Intentional or not, there’s a substantial amount of messaging that occurs when you create a “Top 100” of anything. The International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers released their list of the Top 100 Wedding Photographers in the World, and when you scroll down the list you’ll notice there’s a group that’s incredibly under-represented: women.
In the list, which encompasses incredible talent from all across the globe, only ten to fifteen are female. Whenever I see these kinds of things, I have to ask myself: How? I find it hard to believe that the best options were almost exclusively (85-90%) male, and if that’s the case, what led the organization to this conclusion?
In recent years we’ve become more and more aware of the inequality in the photography industry (and honestly, in most industries). Be that through body shaming, or even Nikon’s distribution of D850’s there’s a well-documented method of operation that, in effect, excludes or pushes out women. Just as well-documented is the persistent push-back against the idea that what we’re seeing is sexism. But I think that comes down to the ways that we hear the word, “Sexism.”
This Top 100 may not have been made with malicious intent. In fact, I can almost guarantee you that it wasn’t. But sexism doesn’t require malicious intent for it to be sexism. There’s an inherent bias that many men carry with us (myself included). These things dictate our deliberate actions, as much as they dictate our involuntary actions. Because of that, when I look at this list, I don’t see some brand of angry, violent sexism. I see the sexism that until now went unnoticed, and that includes the lack of appreciation for the talents of the females in our industry that’s demonstrated on this list.
How do we change that? First, we need to accept that this exists and that we are ourselves responsible to change it and we need to become aware of our own biases and accept them. And then, we need to start appreciating and encouraging the female talent that’s always been among us.
This Top 100 list might have been well-intentioned, but it’s another example of how intentions don’t translate to messaging.