Where are the Mistresses of Photography?

So, I’m perusing my latest issue of Digital PhotoPro, which inexplicably arrives in my mailbox monthly, though I do not subscribe.  While I did enjoy the past few months issues, which had some relevant articles that pertained to some public art projects I am thinking about, I have to say the current issue, a “Masters” special fills me with the same dread as those awful Canon ads featuring 10 white men and then a token female.  Now, I’m no bra-burner per se, but you may call me a feminist if you want – if your definition of the term means someone who believes in equal rights for women, though I do miss chivalrous attitudes – I have never minded anyone holding the door open for me, and given the state of the oceans today, fish may very well need a bicycles.  (that’s a joke people).

Technology has the world a-changing faster than ever before, but yet the world doesn’t really change in some respects.  Out of eight Masters of photography, the only master that is a mistress is a recent Brooks graduate pursuing new media.  Really?  I know, I know, it’s hard to get past the same-old, same-old Mary Ellen Marks, and oft-cited Annie Leibovitzs.   But they are out there people, they really are.  I’m not asking for some quid pro quo, no affirmative action.  I’m just asking you to get out of your broken-record headspace and realize that there are plenty of working Mistresses out there who are also Masters.  And that goes for you too Canon, and your horrific ads.

It’s great we have programs like, Women in Photography, Women Photojournalists of Washington, etc etc, but like actresses who call themselves actors, I think we all just want to be recognized as photographers, without the gender modifier. Does it not reinforce my argument that the males in our profession have felt no need to unite and have a Men in Photography group?  I live for the day when such a need will arise, and they can all take their drums and go beat them in the woods somewhere together along with their 500 mm lenses.  (another joke people).

Who are these Masters? Well deserving, I’m sure:

1. Master of the Timeless Portrait: Dan Winters

2. Master of Architectural Fashion: Richard Reinsdorf

3. Master of Making Everyone Look Good: David La Chapelle

4. Master of Outdoor Lifestyle: Michael DeYoung

5. Master of the New Media: Chase Charvis

6. Master of the New Visual Journalism: Brenda Manookin

Please feel free to leave your choices for a different Master/Mistress below.  We know they’re out there, right?

Just went to the Canon Explorers of Light website and out of 62 photographers, about 5 appear to be females (some names are ambiguous).  Really? Really? Couldn’t find any info on Nikon, but would be interested to learn.  It’s the 21st century people.


14 thoughts on “Where are the Mistresses of Photography?

  1. I cringed when I first saw the Canon ads. And DPP rarely has articles on woman photographers. Companies and periodicals need to get a clue and not rely on dated concepts of the market.


  2. Most of my favorite photographers are either females or males who embrace their feminine side.
    Here are a short list of women who rock my photo world-
    Andrea Bruce
    Jessica Dimmock
    Kathryn Cook
    Stephanie Sinclair
    Nina Berman
    Barbara Davidson
    Liz O. Baylen
    Samantha Appleton
    Melissa Lyttle
    Nicole Fruge
    Daria Endresen
    Carolyn Drake
    Ami Vitale


  3. I dunno…I kind of think you are picking on the kids on the short bus. The Digital PhotoPro mag is kinda like the magazines that used to be aimed at bearded dudes walking around with b&w in their 8 x 10’s. Just kinda dated in their views and opinions.
    Now the blogosphere seems pretty equal these days in the photo world, would you agree or no?


  4. Though sadly no longer living, and thus perhaps an unfair reference for your post, one of my favorite Masters of Location – and Attitude – will always be Berenice Abbott. I think she’d agree with you that first and foremost, you’re a photographer.

    After all, who can forget this gem: ‘When told that a nice girl should not go into tough neighborhoods like the Bowery, Abbott replied, “I’m not a nice girl, I’m a photographer.”‘


  5. thanks all for sharing your thoughts, and jess for a great quote/mantra. TA, I actually don’t think it’s picking on the kids on the short bus, because a) they are not on the short bus but fully capable human beings and b) i’m not grading on a curve here. I’m sure PDN and other more high profile mags have been guilty of the same thing in some point of time, and I’ll call them out at some point too, if I have the time and inclination. I’m not saying cancel your subscription to Digital PhotoPro, just saying, hey GUYS its not all about the GUYS. Thanks for stopping by all.


  6. I agree with you what you’re saying.
    But it goes beyond that. When I look at the comments I note that almost all the sighted mistresses are American (not that I have a problem with Americans) but doesn’t anyone look beyond this landmass?


  7. Vanessa, you are so right. We do get more representation and face time than women of other countries, less so Europe I believe than South and Central America, Mexico, the Asias, Africa. Africa? I can’t think of any master lady of photography well known outside of Jodi Bieber, and certainly no African Africans. I wish I had an answer for all this, except now with the internet it is easier to put your work out there and get some recognition. BTW I consider you a master of photography, beautiful work, and thanks for stopping by.


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