Photographic forums on the internet are dominated by men. The general perception among the public is that photographers are male. However, if one pays attention, it is obvious that this not true, if it ever was beyond the natural gender divisions of society at any given time.
In studying the history of photography, one can go back to the 19th Century’s Julia Margaret Cameron. Then, on to the 20th Century, the “Golden Age” of photography to some; and you have Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke-White, Imogen Cunningham, Dorothea Lange, Ruth Bernhard, et al. In the 1930’s, four of the eleven original members of Group f/64 (arguably the most influential photography movement of the era) were women: Cunningham, Consuelo Kanaga, Alma Lavenson, and Sonya Noskowiak.
In the 21st Century, all one has to do when out in public is pay attention. Who is out there shooting all those senior pictures, weddings and baby photos? Often, it’s women. In fact, being a part-time “professional” photographer may be the new thing for stay at home moms, as real estate agent once was.
But, let’s not discuss the working commercial shooter, or the young housewife with a Canon Rebel who shoots a few pregnancy portraits. Let’s talk artists.
If you don’t believe photography is art, you can stop reading; I won’t waste your time.
I wrote earlier this year about meeting women photographers at Photostock 2015 (blog post), especially people like Lori Vrba or Christina Anderson, whose philosophy and approach to their photographic art inspires me greatly. Locally (North Texas), there is Amy Holmes George and Laura Wilson, just to name two.
What I see that all of these women (and others) have in common is the willingness to be more adventurous with photography than most of the male photographers I know. There’s very little of the same old rocks and trees with them. They also care more about images than gear or processes. This, too, is refreshing.
On December 8, Sally Mann appeared at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth to do a reading from her new memoir. It was not a photographic presentation, but did yield insight into her life as artist. Earlier in the afternoon, we walked the block west to the Amon Carter Museum to see the Laura Wilson show currently hanging. Breathtaking black and white silver gelatin prints!
I’ll write more about these two separately in the near future. For now, I would urge anyone to visit the Amon Carter to see Wilson’s show. And to look into Sally Mann and other contemporary women photographers to see what they can teach us about art – with or without a camera.