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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Come On Girls, Let's Take PIX!

She's young!  She's blonde!  She's cute!  She's the embodiment of women photographers!

There’s been blowback against Nielsen and PDN on FB and Twitter for their proposed new magazine, PIX, aimed at women photographers.  And more here and here .

With stories like:

"Smudge-proof makeup tips for long days behind the camera"

"Seasonal Flats: these flats will keep your feet covered, comfortable and cute while you're on photo shoots,"
and stories on wedding photography and photographing newborns, you might think you had traveled back in time.  It’s easy to think that, but what really gets my blood boiling, is that once again, women are being marginalized.

Yes, we may be half of the population (and yes, we hold up half the sky), but why do we need to be singled out?  And why, once again are we being told that shopping is an integral part of a profession?  We've been bombarded by TV shows about weddings, wedding dresses, wedding as competition, by “Bad Girls Clubs,” and fame through Internet sex tapes; by the recent rape “jokes” of a so-called comedian, and by major magazine stories like TIME’s “Are You Mom Enough?” (to single out just a few).  It's as if there never was a feminist movement.

And for every strong woman in the public eye there is a story commenting on her hair, her looks, why she’s a bitch, or how nice her clothes are.  All of MSM is responsible, but they are not alone.  The “girlization” (I didn’t make that up) of females in our society has been going on for a while now.  And as much as I love the craft world, and the attention to décor and design, they focus so much on “cuteness.”  Since their primary audience is women, they also take part in making all women seem only focused on shopping and the home.  They make women seem non-threatening and they put women in their place.

"If you love to snap photos, chances are you're pretty creative and artsy about the rest of your world too," writes Pix's Editor-in-Chief. "It's important to you that your business is modern and cool, you've always got an eye out for hip clothing and accessories, and looking professional and shooting well are top priorities." 

In the past year photographers have been kidnapped, assaulted, and killed.  Women photographers have had to defend themselves against claims that they shouldn't shoot what they do.  Will smudge-proof makeup” or “luminous lenses” help in Syria?  Ask Lynsey Addario, or Stephanie Sinclair, or Kate Brooks, or any number of women what they think. Do you think Margaret Bourke-White was worried about her mascara when she photographed Buchenwald? When did selling clothing and accessories become a cash cow for a photography-focused media company?

When we look around, all we see are efforts to defame and marginalize women.  It’s not just the Taliban who keep women down.  Republicans around the country are proposing and passing laws to keep women pregnant; to keep them without access to healthcare or child care or jobs training, or anything that might help propel them forward. Rape is still used as a tool of war.

This is such a blatant attempt to jump on the selling bandwagon, to appeal to young women who are obsessed with what they wear and with buying the perfect things they use, women who "take pictures" of pretty things.  Not woman who are professional photographers, or who aspire to be.

Is this the best Neilsen can come up with to make more money?  Have they run out of contest categories?  It makes photography seems like just a flirtation, and not a means of giving voice, and certainly not a real career. In this struggling economy, just making a living as a photographer is hard enough, now you have to worry that your makeup is right?

Surprised?  No.  Disgusted?  Yes.  Think this is going to stop anytime soon?

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Anonymous Brian Ach said...

Funny, I took a screen shot of this cover yesterday with the intention of posting in to FB and commenting on it.

I think the cover shot, of a styled, perky girl with a (probable) consumer camera (we're all photographers now, get it?) with a definite kit lens pretty much says it all.

I can hear the voices at the concept meeting now:

"We need to make more money. Can we come up with another contest that encompasses...everything?"

"No, we have already done that."

"I've got it! Combine "Real Simple," "The Knot," "Cosmopolitan," and "Popular Photography!"

"Great idea! We'll fill it with useless stuff about 'photography,' targeting women--articles like this:
"Get Stronger," "Shoot in Style," "Makeup Tips for Behind the Camera," and "Craft Projects!"

"Awesome! All of the articles will subtly imply that women have no understanding about photography, and they are more interested in looking cute and taking Pix! Get it? Pix! Awesome title!"

"Right, it'll be just like the girl mags that subtly demean women and their body image etc. except this will be photography! No serious information, just candy corn soundbites that read like a FB post!"

Seriously, though, the women photographers I know (and I know a lot) would most likely laugh at this obvious money-grab, and burn it.

