Feminism Photography

Five things you shouldn’t say to a photographer

So a friend posted a link this morning to an article of things you shouldn’t say to a photographer. Predictably it was full of things like ‘you must have a really expensive camera!’ and ‘ I wish I had your job, all you have to do is press a button!’

I get that these rile photographers up. After all, (some) photographers do work hard and have a talent for taking great pictures, and it doesn’t happen just because you bought a great camera. And there is an awful lot more work that goes into it than just pressing a button.

But readers, I present to you my own – slightly cynical – list of thing not to say to a photographer.

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Are you the model?

Heard being said to photographers who are women at workshops since… well.. since forever. No, I’m not the model. Do I look like a model? I’m five foot tall, have bad skin and don’t take care of my hair. I’m also wearing all my old walking gear because I’m going to be rolling around on the floor sometimes when I photograph the model. Oh and this bag here? It’s a fucking camera bag. Being a photographer is about noticing details – please try to notice some mode. Thanks.

I know you’re not a model, but would you pose nude for me? It’ll be tasteful.

Anyone asking that question of a photographer who is a woman and that they don’t know very well is unlikely to shoot anything tasteful. Ask yourself this simple question ‘would I ask this question to 72 year old Master Photographer Bob who is standing ten feet away? If you wouldn’t, then don’t ask that photographer either. If you still ask this question of a photographer just because she’s a woman and you like photographing women – you’re a sleaze-ball. And a creep. Just don’t. Thanks.

You do sports and product photography? Oh. I thought you’d be more likely to photograph babies and weddings.

Presenting as a woman in public doesn’t mean that I have any desire to come into contact with small humans or celebrations of monogamy. Thanks.

Don’t you find it hard carrying around all that equipment you need for sports photography?

No. I don’t. I’m under thirty (just) and I’m pretty fit. I also used to enjoy powerlifting. I might even be able to deadlift more than you. But while you’re worrying about the health and safety aspects of my job, perhaps you could direct that angst towards the gear manufactures who seem to think that their entire target market is 6ft and has stereotypical male proportions? Thanks.

Female photographers have it easier.

Well firstly I’d like you to stop adding the prefix ‘female’ to photographer. You don’t add ‘male’ to the word photographer when you’re talking about someone who appears to be male. I’m a human, so if you must use any word to describe me it’s ‘woman’.

Secondly, you might think we do, but we really don’t. I mean aside from the pervasive casual sexism that is rife within the hobby and industry (you know, things like, having to constantly prove that we know what we’re doing and that we’re not just some soccer mom with a camera), and then aside from the fact that society expects us to hang out at home, get married, have babies and then have a hobby job, being a photographer is really bloody hard whichever gender you identify as. Yeah ok, so some women might find it easier to attract work when it comes to things like maternity shoots, newborn babies, lesbian weddings and the like, but you know what it’s harder for us to work in any of the traditionally male dominated areas. Photographers who are women often aren’t taken seriously if they pitch for corporate work, product work, work within the science industries – the list goes on. So don’t whinge and there are a few minority areas where some women find it just a little easier than men to get work. Because honestly, every other part is just as hard or harder for us.

Please do take this in the spirit it was intended. And possibly with a little extra hate and bile.