. I also don't see nearly as many women as men creating YouTube instructional videos, or writing books on photography.

If that's the case, then wouldn't it make sense that manufacturers looking for ambassadors have a smaller pool of female photographers from which to choose? After all, manufacturers need ambassadors who have a wide web of followers... not people such as myself who care not one bit how many people follow or like my work. Male or female, I'm pretty sure manufacturers are looking for ambassadors with large followings.

On the most pragmatic level of running a freelance business, females have every opportunity as men. Our most successful portrait/wedding photographers in my area are female.... which is the only genre in my community that makes any money. There's nothing stopping a person in a free democratic country from having a successful career if he or she can do quality work, advertise effectively, and demonstrate an ability to communicate with clients. I would hardly call the lack of female representation as corporate ambassadors a scandal. And I would want to hear the corporate side of the argument before concluding they are simply blind, insensitive, or deliberately biased against half the world's population. I believe there's more importance in achieving equality of opportunity than equality of results.

"Would it be reasonable to argue that a fewer percentage of women photographers than men photographers seek to pursue the role of "influencer" as a blog writer or active participant in social media forums?"

When I trained as an electrical engineer in the mid-90s, we started with 30 people. 6 females. We ended with 6 people, all male. It was tough and dry.
Where I work now is a multi-discipline engineering consultancy. The electrical engineering team is ~40% female and the team that works on data centres, etc is ~60% female. The enviromental team is mostly female.

The point is that change will happen, but can happen very very slowly unless we all work to make all genders (races/sexualities) feel welcome.

That part of society feels discouraged from participating is a problem for all of society.

As a product of the 60s where the majority of women stayed home to raise children rather than pursue a career, it amazes me how much things have changed. I'm not here to argue whether it's all been for better or worse, but I do feel that cultural changes can be complicated and, indeed, take a long time.

If your electrical engineering team is 40% women and the company would like to see it be more like 50%, then the underlying conditions must be considered, such as... how to get more women into university engineering programs, or getting more girls interested in math and science in elementary school. Simply saying that an entity of any kind should hire 50% women is theoretically easy; however, it doesn't work unless each person, regardless of race, sex or religion is qualified. You don't put people into a job designing Boeing airplanes unless they're highly educated in math and science. Takes a lot more than making people feel welcome.

Ambassadors for Sony or Canon have to fit qualifications that those companies are looking for. If women are under-represented in that field, one should research why, and whether it's gender bias as the author, Ivor, claims, or whether there are other underlying reasons. As I said in my first post, I'd like to hear the manufacturer's side of the story.

Consider too... Are we assuming that everyone wants the type of brand ambassador position Ivor is describing? I would have no interest in the job. Maybe women are generally more enlightened than men, and don't put the same value as men on ego-driven jobs and positions based on follower numbers, with arguably few practical benefits. Maybe more women in general than men don't want to be "influencers" or brand ambassadors. It's probably a stupid question if someone thinks men and women are created the same. But has anyone asked a significant sampling of professional female photographers what they think about this sort of a niche role with camera companies? I think I would do more research before condemning pretty much an entire industry.

"As I said in my first post, I'd like to hear the manufacturer's side of the story."

I would too before assuming they are all evil.

Yes, that would be reasonable... but that's just not how it works here, I'm afraid.

Here at F-Stoppers, there's absolutely no need to consult both sides, you can just fire off in all directions without any concern - after all, this isn't journalism, this is the internet.

I work in a warehouse and have done for 24yrs, I think there were about 4/5 women in there when I started, now it’s definitely a 50/50 split and it seems to be a place they enjoy working in, it is mainly younger people though which might point towards a culture change linked to the younger generation.

The fact that the author needed to research the sexes of the brand ambassadors says everything you need to know about how influential and important "brand ambassadors" actually are! The great thing about photography is that you can see an image and it stands on its own merit. It's not stamped with a label as to what the sex of the photographer is. Most of the revenue earning disciplines like weddings, family/lifestyle and real estate might even be female dominated. I seriously doubt that anyone here is affected by the selection of brand ambassadors. Let them be 100% female if that will satisfy people. When people pay for services, whether it be corporate advertising or art inspired, they usually pick who they believe will be the best person for their needs, whether that be value, technical expertise, creativity, etc. I don't think they care about the sex of the photographer. I get it, we are in an age where we have to check off boxes for equity purposes, but that's going to "ruin" photography way before the sex/gender of any corporate brand ambassador.
Did the author actually write that people who comment should be "reported to the police"?? I suggest he maybe take a closer look at the internet in general and look up the word "troll". There is bullying going on non stop all over the internet and especially on photography websites where the majority of the people are trying to rip apart others who they either disagree with or are jealous of. I think the police have more important things to do than patrol the web for offensive comments.


