Where are all the Women Landscape Photographers ?

Admittedly I’m aware that photography is often seen as a male dominated space, yet in the two camera clubs I am or have been members of in the last 5 years, the audience has been usually 50% women, sometimes more.  Women from teenagers up to retirees of varying ages too.

So I was a little surprised to come across this article by an American photographer who happens to be a big fan of NZ, I was admiring his photos enough to spend some time reading his blog.  In essence he queries why he sees so few women exhibiting work in landscape photography in places he shares his work.

Reading the comments (mostly from women) was somewhat enlightening and also sad.  Too many have other calls on their time with family commitments but many seemed to be afraid to venture out into unknown spaces or be out with their camera alone.  I found this particular concept initially very strange to deal with because I have no qualms myself about being out alone with my gear, but it has to be noted I live in a country where personal safety is generally a given, and we don’t have critters that are out to get you one way or another. Of course being single with no kids means my time is mine to do whatever I like with, an uncommon freedom for a lot of other women.

Driving the Inland Kaikoura – Waiau Road in summer

Doing a bit of digging online, other women photographers have mused on the subject too, the comment that women tend to cluster and have a preference for workshops is interesting to me, because when out seriously shooting I absolutely prefer to do it alone.

Yes I have attended workshops and greatly enjoyed them, often learning in a group is a more beneficial way to transfer information, if you don’t quite get something the tutor has explained, another person can sometimes translate.  Or a new concept might arise out of group discussion.

But I don’t want someone else there while I’m planning and thinking and deciding where to line up a shot.  Holding me back if I do decide to clamber down a dodgy looking cliff or questioning my choices.  Yes from a safety point of view, having someone handy is sensible, but I carry my cellphone, and try not to be too idiotic (or text my BFF where they can recover the body if I do make a bad call LOL).  I have had a few scares I will admit.

Sunrise on Moeraki Boulders

However it must be confessed that my excursions are more of the driving to a destination and clambering about on the beach, or walking up to a scenic point or waterfall.  Being a lazy slothful creature who enjoys a good sleepin and misses all the good sunsets, hiking for miles up and down mountains is not my idea of a good time. Having said that, there are plenty of opportunities for falling or injuring myself to be had, and I am generally fairly careful and cautious but I do also push my limits, its one of the ways photography challenges me, that passion for *the* image drives me to go further and push harder than I normally would.

And that feeling you get when you have got THE SHOT, and you had to scramble and climb and bleed a little to get it, to know you took a chance, climbed a hill for a different viewpoint, took your shoes and socks off and waded into the middle of a river for a better composition.  That feeling makes my soul a little warmer, makes me more real.  That feeling…… priceless!

Stewart Island in the distance, Mataura River in the foreground

Take this shot above of Stewart Island, to get here its 7 hours drive from home, so I planned a roadtrip for my Xmas holidays last year.  Just me, the car, camera, iPod and a LOT of driving – over 2000 km for an 9 day trip.  I had an absolute blast driving through fantastic countryside, planning trips to special scenic areas, enjoying good walks through native forest, viewing waterfalls and fossil forests and penguins.  Got sunburned, hot sweaty and rumpled and didn’t care.  Didn’t even have cell coverage for most of it. Fabulous holiday!  Planning to do it again this year somewhere else 🙂

Beach Reflection on Cape Foulwind

My more recent trip to Cape Foulwind was a group event organised by one of my Camera Clubs, eight of us travelled 5 hrs across the South Island to this remote and stunningly beautiful part of NZ for a three day photography fieldtrip.  This time I got to spend time with other photographers, a group of us climbed very carefully down a quite vertical cliff (on our bottoms on the more slippery parts) to the beach featured above and had a wonderful afternoon pottering around doing our thing, discussions were had about composition and lighting and we would wander off as it suited, catching up for more discussion about new features to shoot.

Was a lovely time and I greatly enjoyed the interaction.  But my best photos were taken while I was out by myself, with the time to work uninterrupted and get my head in the space I needed it to be in.

