Get Her a Camera!

I operate a channel that helps photographers on YouTube and Instagram, and both audiences are predominantly male. I've worked on sets for over a dozen years, where there is the expectation that men are the directors or photographers and women handle the glam. Is that a problem? Yes, it's a big problem, and here's why.

How Will You Remember Culture and History?

I do not expect everything to have a balance between men and women like an even 50/50 split. I'm simply stating that representation matters, and here's why in this case.

One way to say it is: "photography is still a male-dominated career and hobby." Another to say that is: "dince men are still the main storytellers, we will have an unbalanced and misrepresented view of our world," and that part is what needs fixing. 

Photographers are involved in everything: launching businesses, records, books, movies, marketing campaigns, journalism, brand-building, family photography, weddings, newborns, and gorgeous landscapes. That means there are a lot of areas that could benefit from a balanced point of view and representation.

Photography Is Storytelling

The story is a powerful way of changing lives and building brands. I could read you a page from a dictionary, and chances are that you'd zone out after a couple of sentences. Or I could tell you a story and I'd likely keep your attention much longer, keeping you engaged and invested in what I'm saying. Photography is storytelling in its way, and we're mainly hearing stories from men.

Stories help launch brands and build professional reputations. Stories launch political campaigns and help pass public policies. Attach a story to anything, and it has a higher chance of sticking! Stories are more powerful with a camera. Are you starting to see why it's an issue that photography is still male-driven? 

As a guy, I want to hear the perspective of all people and not just my gender. It doesn't just benefit women, it helps all of us. Men have to encourage a more diverse workforce. How do we do this?

How Do We Encourage More Women to Shoot?

It's the holidays, and right about now, people are making their shopping lists for the kids. I hope that if you have a little girl in your life and are not sure what to get her, consider getting her a camera. It could be digital or analog, used or new. You can even gift an old iPhone to her. Get her a camera where she can take photographs and create videos. It's a powerful tool to be familiar with. 

I understand not everyone has the deep pockets for a camera, but there are other ways to help. If you understand lighting or composition, you could offer her lessons. Teach her "the rules of photography," and when she knows them, encourage her to break those rules. Let her shoot how she wants, and encourage the little artist-in-training to take space and be loud with her imagination. 

Maybe she's only documenting her own life with this new camera and skill. That's great! Maybe she will photograph life around the house, her friends, or even her neighborhood. That's great also! You'll have a little documentarian in the family! Or maybe she'll start charging friends and neighbors for photoshoots, and if she does, that's incredible also!

Let her shoot how she wants. All we can do is encourage them to try new things and to be loud about their perspective. It probably won't solve any of the world's problems, but it does give the world a more balanced view, and that can be a beautiful thing too. Get her a camera!

Walid Azami's picture

Walid Azami is a Photographer/Director and creative consultant from Los Angeles. He got his start working with Madonna + Co by contributing to her many projects. It was then he realized his place in the creative world & began teaching himself photography. He has since shot Kanye, Mariah Carey, Usher, Bernie Sanders, JLO, amongst others

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I suspect part of the problem is the technical gear-centric nature of the hobby; this being attractive to men. Cycling is similar, in terms of its expensive technical gear-centric nature, and also has low rates of female participation.

My solution with my wife was to recommend something that wasn't intimidating (RX100). Now, a couple of years later, she still drives it on SCN mode; I know if I pushed her to learn the "correct" way to do it, she'd simply stop shooting.

So, if you must get her a camera, make sure it's easy to use, and not intimidating. If she decides she wants more, then she will upgrade on her own. And DO NOT stand there telling her how to do it, unless she asks for advice.

A more diverse workforce?

I actually agree...

We should encourage more women into the armed forces (predominately men), brick laying (predominately men), construction (predominately men), taxi driving (predominately men), truck driving (predominately men), the IT profession (predominately men), sewage working (predominately men), farm labouring (predominately men) etc.

Perhaps, dare I suggest, that women are not that interested in photography just like I am not interested in hairdressing, beauty or child care, to name but a few.

Look at Scandinavia, the most egalitarian countries on the plant, and after 40 years for their social engineering equality experiment, the differences between men and women are even greater. There are even less women going into STEM.