Thank you for commenting. I don't know why you should object to me researching how many brand ambassadors are, it wasn't a number I could recite from the top of my head, just like I couldn't tell you how many Canon, Nikon or Sony camera models there are. Research allows me to give you accurate data. The example I used of the bias in brand ambassadors is indicative of the bias across the entire industry.

This isn't about niche genres, it is about the industry as a whole. Until we recognize it,talk about it, call out those who pursue maintaining the status quo, and be proactive in addressing the problem, then nothing will change.

This isn't a checkbox exercise. This is about a huge difference where a group is being held back by the dominance of the other. If there was no bias - conscious or subconscious - there would already be equality in numbers. But there isn't.

Why should young women photographers face bigger hurdles moving forward in the industry than men for no other reason than the body they were born into? That happens at the moment, and it is reasonable we should work to change that.

Just like the civil rights movement in the US, or the pressure that stopped the apartheid system in South Africa, it needs to be addressed. Yes, there will be bigots who object to it and don't want to change the way things are. But, although vocal in their opinions, they are, thankfully, in the minority. It just needs more people to stand up and put the misogynists and bullies in their place.

Yes, I did say report it to the police. Trolling isn't harmless, it's sometimes threatening and attacking people for their status is illegal here in the UK and Europe. I am sure that making threats of violence is a criminal offense in most countries. Trolls are going to prison here, and removing people who spout hatred and changing their behavior has to be a good thing.

The ambassadors are for marketing. I don't keep my finger on the pulse of the ambassador world but but are they the "best" (whatever that is) photographers in that genre who use the brand they hype/use/promote?
I assume they need to meet the numbers of followers to get the gig.

Marketing 101 says that people like to buy from people who they can relate to so having women ambassadors can appeal to women buyers.

Hi Mike. I have the pleasure of knowing a few brand ambassadors, both men and women, and I admire their photography. They are also really nice people. It's a two-way benefit for the ambassadors and the camera brands. The photographers get publicity and recognition for their outstanding work and the brands can show the world that well-respected photographers use their equipment. Is there anything wrong with that? It's no different from sports displaying sponsors' logos on shirts and cars, or websites hosting ads for other businesses.

I agree that people buy from those they can relate to. However, if they see a brand misbehaving, such as showing bias against people based upon their status - age, sex, disability, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, veteran status - that will damage the brand.

Here I have just highlighted the example of sex bias. I am sure there are other examples of deliberate or unconscious bias too. I just hope we can move to a more equal and caring world. But I also recognize it takes one step at a time, and with every step upward, there will be those who try to push us back down.

"veteran status"? Are you suggesting that there should be a quota of camera ambassadors who were soldiers in the past? Camera manufacturers should promote visibility of photographers if they worked in the business of war?

How can brands misbehave with them? By treating them as they do with any other person?

I quoted veterans because that is a protected status by law here in the UK and Europe. I'm not saying there should be a quota, I am saying there should be true equality without anyone being discriminated against. It should not make any difference what the person's status is.

Europe is composed of many countries with different laws. I've never heard of such law in Spain or Sweden, for example, so don't generalize.

Can you give me an example of a brand misbehaving showing bias against veterans?

The article was not mainly about gender, it was talking about sex, which by internationally agreed legal definitions are different things altogether. There are lots of other discriminatory practices, and highlighting one at a time isn't an issue.

Nevertheless, if you read the article more closely I do mention gender.

Hi Joe, I lived in Tanzania for a while, and have travelled quite a bit throughout that beautiful continent. I count as friends some of the wonderful, beautiful people I lived alongside, worked with, and met. You are absolutely right that photography is under-represented by the people that live there. That would be a great topic for a future article. I would welcome your input and experience if you want to message me about it. Thanks for commenting.

The best photographs of a place are usually taken by the people who live there, for sure. And yeah, this is another huge representational problem that needs to see progress. I’m not sure, for instance, that I’ve seen a single photo of an Indian person during Holi that wasn’t taken by a white guy. The world is rife with those examples.

None of these companies care at the end of the day. If big profits are put on the other side of diversity then they will adopt diversity. If they can get away with huge profits without diversity then they will. They aren’t worth having any faith in, like all big companies their gestalt is an entity that turns exploitation into profit.