So why are so many women not venturing into the outdoors?  Why not organise a babysitter for an afternoon so you can have some quality time with your camera?  Why not plan a girls weekend out of town somewhere scenic you can wander around for an afternoon while the girls shop or soak in hot pools? Does landscape not interest or challenge other women?

Is fitness an issue or carrying the heavy camera gear and tripod a challenge? Do other women genuinely not enjoy time alone in the outdoors?  Does the thought of driving for hours to get somewhere interesting and different put you off?  Could finances be a challenge?

Why is it that in comparison to men, fewer women answer the call of landscape photography? I only recently started to get serious about landscapes myself, driven by the long anticpated acquisition of my UWA 10-22 lens so I am pleased to be out there, doing my thing out there in the great outdoors 🙂  Could it be the technical side of things that is a challenge – I still struggle with working out hyperfocal lengths and really just wing it and I was afraid of my tripod and didn’t use it for months after I bought it (seriously, really was!).

I wonder if the ultimate call is about priority, for many women they choose to make other things a priority in their life, children, partners, other hobbies etc.  Photography is a discipline that does require a certain investment in time and lets face it, finances as well.  Still the same could be said about having children too.  Its such a creative outlet I struggle to see if social stigma would be applied for women venturing into serious photography.   Is it the thought of failing, the time it takes to master the art and produce good work that is a turn off?  Again, a common theme in any new challenge.

So ladies, genuinely interested here, is Landscape Photography your thing?  If not, why not?

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About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
This entry was posted in Camera Adventures, Waffle and Burbling and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Where are all the Women Landscape Photographers ?

  1. earthstills says:

    I guess I’m with you on this one!

  2. Beautiful gallery and I think the genders seem quite equal at least on word press~

    • lensaddiction says:

      Well they always say getting women to shut up is the challenge 🙂 and blogging is a free for all platform so I would hope we would embrace that as a comunication avenue. But have a look in the photography section of your local bookstore and see how many landscape books are published by women. Honestly I struggle to think of one!

  3. I love landscape photography (and ain’t I a woman?) even more so since I live in an extremely beautiful location. How could I not want to photograph nature’s curves and textures and play of light. That being said, I don’t mind going out alone on a photo shoot. I actually prefer it because then I can stop wherever I want, spend as much time as I want and not have to worry about somebody else getting bored. My second choice is having my husband as a driver because he really doesn’t mind stopping whenever I tell him to. He can let me out quickly and then find a more convenient spot to stop the car and wait for me. But I found that sometimes I don’t ask him to stop because it would have been stop no. 24 and I am thinking he might get tired of it even though he reassures me he doesn’t. And there goes a beautiful picture…
    There have been times when things got a bit dicey on my own – like when I got lost for a little in the woods or a rough looking bunch of guys passed by SLOWLY in their beat-up truck. When I go wandering in the woods with my camera, I often take my pepper spray with me just in case there’s a rabid four-legged creature (or, god forbid, a two-legged one)….

    • lensaddiction says:

      I have been lucky and not had any bad situations with people, and we don’t have critters that are dangerous here (other than the two legged ones) so its a lot easier to feel safe I guess. Its nice your husband is happy to play co driver, I understand your reluctance to stop for the 24th time, I have that myself sometimes at the end of a long day LOL, But I am with you, I so much prefer being out by myself, wind in my hair, bugs in my teeth!

  4. Fresh Ginger says:

    It’s my thing — I’m out here.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Yay! Why is it your thing? Do you find it a bit of a mans world and ignore them and get on with doing it your way?

      • Fresh Ginger says:

        I had not totally noticed but … ya … it’s an older man’s sport, too. It seems that retired old guys can afford the equipment and usually know a lot about birds/animals. Go figure. I don’t think much of it in that sense. Most of the local guys here are pretty welcoming and helpful. Now, the younger guys that do studio work, etc, they don’t have that same attitude. That’s more of a dog eat dog world, in my opinion. I think that has a lot more to do with who is struggling to make a living and who is doing it for hobby/fun/enjoyment. I also don’t make my living doing landscape but every now and then I sell something and it gives me a good ego boost.

