I feel a bit pissed off.
A few days ago I saw a post floating around social media about Nikon Asia choosing 32 photographers to promote their new camera; of the 32, unfortunately rather predictably, 32 of them were men. This interested me as 1. I’m in the market for a new camera at the moment, 2. I have two teenage sons and I’m trying to teach them about feminism, 3. I’m a female photographer, 4. I’ve just had enough of being on the receiving end of this kind of thing.
My immediate feeling is ‘right, I’m not buying a Nikon then’. And I’m not. But I have been thinking about buying a Canon, and so I looked on Instagram, searching for posts tagged with the model I’m considering. I found the ‘official’ #c5dm4. Is this official? I don’t know, but this is what I’m presented with:
Can you see a problem here? I’m not a prude, I don’t have a problem with nudes, I don’t have a problem with fashion or beauty, but I have to ask who this is for? I would say this is for men. And as a female, to be constantly bombarded with these sorts of images as a representation of photography feels horrible. And to be presented with them as a representation of femininity feels horrible too. If you’re male and you can’t see the problem, think about impossibly perfect males being in these shots, in these sorts of poses, and really be honest about how you’d feel seeing this message repeated to you day in, day out.
Look, it’s not just this sort of site. It’s not just Nikon saying that they invited women and they didn’t turn up (which sounds like bollocks to me), it’s also (this is not an exhaustive list obviously), stuff like:
- ‘Country House Photo Events’. These run near me and from their site it appears the events are all about shooting women in their underwear in a country house. This is presumably another one of those events that lots of women ‘don’t bother turning up’ to.
- I see the discussion on about Nikon on the RPS Facebook group, some people (mainly, but not exclusively men) saying it just doesn’t matter (yes, it does), someone says that when he (white male) books speakers .. ‘I do it based on the work that I see … and how an audience of both men and women will respond to the work and learn from it’ (*italics are mine). In fact there are lots of similar comments from very well meaning men saying that the work they choose and like is based entirely on asthetics and so it’s not a problem. They have failed to notice the point that it’s really a male aesthetic that sets the tone. It’s subjects that to me typically seem more relevant or appealing to males – who are doing the choosing, setting the agenda, deciding how women will respond and how women that ‘bother turning up’ will learn (followed by a mention that last meeting there were only five women anyway – having gone along to a couple of similar events I can guess why).
- The way cameras are made and marketed. I went held a Canon EOS 5D Mark iii and it’s huge in my hands. Too big, heavy and overly complicated. The 5D mark iv apparently has an ISO of about 102000, a gazillion focus points, endless stuff I don’t need or want and a manual that will take me a week to read. Because it’s all about ‘gear’. I don’t want ‘gear’, I just want a camera that I can carry around with me, that has a high megapixel count, and that takes decent photographs. The reason I’m looking at the Canon is I want a full frame digital camera. I think I might look elsewhere though.
Looking for a new camera, I’m really not surprised about the rising popularity of plastic lens cameras and lomography type images. Here’s what I get when I do the same Instagram search on Lomography:
There’s a much wider range of subjects, people, style etc. It’s more exciting, more modern and the cameras are easier.
Needless to say, I won’t be buying a Nikon. And now I’ve also decided against a Canon too.