Equality is great on paper, unworkable in practise.

Anyone who is interested in Chris' argument, should take the time to watch Jordan Peterson.

Edit: I forgot that people need things spelled out for them. For the record, I am not passing comment upon the argument being presented, nor indicating whether I agree or otherwise, simply stating its origin.

You all know it's possible to listen to people, even if you dislike their opinions, right?

So the question is: Are there more women photographers in Sweden? - I think I'll skip looking at Peterson because I won't find an answer to the question there.

I encourage anyone I talk to that picking up a camera is fun. It's also fun to learn about photography and what makes snap shots and what makes images. You can talk about diversity in a specific genre, but you can't force people to do what is just not appealing to them. I have zero interest in knitting, but I admire the skill that it takes to produce those lovely products. And guess what, most knitters are women. Should we start a campaign to get more men interested in knitting? Go ahead, but good luck!

I used to do a lot of work on cars. I couldn't get my wives (2) or girlfriends interested in getting brake dust and differential lube on their hands. Heck, I had a hard time getting one of my wives to pump the brakes when I was bleeding the system.

Men and women are wired differently. Why is it so difficult to accept this?

Similar experience. Couldn't get my wife or kid into photography. Love taking pictures, could care less about mechanics. Both dislike DSLRs. Too big, too heavy, too conspicuous.

I don't think it's a girl thing necessarily. There's no shortage of visible female photographers. The ladies in this house just aren't interested. I know a lot of guys who don't like photography. Phone's good for incidental shots, beyond that, no concern.

So yeah, I think we agree. These recruiting articles are strange. There's never been a better time than now to get into anything regardless of who you are.

I'd like to see whatever barriers to entry still exist removed and let everyone choose their own adventure. If women don't want to take photos and knit instead, no sweat. Do whatever you want.

The real weirdos are into model railroading. It's like 98% guys. Of that 98%, 50% have wives that enable them. The other 50% have wives that want to throw their husbands in front a train for spending all that time and money setting up a massive replica of Wyoming in the basement. That's one bizarre hobby :P

Out of 50 local photographers in my area, I'm one of 3 males.
All 47 shoot "natural light"

It was my Girlfriend who sparked my interest in photography... she had it added to their school curriculum as a subject so i bought her a DSLR several years ago (D3200 we still have). After many trips out as a bag carrier whilst she took photos i thought "i need to get a camera here to cure the boredom"... and here we are 5 years later, with about 5 cameras and 12 lenses in the house.

Anyone interested in a a hardly used Lumix FZ1000 I bought for my wife a year ago along with a camera bag, extra batteries, SD cards and fancy strap?

And, just a coincidence I'm sure but most of the female photographers in my area are also "Natural Light Photographers" in combination with "Not Really Level Horizons" photography.

The small number of professional women photographers I do know are wonderfully talented people who exceed many of their male counterparts in both artistic and technical skills. I thought that when we use the word "photographer" we have already assumed that means both men and women. What the hell does the number of men vs women using a camera have to do with photography?

" What the hell does the number of men vs women using a camera have to do with photography?"

It doesn't except that in today's world, it does. Equal opportunity is good, equal because we say so? Not so much.

Similar situation, Michael: I bought my step daughter and granddaughter nice Canon P&S cameras. Same situation....dust collectors. What's the old adage about horses and water?

Funny, I didn't realize photography was male-dominated? I thought it was just my current niche (motorsports). I would also like to note most people assume I'm a man on the internet, so if you think your audience is mostly men it could be based on incorrect assumptions. I've seen a lot of women as professional photographers (portraits, weddings, corporate events) so I assumed a more even distribution. After reading the other comments I have to wonder if maybe the reality is that men talk to men, remember men, notice men, and decide men are good enough to count whilst countless women are present but ignored.

And all these examples of a person close to you not being interested just remind me of trying to get my boyfriend interested in photography. Not very successful but oh well - I don't think that means men in general don't find photography appealing, just that man in particular. Why would it be different for women?

Bizarre to see people diss natural light, too. Why? How do you get wildlife shots with artificial lights, or are wildlife photogs not cool enough to count now? When I'm shooting a race outside during the day, do you really think I should bring lights? What about landscape photographers?