      • lensaddiction says:

        I have yet to sell anything but I look forward to the day when I do. Totally get your point about the older guy being able to afford the kit and the time as well, I see that a bit but not as much, we have lots of younger guys keen on the outdoors here in NZ 🙂

      • Fresh Ginger says:

        NZ has so much to offer–it seems the photography would be endless. Good luck to you!

      • lensaddiction says:

        Thankyou, yes it does have much to offer, but a bit of driving required to get to a lot of it 🙂

      • Fresh Ginger says:

        Especially from here. Nevada.

      • lensaddiction says:

        LOL yes I guess it does 🙂

  5. Margie says:

    I”m serious about what I photograph, but I’m not a serious photographer. I’m strictly a ‘point and shoot’ gal, so have a couple of very good cameras that let me work that way. Maybe someday I will delve into the strange world of aperture and such things! But for now, I’m just as likely to photograph the landscape as I am the bee on a flower near my foot. It is all just so amazing!

    • lensaddiction says:

      Being serious about what you photograph makes you a photographer, its not about the kit but what you do with it that counts 🙂

  6. Tiffany says:

    Just bought myself a camera- I’ve been waiting for years!! Would love some feedback on the first shots i’ve taken. Thanks. Here is a link. indivisualphotography.tumblr.com

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hi Tiffany, had a quick look, there were a couple of shots in the calm before the storm series I liked but the light was a bit flat. You had some nice images in there but I am going to guess that they were shot in JPEG and not processed much out of the camera? Learning about post processing would be a nice idea, its when you can take a nice image and add a bit of WOW into it 🙂

      Honest critique of your tumblr – are you wanting to show off your photography as a highlight? If so photos of friends and family clearly avoiding the camera is probably not a good look, maybe another stream for those shots?

  7. Tiffany says:

    What do you mean by post processing? Do you mean like editing my photos on a program, such as Photoshop?
    Thanks for the feedback!

    • lensaddiction says:

      Yes thats exactly what I mean, but something like Lightroom is a specialist program for photographers thats LOTS cheaper than PS and easier to use. As an example the picture of your partner turned to face the camera with the sunset behind him – you could select his face area and brighten the exposure a bit so you could see more detail, at the moment his face is really a dark blob. A little tweaking of the details can really make a big difference 🙂 I might do a post on it using one of my pics as an example.

  8. I do like landscape photography, although maybe to be more honest I would say nature photography. My camera club is very much male dominated. Not sure why that is. I do have to say though, I like going out on my own a lot, but I do always let someone know where I am. I would say that I definitely have personal safety concerns, but I guess I just try to manage them.

  9. Leanne Cole says:

    Interesting post, I must admit I don’t go by myself a lot, usually because I like to have company. I do go with a friend a lot and she is always happy to go where I want and do what I want, she just likes the opportunity to get out and take photos, so I still get to go where I want and do what I want, but I have company as well. I have gone out on my own, and am getting to a stage where I realise I need to just start doing it. Though I think your comments about children and such are a bit stereotypical, I do have children, but they are adults now and they aren’t what is stopping, they never have been. It is usually my own laziness, I know if I make a date to go with a friend, then I will go, often if I plan something on my own, I back out, find some reason not to go. I need to work on that more.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Its nice that you have a friend who likes to tag along and give you some company and the space to do your thing.

      I schedule myself small holiday road trips where I go somewhere I havent been before specifically to take my camera and spend time looking around an area. Doesnt have to cost a fortune, I stay in camping grounds and B&B and take a lot of my own food.

      Its a great way to get around!

      • Leanne Cole says:

        That is a great idea and something I would like to do more of. Even if I just go for overnight stays so I can do some early morning stuff.
        I like going up to my mums and exploring, I can use her place as a base and move out, have only just started up there, so a lot more to explore.

  10. Valerie says:

    It’s my thing for sure. I hike and backpack into any location that interests me photographically/artistically. I travel the Southwestern, United States alone or just with my dog. I also know many many very fine female landscape photographers who do the same. I’m published in this months (August 2014) Outdoor Photographer Magazine, so it’s not like we are hiding 🙂 http://valmillett.blogspot.com

  11. Pingback: Landscape Spotlight: Wonderful Women Photographers You Should Know – Marie Gardiner

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