Sorry for being a ray of sunshine 😅

Thank you both for sharing your experiences and thoughts. It is a different topic, although related. I'll come to that in another article if that's okay. I actually started this article about the broader topic of inequality in the industry, but narrowed it down to sexism because of there was too much information for one piece.

It would be great seeing your images in your portfolios here. Who knows, it might start to get noticed.

Hi Joe, sadly the world does have people like you describe. I've been lucky enough to visit countries around the world, backpacking on a low budget and running a business with an African business partner. However, the one thing I have discovered is that ordinary people, no matter their race, color, religion, political background, age, sex or gender, are mostly fabulous. They are kind and welcoming and just trying to live their lives and be happy.

Sadly, too many of those who seek power a those least suited to wield it, and it is those with power that also have money. Half the world's wealth belongs to just 1% of the world's population and I suspect that those rich enough to holiday in St Lucia fall into that category. It's not a happy situation.

I hope the situation can change for you and your country but without anger and hatred, as that always leads to the most unhappy endings.

Change for the better always comes from talking about the world's wrongs, which is why I wrote this article. If we don't highlight it, it won't change.

Joe and Joephy, if either or both of you would like to get in touch by direct message through the site, we'll talk about an article. It would be great to hear from you.

Ivor: I’ll have to defer to Joe, as he has the lived experience. I’m just a reasonably well travelled white guy with eyes to see and a brain to think. From what I’ve seen of your writing I’m not sure what I have to add that you don’t already know yourself.

I love you, Joe.

So, apparently Joe, it is your opinion that white people are ugly and should not take photographs of black people. OK. That is one way to look at it. But it is not a zero sum game. You can't increase the number of black photographers by eliminating white photographers.

I was wondering if you might be from St. Lucia. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel through your country and meet many of your kind country folk. The foreign-owned development was distressing to say the least. The hotels blocking access to public St Lucian beaches, charging hundreds of US dollars to give visitors the “privilege” of road access to the sea.

The luxury condos owned by foreign nationals from America or the UK..

The same story of colonization, copy-pasted all over the globe. (Formerly) Enslaved people not truly free, colonized people not truly free, still being exploited by the new holders of the wealth that was extracted from them years ago.

What a world. But those are your stories, Joe, so I hope you take up Ivor’s offer to contribute your perspective. Your people aren’t my people. Although right now my people have Russian bombs falling on their heads so they aren’t much better off I’m afraid.

What a world.

Steven.. sigh.. why, man? Just don’t. White folk have a stranglehold on supremacy, that’s never going to change. You aren’t in any danger.

The stories of oppressed populations should ideally be told through their own lens. I guarantee you have no idea what their experiences are like.

People like Steve McCurry spend their careers garnering fame and fortune, extracting it from the oppressed and the poor. Who never get a cut. And who often suffer more because of it. Those aren’t the stories some white guy should be telling and getting rich off of. They aren’t his. It’s a form of exploitation, and it’s an injustice.

I can imagine how surprised you’d be if you could truly fathom the global hatred that exists for you as a white American. Not because of anything you’ve personally done, but because of what you represent, and perhaps your unwillingness to recognize that. Maybe spend some time self-reflecting, man.

Ah, I see you’ve attempted to co-opt the language of social justice. Allegedly I am a victim blamer for pointing out that, globally, a lot of people hate white Americans. Something factual, and not without a logical through line given America’s actions abroad. Let’s address the last part of comment first:

I’m not actually sure what you’re point is. What is “telling”? What is being “told”? You say it’s victim blaming to state that many places globally hate white Americans. Have you.. ever watched the news? Has there ever been a Central or South American coup that wasn’t backed by the US and funded primarily by the tax dollars of white Americans? How about Iran/Contra? I wonder how Vietnamese people who lost family in the 60s/70s feel about America waging a war in their country, and all the death and destruction and collateral damage. For.. what, exactly?

How do the Afghans feel about the American tax payers who funded 20s years of war in their country, then abandoned them to the same enemy. Those trillions of tax dollars may have been yours, if you’re American. Did you stand up against said war? If not, the hate is, in fact, earned.

Tell me, what are the unstated “realities of storytelling” that you declare I am denying? I’d like to at least know what they are so I can fact check you.

What does the statement: “If stories only ever belong to the individuals who experience them we would never have community” mean? This one is especially confusing. Stories of people’s experiences always belong to them. How does that have anything at all to do with community? People form communities a million different ways. They play video games or sports together. They share common interests like photography. They go fishing together, silently, enjoying each other’s company. “Community” is not in danger if *underrepresented* and/or disenfranchised people are the ones to pen articles or create photo essays of their own lives.

