It used to be that photojournalism could be done by everyone. Lately, this seem to have shifted.

When Bob Capa decided to go cover the Spanish civil war, he took with him ( or was it the opposite ?), photographer Gerda Taro. Probably because she died much earlier than Capa ( in 1937), her work is less extensive and much lesser known.

When Margaret Bourke – White photographed the Death Camps at the end of World War II for Life magazine, no one cared if she was a woman or not. Her images told the story and that was that.

Today, more and more, it seems that photojournalism wants to define itself by its gender. More and more, do you see cooperative, workshop, panels, etc for women photographers only. As if your gender was  influential in your photo-journalistic process . Who are we trying to fool ?

I have worked with many, many women photojournalist and I can tell you that if i hadn’t known, I would have never been able to tell the gender by just looking at the images. There is the same talent, or lack of, whether you wear a skirt or not .

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 develop social conscience, want you to know what sex was that photographer whose picture you admire. As if it made any difference.

Readers hardly read a photo credit, so why would they care ? Photo editors, the talented ones at least, a gender blind as long as the story is perfectly visually told. So who is behind this and why ?

And if was this was such an issue, why not create a group for black photographers, Jewish photographers, Muslim photographers, gay photographers, or left handed photographers ?

It is bad enough that photographers find the need to categorize themselves in one activity ( Sports, fashion, news, celebrity, etc..) but now they will also have to pick an appropriate social group ?

Why ?

To protect their photographer group against other photographer groups ? Or to make some kind of stupid statement that women photographers are better than men photojournalist ? or have more sensibility ? or are more tuned in other people misery ? Or is it to influence women photo editors to hire women photographers first because of gender wars ?

This self segregation of an already endangered species of artisan is not only ridiculous but pointless and harmful. It will only lead to creating a unnecessary distraction to those who only want to create, publish or view great images.

Author: pmelcher

1 Comment

  1. Paul
    A couple of comments on your post,”Photo Ghetto.”

    First, re:Margaret Bourke-White. Granted there is no gender stamp on her images but we should not forget that during the early part of the war, unlike the male photographers, she was denied access to air transportation prior to the invasion of North Africa. Access to important people and places were often a special challenge to her because she was a woman photographer.

    Second, I want to add some questions to your list to find out if there might be some real issues which would warrant the formation of these special interest groups(SIGs) in today’s world.
    Are there areas where women photojournalist are still denied access?. . e.g,. sports and combat zones?
    Are there any particular publishers or images services that still discriminate against female photojournalist?
    Are there particular areas where presence of a female journalist might be a special advantage?

    I believe that if there are real gender issues of access then the dialog should include everyone if any change in the reality is expected to come about.

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