The girls I know carry two bodies, a 70-200, 24-70, 12-24, flash or two, and a laptop. And that is a light day.

They set up studio shots with famous people, shoot concerts from the pit, file shots on the fly, and generally do it with their own style and flair, while being highly professional and excellent shooters.

They don't need to know about "50 Irresistible Accessories." They are more concerned about technique and getting the shot that counts--and that includes even the wedding shooters and amateurs I know.

But to imply that women are not strong enough to do photography; are more concerned with what they wear while shooting rather than genuine photographic knowledge; and are more interested in "color trends" and being "artsy" than in F-stops and RAW files, is a disservice and embarrassing.

July 11, 2012  
Blogger said...

I live breathe and dream about working day and night, not about how to keep my eyeliner on while I'm working. I shake hands with the salesmen in B&H (I insist they do it or I shop elsewhere,) I carry a 90 lb gear bag, speak 4 languages, fly business class, shoot covers, get injured, sweat, swear and work like a man. When I'm insulted with a smutty comment at a rental house, I insist on an immediate apology. I employ 3-9 people in any given week. I carry more business insurance than most auto mechanics. I work as hard and as successfully as any man; I should be paid and respected like one, too.

This rag will eventually end up where all the other fem-tech mags go, in the compost, or belly up.

July 11, 2012  
Blogger Gisizee said...

This really is disgusting, however unsurprising. And here I thought photography was about seeing, not about being seen, that the camera was an amazing means of capturing, interpreting, expressing and sharing the truth and beauty of the world around us, not the latest cool fashion accessory. But whatever my thoughts and accomplishments, I'm just a silly girl, so what do I know?

Thanks for this post.

July 11, 2012  
Blogger Big Lac said...

I'm glad you are writing about this because when I saw it I just assumed it was a parody. Like something from Funny or Die, or My Damn Channel or something.

July 11, 2012  
Anonymous John MacPherson said...

I've been teaching night classes in photography for a decade, and leading workshop groups for over twenty years.

The average class I've taught has had more women than men. Many classes have had only women. NO class has ever had only men.

In my experience the average male participant has a big bag of the latest kit and is concerned with the techy stuff.

The average woman participant has cared far less about chromatic aberration and although occasionally in possession of the latest kit, has cared more about the compositional elegance and emotional impact of their work.

They have also been the most open to discussion about how class work makes them feel and I have to say have consistently produced the most thought-provoking and insightful work.

I had to look twice at my diary to see if this was an April 1st. announcement. Sadly its not.

Women deserve better. Much much better than this crap.

John MacPherson (a bloke)

July 12, 2012  
Anonymous Gregg said...

Sadly, this new magazine product admits that photography is greatly diminished as a profession. It establishes the photographer as an actor playing the part of a photographer, ratcheting up the glamor and glitz, and downplaying the studied art form. This is photography at play. Strapping on a costume and playing make believe. Barbi photographer.

July 14, 2012  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Stella-
(errrr - my long comment got erased when I tried Previewing it.) This will be shorter...
It's demeaning and insulting to create a "fashion" magazine for women photogs, as if all the existing "women's" mags don't already cover the same topics. Having a look around, some of the guys could use a few tips themselves.... ;-)
There have always been ways that photography and it's gear have been made 'fashionable', like when Olympus came out years ago with their "O" Camera and it was used in ads and TV shows, as a fashion accessory. It was a hot item as a result.
It doesn't surprise me that Nielsen and PDN would try creating another way to make money off photography. what's new...

I'm a bit tired of the comments on how much equipment and how heavy a bag one needs to carry to be defined "professional". Excuse me for saying, but, how many male (used pointedly) Magnum photographers carried Leicas with a wide angle lens and had their amazing images published and sold? Look at your history...

Good going Stella for speaking your mind on a (still) hot topic. Perhaps in our lifetime the need to differentiate male and female photographers will disappear. maybe?

July 14, 2012  
Blogger george elsasser said...

Inane, low brow money grabbing behavior like the media sound bite term "sign of the times" - sorry to those who like that term when I hear it I am terrified someone switched my TV from PBS to Entertainment Tonight.

My God it is pathetic - call Nikon tell them to start making pocket books that look like cameras. What - cause it is "a sign of the times." What times do you mean "Mad Men" times. On second thought I never saw this - do not feed it - it is alive and that is scary.

July 17, 2012  

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