Photographer stereotypes

Posted on November 27, 2013


The landscape photographer work has got me thinking about what a stereotypical landscape might look like. I’ve been doing a little research on gender and landscape photography.

In Land Matters Liz Wells suggests that “…limited attention was paid to gender and landscape in these debates [on feminist theory]. In the UK one reason for this lay in the relative absence of British women, aside from Fay Godwin, who had become well known as landscape photographers…” She goes on to discuss the various reasons why this may have occurred but does not reach any strong conclusions.

There is a very useful paper ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists’ by Linda Nochlin see here.  Nochlin suggests that the principle reason is that it is “institutionally made impossible for women to achieve artistic excellence, or success, on the same footing as men, no matter what the potency of their so called talent or genius’. In other words our patriarchal society is geared up to support male artists and women simply are not given the same opportunities and support. I think that historically this has also been the case for women photographers and particularly so for landscape photographers. 

In recent times there is much more awareness of the societal need for equality. In the art world the Guerrilla Girls have been tireless campaigners since 1985. This is one of their posters dating back to 1989:

©Guerrilla Girls

©Guerrilla Girls

I’ve just bought their book, so more to come on this subject. (see here). Anne suggested them as a possible source of information.

Awareness is one thing. Translating this into tangible results is another. Meet Nikon’s Ambassadors:

Nikon's Ambassadors courtesy of Petapixel

Nikon’s Ambassadors

And Canon’s Explorers of Light:

Canon's Explorers of Light courtesy of Petapixel

Canon’s Explorers of Light

These photographs speak for themselves. They came from an article entitled ‘Photography’s Old White Guy Problem’on the Photoshelter website (here). Read it and make up your own mind.

The research I’ve conducted to date certainly supports my idea of focusing on women photographers with a view to trying to make a point about discrimination…but will the viewers get the point?

Oh and what does a stereotypical Landscape Photographer look like…..’Old White Guy’ certainly seems to fit the bill!