“In 2017, just 13.7 percent of magazine covers from the top 10 American fashion publications were photographed by women,” according to Erin Cunningham of Refinery29, and yet, according to the 2010 United States Census, the female population of the United States is 50.8 percent. So, why are there so few women shooting the covers of fashion magazines?
“It’s time that changed,” according to Cunningham. She reached out to female fashion photographers for her article “30 Female Photographers Sound Off on Fashion’s Gender Imbalance” to get their views on the industry and why there aren’t more females shooting the covers of fashion magazines. After all, most fashion magazines are directed to the female consumer. Sure, there are magazines like GQ and Maxim that are focused to the male reader. But the majority of fashion magazines are aimed at the female consumer and female fashion. There is a saying in photography "that to be good at shooting your subject, you need to know your subject." If this is truly the case, wouldn’t it make sense that more women photographers should be shooting for the fashion industry? After all, the magazines are featuring female models wearing women’s clothing. Surely, a female photographer can better relate to the model and the product the model is showcasing.
Photographer Amand Charchian is quoted in Cunningham’s article: “I find women have an amazing capacity for empathy and connection that is conducive to prescient and timely content creation.” So, why aren’t the fashion magazines and ultimately the fashion houses demanding that more women photographers be used if they do in fact have these amazing capacities? Wouldn’t these capacities aid the photographer in developing photos that connect even more strongly with the female consumer? Isn’t a female photographer better suited for the job? “Women have a very sensitive vision: they go deep beyond the surface, they try to understand situations and personalities, and they are quite honest,” Carlotta Manaigo is quoted as saying in Cunningham’s article.
Is this true that women would make better fashion photographers? Honestly, I don’t know. I tend to believe that every photographer incorporates a part of themselves in their work and who they are is developed by the lives they have lead. So, perhaps being female aids the female fashion photographer and is an asset that male fashion photographers don’t have. If that is true, then maybe the number of female photographers shooting the covers of fashion magazines should be higher. However, Cummingham seems to imply in her opening statement that the percentage of female shot covers doesn’t match with the female population of our society.
I believe that the final product should speak for itself. We should be less concerned with what type of person shot the photo and more interested in the numerous facets of the photo. I especially like this quote from Daria Kobayashi Ritch: “For me, it’s not so much about male versus female, but giving everyone an equal voice.” Ritch goes on to say: “We should strive to give everyone a chance to share their views and stories, because the first step to understanding one another is listening and seeing life from each other’s perspective.”
Ritch’s sentiment that everyone should be given an equal chance is the foundation the photography industry and the fashion industry should strive for. That doesn’t mean the results are always going to come out similar with a 50/50 split between male and female photographers. It means that everyone should have the chance to have their work evaluated solely on the quality of their work and not on some category the photographer may or may not fall into.
This doesn’t only apply to male versus female but rather for every category that humans put each other into. Why even place labels on each other? If the fashion industry is genuinely discriminating against female photographers, then shame on them. But if the yardstick merely is percentages, then that is not the same as “everyone should have a chance to have their work evaluated solely by the quality of their work."