The current boom of female-first initiatives is transforming the creative industry, providing opportunities for women to find mentorship, addressing discrepancies in pay, and helping women rally together to drive new policies and practices.
Actions such as the 3 Percent Movement, 50/50 Initiative, and #TimesUpAdvertising have thrust these issues into the spotlight and gained significant attention and traction.
But we can do more.
Women photographers are still grossly underrepresented when it comes time to hire for big advertising campaigns and magazine covers, despite the fact that women account for:
- Roughly 50% of photographers and advertising industry workers
- 80% of art and photography school graduates
- The majority of art buyers and photo editors
One report indicates that male photographers account for as high as 96% of advertising photographers. With a quick glance at the top photography representation agencies in the U.S., it’s clear that women comprise only about 10% of those agency rosters.
A Call to Action
There is a huge population of highly talented, underutilized female photographers who are ready to put their unique vision to work. It’s time we create policies at both the brand and agency level to ensure they are given the opportunity to do so.
This movement is a specific request for agencies and other media to include at least one female photographer in each “triple-bid,” or make female (and non-white) options at least 50% of the consideration when selecting image-makers.
Doing so will not only help level the very uneven playing field for women photographers, but it will also benefit business across the board.
Female Photographers Click with Female Consumers
“…with the unprecedented rate at which women are amassing wealth and influence, it’s almost insane from a business perspective to misunderstand them.” —3 Percent Movement mission.
Women influence more than 80% of consumer spending, but more than 90% of women feel that advertisers do not understand them. To reach and influence the female consumer, advertising imagery has to portray them authentically, reflecting their motivations and needs.
Female photographers have a unique ability to do this, and not including their perspective, especially in the age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, is not only a missed opportunity but a massive business (and cultural) failure.
A Cultural Shift
Getting more women photographers working requires effort on the part of both the creative talent themselves and those with the power to hire them. Typically, female photographers are less aggressive in marketing themselves and seeking representation than their male counterparts. This is something I am actively working to change through Trove Artist Management’s programs and my personal consulting practice, helping women learn to stand taller, pursue opportunity and promote themselves more confidently.
In the meantime, I encourage those of you with the hiring power to help facilitate this shift by searching harder to fill more of the gaps in the photo industry, advertising industry and the professional world at large with talented, hardworking women–and pay them what they’re worth.
My hope is that other photographers, creative directors, art buyers and editors will join this movement to ensure that more campaigns truly #DiversifyTheLens. I want to further amplify this message by asking celebrities, fashion designers and influencers to specifically ask for diversity in photography when they are being featured or creating campaigns.
My goal is that we all share this challenge widely so that more female photographers can be recognized and rewarded for their talent, which will benefit us all.
Together, we can make a difference.
Helpful Tools and Resources
To help you find the talent you need and spread the #DiverifyTheLens mission, I’ve compiled the below resources:
- A list of my favorite female photographers
- Alreadymade, a directory of established commercial photographers curated by Jill Greenberg
- GirlGaze an organization dedicated to closing the gender gap, founded by Amanda de Cadenet.
- Women Photograph a listing of female photojournalists
- #DiversifyTheLens Ambassador materials, including a guide to disrupt the underrepresentation of women in photography and downloadable campaign photos.
Join the Movement
Hiring more female photographers and having their perspective fairly represented will not only benefit photographers but the entire creative industry, the global economy, and women everywhere. To take it a step further, I believe that the creative vision of women in the marketplace will help us understand women, and each other, better and connect us in a way that is sorely lacking and needed today.
If we work together, it can happen.
By sharing this article, spreading the #DiversifyTheLens mission and seeking out more female talent for your own agency or projects, you can help shift the creative culture.
About the author: Amy V. Cooper is a photography consultant, coach, and editor, as well as the founder of Trove Artist Management. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Cooper’s work and connect with her website, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.