The first step in solving a problem, is to admit that you have one. So, I’ll start out by making this admission:
Female landscape photographers face significant challenges that their male counterparts to do not face.
I have to admit that if you had asked me about the challenges faced by female photographers when I started out as a pro, I would almost certainly have insisted that there were none. However, after being married to a highly-talented female landscape photographer for ten years, I have seen first-hand some of the challenges she’s faced… and I am far more aware now than I was before we started working together.
Some of these challenges are due to physical differences between the sexes… but other challenges are the result of a strong gender bias in the landscape photography industry, and a lack of respect shown by men in the business. And yes – I have to admit that I have participated in showing a lack of respect toward female photographers… never consciously or deliberately – but cluelessness is no excuse. Awareness is critical if we are going to solve this problem.
I’ve read many articles on the topic of unfair treatment of women in the workplace – a few are even specifically aimed at the problems female photographers face – but few articles give specific tips about how to overcome these challenges. So, I interviewed some of the incredible female landscape photographers who contribute to Visual Wilderness. Hearing their answers was eye-opening.
How do you deal with the challenges faced by female photographers?
Female photographers face challenges due to often-smaller body types and the shape of the female body. Lace Andersen sums it up very well: “I’m incredibly tiny – just a little over 100 pounds. Structurally I can’t find any backpacks that fit me properly.”
The backpacking industry is certainly aware of these limitations, and some companies offer backpacks geared toward women. However, most camera backpack makers have turned a blind eye to the problem in the past, and despite more awareness, most continue to do so. Some companies simply offer pink or purple bags, or bags designed to look like purses… which don’t provide a real solution to the problem.
We may have to wait for camera companies to start producing female-friendly backpacks, but there are other ways to address the problem as well.
- Seek out lightweight equipment – you have tons of options when it comes to lightweight camera systems and lightweight bags and gear. Carbon fiber tripods, mirrorless cameras, lightweight lenses, lightweight clothing and hiking shoes – all of these can make a difference.
- Be smart about what you take with you when you are on location. If you dont need a peice of gear you can lighten your load by leaving it behind.
- And finally, consider contacting your favorite bag company and asking for more options for women. The more voices they hear, the more likely they are to do something about this.
To be continued Female Landscape Photographers – Dealing with Safety