The role of the female photographer is slowly starting to change the world. For example, I have always found funny that Faby, for some time in the past, felt to be the lesser photographer of Faby and Carlo. More than funny, it has always been frustrating to see her creative genius put down by few false convictions. These convictions found their roots, primarily, in the photographers’ circles. Male dominated, technical oriented, these circles have been the standard for photographers since I can remember. The culture has always been flavoured by testosteronic comparison for who had the biggest lens.
If for many years I failed to understand the triggers behind this “feeling a lesser photographer”, now I understand that it is about the essence of being a female photographer. One day, I started putting the piece of a complex puzle together. A puzzle that speaks about femininity, about being a female photographer in a male dominated world. A complex cross between an emotional country enclosed by strong technical borders.
It is funny that a man should write a post about being a female photographer, but the insights I had gave me certain access to something which is uniquely inspired, technically unaware and incredibly beautiful: the world of a female photographer.
On being a female photographer, not a lesser photographer
Let me speak clearly, openly and without prejudice. Being a female photographer does not make anyone a lesser photographer. No discussions, full stop.
In time, I learn to get used to the frustration of a female photographer (Faby) to showcase photos from which I had only to learn. I have never seen her as a lesser photographer, so why did she? Why did she question every frame, every small mistake, every out of focus, while I was just admiring the emotions captured in those photographs?
Megapixels won’t fill the lack of visions
In the male dominated world of professional photography, there are a lot of discussion about who has the biggest sensor. When I had my Canon 70-200, the gaze of other photographers were example of size comparison. Yes, my lens was bigger than theirs. Comparison, yes, but not from female photographers. They were more inspired by what was behind photography itself.
The megapixel lust, however, is something that divides a male from a female photographer in an incredible way. If the male photographer will be immediately prone to comparison, the female photographer will just shy away. Faby knows that her Fuji X-T1 does not have a full frame sensor, but she can’t give this notion less importance, and she now knows that the size of her lens has nothing to do with the quality of her work.
A female photographer will always feel left out from the social circles of the “winning ones“, as too many of them will still focus their talks about f stops, the math of the depth of fields and so on.
Male VS Female cameratism
Another big issue in the male VS female photographer comparison, at the base of the “lesser photographer syndrome” is embedded in our culture. Men tend to create a feeling of camaraderie when they are together. They group and use the number as strength. First they wipe out who is different, and then they start fighting amongst each other. Female photographers, on the other hand, tend to shoot themselves first, in order to face the outside world as (lone) winners for the entire female race.
This has two serious components. The first is that a female photographer will rarely trust another female photographer. The second is that the lone winner will face a group of male photographers still holding together.
I may be incredibly wrong, but in my long experience, the occasions in which this was not the truth were exceptions that confirmed the rule.
Inspiration is a moment, creativity a process
Another big block to Faby’s sense of self, as “lesser photographer”, was her idea of inspiration and creativity. An idea often shared in the world of female photographers. To her, inspiration and creativity were similar -if not the same- thing. Now, don’t think for an instant that Faby lacks common sense of knowledge. The truth is that, like many other women, the common sense does not apply to her unachievable high standard set for herself. She was used to complain that she was not as creative as I was, based on the fact that her inspiration were limited to a fraction of a vision, while I was able to create entire stories. She thought that my creativity was the result of a moment of genius, while her genius was somehow limited, making the female photographer in her a lesser being, hidden behind a mount of self doubts.
Creativity is a process, a hard work that may start by a momentary inspiration, but that has to be drivven by hard work and many, many failures.
A female photographer is a breath of fresh air
In the crowded world of megapixels, size comparison, holy wars of brands, a female photographer is a breath of fresh air. I look at Faby now and I see a competent, incredibly good photographer. I see her out of the doubts that still holds many female photographer in a deadlock of self doubts. If you are reading this, maybe feeling a lesser photographer because it is not exactly clear how to calculate the depth of field, I am talking to you. Yes, you, that you are turning around looking if behind you someone else might be the one I am smiling to. You should look behind my shoulders, where Faby’s desk is, stand up and look at the incredible things she accomplished. She works hard, sweating to get where she wants to be, overcoming self doubts and fears to be a great photographer. Then you should go in front of the mirror and repeat a thousand times: “photography comes from the heart, not from the head”
A female photographer has the compassion, the vision and the empathy we need to see in the next iconic images. Those components have nothing to do with being awkward when someone is talking about the size of their sensors or the f-stop of their expensive lens.
An advice to the female photographers
Stop being your worst enemy. Seriously.
Find of the photographers who share your same vision and gather together, leaving any technical s**t at the door. Bring your own inspiration, creativity and knowlege to the table and share. Learn from others and don’t be afraid to admit ignorance and more importantly don’t be afraid to fail.
We need you. We all need more women to bring their own vision to the world of photography.
PS: and if you see another female photographer full of seld doubts, look at her photos, not at her camera: you will be surprised.