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Why Is a Photojournalist’s Gender Relevant to Their Work?
Posted By Paul Melcher On May 9, 2011 @ 12:05 am In Photojournalism | 24 Comments
I’ve never been able to identify a photojournalist’s gender from the photos she takes. Have you?
When Margaret Bourke-White photographed the Nazi death camps for Life magazine, no one cared if she was a woman or not. Her images told the story and that was that.
So why is it so important for some photographers to define themselves as “women photojournalists,” rather than simply as “photojournalists”?
Creeping Political Correctness
More and more today, I come across cooperatives, workshops and panels for women photographers only. As if gender had something to do with the photojournalistic process.
It seems that political correctness has now started to reach the shores of the previously sexless island of photography. It appears that some people, with a highly developed social conscience, want you to know the gender of the photographer whose picture you admire.
As if it made any difference.
Readers hardly glance at a photo credit, so why would they care ? Photo editors — the good ones at least — are gender-blind as long as a story is well told visually.
An Ill-Conceived Distraction
So who is behind this, and why ?
I suspect it’s an ill-considered effort at self-preservation at a time when our profession is struggling to find its way. Communicate that women photographers are more sensitive to human misery, or more in tune with certain subjects. Persuade women photo editors to hire women photographers.
It’s bad enough that photographers segregate themselves by specialty, calling themselves “sports photographers” or “news photographers” or “celebrity photographers.”
Now women are supposed to label themselves “women photographers,” too? It’s a silly distraction at best.
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