Photography Information

Photography Has No Gender

Women photographers are fortunate. Unlike other titles, photographer has no gender. Women photographers don't have to force stilted language like "flight attendant" instead of "stewardess," or "letter carrier" instead of "mailman." "Photographer" doesn't have the historical male/female titles such as "author" and "authoress," or "actor" vs. "actress." Women photographers may not even have to battle the associated gender that "doctors" or "nurses" do. Did you know that bank tellers always were men up until WWII because it was thought that women couldn't handle money?

So when you visualize a photographer, is it a man or woman? It probably depends on your most recent contact with one. But when you look at a photograph, can you tell whether it was taken by a man or a woman? Probably not. So, at least on one side of the lens, it doesn't make a difference that the photographer is a woman.

So why is it important to talk about women and photography? Because, according to a recent study conducted at the University of California at Irvine, women's brains are different than men's.

The study found that women have more "white matter" than men. White matter handles the connections of the brain's processing centers. Men, on the other hand, have more "gray matter" than women. Gray matter controls the information processing centers in the brain. According to Rex Jung, a neuropsychologist and co-author of the study, "this may help to explain why men tend to excel in tasks requiring more local processing (like mathematics), while women tend to excel at integrating and assimilating information from distributed gray-matter regions in the brain, such as required for language facility." Although different, the study found that both types of brain designs are "capable of producing equivalent intellectual performance."

It therefore makes sense that when women think and learn about photography, and even when they take photos, their approach is different than men's. What should women photographers do, then, with this information?

First, women should acknowledge and celebrate their differences. There is no right way to approach photography, as long as it works for you. Don't try to imitate male photographers, and certainly don't be uncomfortable with how you shoot. Second, study the work of women photographers who were pioneers, such as Imogen Cunningham and Dorothea Lange, as well as current women photographers such as Linde Waidhofer, Lisl Dennis and Joyce Tenneson. They may have created easier paths for you to follow.

Most important, you should look for support as a woman photographer. There are organizations that specifically serve the needs of women photographers. A primary example is "Women in Photography International." Its mission is to promote the visibility of women photographers and their work through a variety of programs, exhibitions, juried competitions and publications.

Seek programs like that provided by the Professional Photographers of America ("P.P.A."). It held its 2nd annual "Women in Photography Retreat" this past August. The purpose of the event was to "embark on an exciting journey of self-discovery . . . to forge new friendships, cultivate your strengths, and shape strategies for your personal, professional and creative development in a relaxing, stress free resort." You also should evaluate your situation. Does your local camera club involve you as a woman photographer? Do you get the support you need from your friends and family? You may have to make some careful choices about your associates if they don't encourage your art.

Likewise, you should examine whether you are getting the photography instruction that you need. It doesn't have to come from a woman for it to help you. Choose photography workshops that offer the opportunity to share the passion and inspiration with all photographic artists in a welcoming environment. Finally, you should use your female advantage in photography. There are the obvious areas. You can be in the bride's dressing room and you can make a connection with the crying baby. There are the less obvious items, too. You can "communicate" with the person who speaks a different language, connect with the wild animal or see the unique lines of the landscapes. Let your vision expand to its fullest, female state.

This is not to suggest that you become a ranting feminist photographer. The art of photography is to be cherished and appreciated, regardless of whether it is done by a woman or a man. The point is that photography has no gender. As a photographer, you should create superb images of enduring quality. The viewer won't care who it came from. Don't let any artificial designations get in your way. But you also should acknowledge, celebrate, explore and nourish your difference. You may be pleased with what you discover.

Copyright 2005 Carolyn E. Wright


Carolyn Wright is a professional photographer with an active portrait, event and nature photography business. Shooting for 25 years, her award-winning images have been used in books and corporate marketing materials. Her wildlife photos will be included in the upcoming book, "Captivating Wildlife - Images from the Top Ten Emerging Wildlife Photographers" by Scott Bourne and David Middleton. She also is working with Scott Bourne on "Wolfscapes," a photo book documenting the beauty and strength of wolves. Her wildlife images can be viewed at

On the faculty of Olympic Mountain School of Photography, Carolyn's passion is enhanced when teaching photography. She enjoys writing and speaking on the subject, as well, and is a regular columnist for PhotoFocus, an online magazine for serious photographers.

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at


The top 10 sights at The Photography Show 2018 | TechRadar
We had crowds, we had blizzards, but at The Photography Show 2018 we also saw some amazing camera kit.
Who Invented the Camera? A Lesson in the History of PhotographyMy Modern Met

all 3 news articles »

My Modern Met

Photographer Spends Years Capturing Incredible Up-Close Photos of Brown Bears
My Modern Met
Kamchatka, a peninsula located in the Russian Far East, is a fascinating land. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Okhotsk, filled with volcanoes, its subarctic temperatures have piqued the interest of explorers since the 17th century. But it ...
This Photographer Deleted His Social Media with 1.5 Million FollowersPetaPixel (blog)
Photography of Clarence White on display at Davis MuseumThe Patriot Ledger
Start a Beauty Revolution Through The Ways of Diane ArbusResource Magazine
Livemint -Huddersfield Examiner -Aiken Standard
all 30 news articles »

McDermotts Continue Photography Passion on Trip to Middle East
EAGAN, Minn. – With a 2017 African safari in the rearview mirror, Kevin and Lauren McDermott's most recent journey took them to the sand dunes of the Middle East. The Vikings long snapper and his wife share an affinity for adventure, a wanderlust ...

The State Press

ASU student documents her own medical journey through ...
The State Press
ASU journalism student and photographer Anya Magnuson has been documenting her medical journey through a camera lens.

and more »

Hollywood Reporter

'Isle of Dogs': The Environmental Photography That Inspired the Set
Hollywood Reporter
"The environmental critique was always at the forefront of our design process," he said, noting that the Isle of Dogs team took inspiration from two particular photographers who have devoted much of their work to capturing the impacts of waste on the ...
Wes Anderson's 'Isle of Dogs' is often captivating, but cultural sensitivity gets lost in translationLos Angeles Times

all 187 news articles »

Akron Leader Publications

Photography, sculpture focus of new exhibit at Akron Art Museum
Akron Leader Publications
Birchfield's work in photography and sculpture is the focus of a new exhibition, Jerry Birchfield: Asleep in the Dust, at the Akron Art Museum. According to museum officials, the exhibit, the artist's first solo museum show, will run March 24 through ...


Making Money From Photography is Really Hard, But It Can Be ...
There are simply no shortcuts to building a career as a freelance photographer. Making money out of something you love is really hard, but it absolutely can be done. But before we get into how let's just acknowledge that we photographers have had it a ...

and more »

6 Pet Photography Tips
Snapping photos of your friends is as easy as telling them to smize. Getting your pets to prepare for their closeup? Well, that's a whole different beast. A BarkBox study found that dog owners post about their furry friends up to six times a week ...

and more »

Brenham Banner Press

Bluebonnets keep local photographer busy
Brenham Banner Press
Brenham photographer Ashley Jones Lonset loves that story. The legend was translated into a children's book she read to her daughters Marley and Davis and her son Norman. Norman is just four years old, so he is likely more interested in his Clifford ...

Google News

home | site map | Seashell Photography
© 2006