Why are you against these people being the ones to share their own experiences? Your posturing makes it seem like the only possibility for them to be shared and for people to learn from one another is if white Americans are telling the story.

How would white people sticking to what goes on in their own experience cause them to be even more represented in photography? This is honestly confusing. They’d be less represented. Because if people decided to read an article on what’s going on in Egypt or something, then in this hypothetical reality they’d be reading something written by an Egyptian with photos taken by an Egyptian. If they wanted to read about Americans having their civil
rights eroded then they could read an article by an American.

Don’t try to twist what I’m saying to mean that the only people who can take a photo of someone are people of the same in-group, but globally these types of stories Joe was referring to are utterly dominated by whites of European descent, no matter where or what. Does an Afghan not best understand what Afghans think and feel?

Did Steve McCurry even bother to get someone to ask Sharbat Gula what her experience was before her photo was printed non the front of Nat Geo with the byline “haunted eyes tell of an Afghan refugee’s fears”? Do they now? How would they know, did they ask? Which fears exactly? The fear of the strange white dude who showed up, the fear of being compelled to pose for a photo? It’s nice that Sharbat was eventually evacuated to Italy when Afghanistan was abandoned back to the Taliban, but it’s that photo that put a Taliban bullseye on her head. While Steve won awards and got rich, the girl lived a hard life, the woman lived a hard life, never saw a dime until they needed her again for their little anniversary photo shoot.

It’s gross, bud. It’s gross for well-off white people to go to some disadvantaged place, create some poverty p orn, slap some meaningless deep-sounding subtitle on it and then print money and accolades.

And it happens every day. And there’s no good defence for that in 2022.

They aren’t telling stories. They’re making a buck off people they usually won’t ever see again and definitely won’t be profit sharing with.

I’m not sure you actually read my reply, since you didn’t answer any of my questions or address any of my points. Since you’re unable or unwilling to defend them I guess we can strike your arguments off the ledger then?

The fact that you’re trying to connect segregation to the idea that the people with the experience of an issue, rather than primarily foreigners, should be telling (their own) stories through photography is such a massive feat of mental contortion that I’m not sure what to say.

Since you’re South East Asian: Who knows better the meaning and experience of Holi better:
1. Some white guy from Brooklyn
2. Hindus with the lived experience of their culture and faith

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a photo taken at Holi that wasn’t by some middle class white dude. Why should they be the benefactors of someone else’s experience?

What does a French national, or an Australian, or a Brazilian know of Hola Mohalla? Why should a foreign photojournalist be sent to cover such an event, profit off of it, perhaps win a photo award? Why not a Sikh photojournalist, telling their own stories.

Is photography life or death? Not often. But here’s a life and death example of why lived experience is important:
For years, Ukraine and other Eastern European states have been trying to sound the alarm that the current Russian autocracy has ill designs on their territories. But the story told by the “west” was that there’s nothing to worry about. They didn’t have the experience to know the true danger of the situation, and now they are wise to it too late: after innumerable horrors have befallen innocent civilians.

Steve McCurry is just such a textbook example that it’s hard not to fall back to him. I never said I hated him, nor for the colour of his skin. My point about global hate directed at (white) Americans is that their country’s foreign policy makes them complicit in any number of unjustified conflicts, coups, and killings. If you vote for a guy, give him your tax dollars, and he uses those tax dollars to destabilize a democratically elected government in Chile, or Iran, then you’re complicit in those actions and any hate directed toward you by Chileans or Iranians isn’t due to anti-American prejudice: it’s because your vote and your money were used to wreck their country.

Anyway, back to Steve, and how he fits into this as an example:

Your original objection was that everyone should be free to tell everyone else’s stories. But when Steve went and took his photo of Sharbat Gula, he told no one’s story. He just got a good shot, with barely any context, told no story, and profited handsomely. And that one photo was a huge windfall for him. And the only thing Gula earned from it was a lifetime of attention she didn’t want, getting paraded around by the Afghan government during the American occupation years, and then after the Taliban took over again: a price on her head.

“Steve’s not a writer” - correct. But he, and countless others, are sent to document “stories”… and they don’t actually do that. Sometimes they’re not interested in doing so, but ultimately they can never tell a story more completely, and more accurately, than the people from the place they are sent to cover.

You tried to link things to segregation, but right now the real problem is almost no diversity. There isn’t anything to segregate. The vast majority of stories are told by whites of European descent, regardless of where those stories are happening.

