Women in Photography

By Lily Snowden

For centuries, women have been oppressed. Not only as people, but also as artists. Think about it: The Mona Lisa? Painted by a man. The Starry Night? Painted by a Man. The Kiss? I think you get the point. It seems for centuries women could be the subjects of art, but could never be the creators of it. Many only consider art as paintings, drawings, or sculptures, and one artform people most often overlook is photography.

The fact of the matter is photography has almost always been dominated by men. The first photo was taken by a man, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, and even the camera was invented by a man!

I am currently minoring in photography. Even though I’m about to graduate, I haven’t been a photographer for long, and when I tell people this, I often get a lot of “tips” or unsolicited advice in response. Maybe it’s my young age, the fact that I’m graduating early, or because I’m minoring and not majoring in photography. But, it seems as though a lot of this “advice” comes from my male counterparts. And as a young woman in a male-dominated field, I can’t help but feeling like saying “shut the f*** up!,” when some 46-year-old-exclusively-shooting-on-Canon-and-only-taking-photos-of-birds guy tries to tell me why I need to lower my aperture!

In all seriousness, being a female artist is hard, and being a female photographer is even harder. Photography is not only a difficult artform to grasp conceptually, but the machinery involved requires another skillset all together.

I know I’m not alone in my feelings. I recently spoke to two local Jacksonville lady photographers, Britt Moore and Amanda Rosenblatt. Both are outstanding female photographers with diverse portfolios; Britt a standout sports photographer/videographer, and Amanda an established portrait and lifestyle photographer. Although their work is vastly different, they recall having similar experiences as female photographers.

Britt Moore grew up racing motocross, only getting into photography after an injury at 17 years old. She has been a photographer for almost 10 years now, and is now well versed in both photography and videography. Being a sports photographer has offered Britt many amazing opportunities as a female creative, but one of the most challenging parts as a woman in this field has been being overlooked when applying for new jobs.

“My full name is Brittani, but I started going by Britt when I turned 19 and started looking for work in the sports industry. I noticed that I was getting passed up the chain of command a lot easier when I signed off on emails as Britt, a more gender neutral name,” Moore says.

The future of photography for women is looking bright. More and more women, like Moore, are slowly making their way into male-dominated fields such as sports photography, and are unapologetically amazing at what they do.

Moore’s best piece of advice to young female photographers is “You have to be self-reliant and willing to constantly network. Ultimately, just get out and start shooting what you want to shoot, don’t wait for the right job or opportunity. It takes a lot of patience and hard work to start building momentum, but it’s very rewarding once your career starts taking off.”

Unlike Moore, Amanda Rosenblatt has been a photographer for as long as she can remember. Amanda has had various jobs as a photographer, from shooting for Starbucks to hospital-related assignments. Amanda has had an exhibit in MOCA, and has been extremely successful as a photographer. Most of Amanda’s work is stylized portraiture, and each photo tells a story through an image. Amanda agrees that being a woman in a male-dominated field has been colleagues and employers overlooking her or underestimating her experience in the industry.

“I think the disadvantages as photographers are less about gender and more about who you know, the equipment you have, etc. I will say that I feel my age in conjunction with gender makes it difficult for older men in my field to take me seriously, but I think that is the only gender specific disadvantage I have experienced,” Rosenblatt says.

Her best piece of advice to young girls interested in photography is “Keep making work. About anything, of anything, for you, for the world, for the process, for whatever. Make the work. And don’t stop learning or paying attention to the constructive criticisms, you’re never an expert, there is always more to learn.”