The Importance of the Female Lens in Photography

Photographer Jill Greenberg recently gave this 8-minute talk at TEDxWabashCollege on the importance of and discrimination against female photographers.

“Walking us through her personal experience, Jill Greenberg explains the problem of only seeing the world from a man’s perspective,” TEDx Talks writes.

Greenberg became world famous (and infamous) several years ago for her somewhat controversial End Times portraits of toddlers crying.

In the aftermath of that series going viral and causing controversy, Greenberg’s signature portrait look from it became imitated by portrait photographers around the world and taught in photography classes as the “Jill Greenberg Look.”

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Despite having close to two decades of experience, a look named after her, numerous commercial campaigns under her belt, and fine art photos exhibited around the world, Greenberg realized that she might have hit a glass ceiling when she noticed that men were getting photography jobs to shoot in her signature style.

When she asked her agent why this was happening, she was told that the TV networks, movie studios, and magazines were “boy’s clubs.”

Greenberg says that women make up 80% of students graduating from art and photography programs, yet they are underrepresented in commercial photography, which is still widely perceived as “a man’s job.”

“Why should we all care?” Greenberg asks. “Because those who are paid to create the images which shape our culture have real power.”

“What happens when our views of the world are shaped by only a male lens? Obviously then we’re only getting the perspective and the biases of half the population, since almost every image we are surrounded by has been filtered through a man’s eye and a man’s mind.”

Greenberg has a new imitative called Alreadymade that aims to bring gender parity to the industry. It’s an online directory of talented women photographers who have shot at least 3 ad campaigns and who have handled budgets of at least $125,000.