Feel free to disagree - but globally these attitudes are changing in favour of a diversity of opinions, regardless of what you or I think.

My guy, it seemed like they moderated you? All your other responses disappeared along with your other account.

Look bud, I’m going to boil my thesis down for you, and you’re free to disagree. Which is kind of irrelevant because neither you nor I will move mountains, and right now the prevailing trend is in my direction:

Right now there is very little diversity of perspective in photojournalism and photography. Do you disagree?

The vaaaaaaaast majority of “stories” in contemporary media are told by whites of European descent, who aren’t members of the cultures or groups they are reporting on. This includes photography and journalism. By this very fact, they can never capture as much nuance as people from the relevant communities themselves can. They don’t tell the stories as well as someone with a more local lens could. And whites of European descent are massively over represented. And they’re the ones getting paid. Why not let local photographers or journalists benefit financially from their own stories? Why outsource that? The system as it works now is exploitative.

And they often do a bad job, just like Steve McCurry did during his original encounter with Sharbat Gula. Her face made the cover of Nat Geo! The cover! And they made up a subtitle, slapped it on the cover, and that was it. Because they didn’t bother, or care, to actually find out what she thought or felt.

They decided that for her during editing. That, my guy, is not “storytelling” in any context other than fiction. I don’t see how you can argue that this is the right way to do it, when they only got a striking photo and didn’t even get the story of the person they featured. He was reporting on refugees from a war zone, he wasn’t on a corporate headshot job.

Is this how you imagine the meeting went:
Nat Geo: “So, Steve, we paid to send you to the other side of the world to document a refugee crisis near a war zone, what did you get for us.”
Steve: “Check out this sweet photo I took of this kid”
Nat Geo: “Ohhhh, siiiick bro, that’s rad! So what’s her deal? What’s her StOrY? Who is she, where’s she from, what are her thoughts, feelings, fears, hopes, dreams? What’s her experience of the war, of being a refugee?”
Steve: “I dunno? But that photo is totally sick bro! Right?!”
Nat Geo: “…… hells yes it is!! Money well spent!”

He missed the, y’know, journalism bit in photoJOURNALISM.

Why are you defending this system of homogeneous storytelling?

Why are you opposed to more diversity?

People from a community would, and do, end up doing a better job telling their own “stories”. Because they actually care. And they have a deeper knowledge of context to draw from.

You keep on seeming to (willfully) misinterpret what I’m saying to mean that no one should ever take a photo unless it’s in their own country. Which, honestly, is getting pretty boring.

In a world where the bulk of “stories” are told from one perspective, what I want to see is more diversity. And it seems that I will.

Have the last word, mate, it doesn’t seem like you have anything of interest left to read.


Cool. Get everything out of your system?

Now that all of that is over with:

I’m not here to convince you of anything, specifically, as you aren’t my target audience. I’m just using you as a backstop to display ideas on for the consideration of any passing readers.

Not that your replies are that effective of a backstop, as you and I don’t seem to be talking about the same things in any case. You really seem fixated on some vaguely adjacent issue, almost like you’re just skimming what I wrote and then writing a reply to what you imagined I said. At this final juncture I’ve taken the same liberty and didn’t bother reading what you wrote too closely. Looks like more of the same from a quick glance. How stereotypically male of us, hmm?

At any rate, try not to get yourself banned again. When your comments disappear it removes the context for my replies.

You should curb your racism buddy. It's not a good look.

Racism by definition can only exist in the direction of a majority’s treatment of an oppressed minority.

You have:

Joe comes from an island where his people were dragged to as slaves. They were exploited for free labor by white Europeans. When they gained independence and threw off the shackles of slavery, that same white presence lingered. Now his people are exploited for cheap labour and the profits are shipped off-island and back to wealthy white plantation owners, resort owners, etc. Once in a while it’s the same old money extracted from the slave economy that’s exploring them still.

Quite ironic: when the descendants of the people who kept your ancestors as slaves are the ones actively exploring you and your country in the present.

I can understand Joe’s anger, it’s anger at injustice.

Racism is any and all hatred towards other races.

If you have negative feelings towards people who's ancestors might have had slaves in the past then you are a racist. Plain and simple.

You are incorrect, look it up, it’s literally in the dictionary. Not that it matters, I doubt Joe cares about the opinion of “user 65983”.

And Joe has negative feelings towards the people who are actively exploiting his country folk right this exact second. At least bother to read what he actually wrote.

I can’t blame him, I’d hate them too if it were my people being exploited.

It's sad you don't know what racism is.

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