Only 15% of news photographers are women: World Press Photo/Reuters Institute survey of photojournalists

Only 15% of news photographers are women. source: World Press Photo and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism
Only 15% of news photographers are women. source: World Press Photo and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Last year, World Press Photo and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism published the results of an online survey of 1556 photographers who entered the 2015 World Press Photo annual competition, and the results are fascinating. The report, entitled The State of News Photography: The Lives andLivelihoods of Photojournalists in the Digital Age (← pdf), looks at the demographics of photographers, how for whom they work, how much they are paid, how the ethics of journalism and manipulation figure into their work, and other topics. The whole report is worth a look.

Particularly interesting in the report are the breakdowns of photojournalists by gender. Of the respondents, only 15% were women. Self-employment is much higher among women; 79.2% of women who responded to the survey are self-employed, while only 55.9% of men are. There is a higher percentage of female photographers than men in the lowest income bracket, earning between $0 and $29,999 from photography, and likewise proportionally fewer women than men in the highest income bracket reported in the study.

Of course, this is not a new problem, nor, frankly, is it surprising. I wrote about the issue in 2013, when a tumblr post by Daniel Shea, called On Sexism in Editorial Photography, went viral. Shea’s post has disappeared, but it’s preserved on the dvafoto tumblr, and it’s worth revisiting. Likewise, some of the links in my post about Shea’s piece have been lost to history, but many still exist and still deserve consideration. Looking at the WPP/Reuters Institute survey, it seems like things haven’t changed much since 2013.

Despite the disappointing results of this survey, it’s worth celebrating the tremendous work done by women photographers around the world. ViewFind recently published a great collection of what they call The Mighty 15%. The New York Times’ Women in the World earlier this month asked, “What’s at stake when so few of [stories from around the world] are told by women.” The Photo Brigade held a panel discussion in February about women in photojournalism. Last year, BuzzFeed posted about 12 Kick-Ass Women Photojournalists To Follow On Instagram. Ruth Fremson wrote an honest and thought-provoking piece on the subject in July of last year. And organizations such as Firecracker, the Inge Morath Foundation, and Women Photojournalists of Washington, provide vital support to women in photography.

There is one possibly positive note on the gender disparity in photojournalism in the WPP/Reuters Institute report. 49.6% of women who responded said that they “mostly” have control over the editing and production of their work. Only 37.9% of men said the same. The report attributes this to the self-employed/employee results in the survey, but it’s nice to see that 88.7% of women report “sometimes” or “mostly” having authority over their own work.

Must listen: A Small Voice podcast – Ben Smith talks with photographers

A Small Voice - Conversations with Photographers - A podcast by Ben Smith
A Small Voice – Conversations with Photographers – A podcast by Ben Smith

You have got to listen to Ben Smith‘s new podcast, A Small Voice. There have been thirteen episodes so far. I’ve only listened to one–the first, with long-time favorite Ian Teh–but that was enough to know it will be essential listening. The website is a little confusing; the email subscription and donation section sits on top of links to episodes. First, make a donation, but then scroll down to the episodes where you can find conversations with the likes of Vanessa Winship, Kalpesh Lathigra (previously on dvafoto), Guy Martin, Peter Dench, Abbie Trayler Smith, and others.

I’ve long been a fan of Ian Teh, and the episode with him did not disappoint. He speaks about how he got into photography, why he photographers in color, how he approaches subjects, the thinking and process that goes into making his books, early formative experiences and influences, and so on. But somehow it’s not a conversation about photography. Photography is a big part of the discussion, certainly, but instead the episode is more like an examination of Teh’s relationship with the world. Just do yourself a favor and listen.

You can subscribe to the podcast on itunes.


On the podcast front, check out Abbas’ recent interview on NPR’s Fresh Air. Other photography podcasts I’ve found that are generally worth a listen are The LPV Show (free-ranging discussions with photographers) and The Photo Brigade podcast (mostly American photographers and editors).

I also recently wrote about some of my favorite non-photography podcasts.

“Welcome to the Winogrand Circus” – Gary Winogrand speaks to students at Rice University

In the video (embedded above), Gary Winogrand speaks to Rice University students for nearly two hours in Geoff Winningham‘s class. Winningham still teaches at Rice.

It’s Winningham who introduces Winogrand, saying “Welcome to the Winogrand circus,” and then Winogrand asks for questions from the students. He talks about how he works, his approach to different subjects, and the work of other photographers (Robert Frank, Walker Evans, Bruce Davidson–at 21:44: “[East 100th Street] is sickening…morally, it’s sickening, and photographically it’s just a goddamned bore,” and others). It’s a wide-ranging and very informal talk, but offers a fascinating perspective from Winogrand about his own work and others’.

If you don’t have two hours to spare right now, check out the 16-minute highlight reel (which doesn’t have any footage of Winogrand himself) at the National Gallery of Art.

And searching for this video today, I ran across this question and answer session at MIT with Winogrand in 1974. It starts with a short lecture by Tod Papageorge. There’s a transcript in an old post at 2point8 or on Google Docs. Winogrand’s often a bit enigmatic. Asked about whether he still likes some of his older pictures, he responds, “The one’s I’m interested in, I’m interested in. That’s all I can say.” Some of the audience members aren’t too happy with the vague responses and ask him why he’s answering questions the way he does. It’s a fun listen.

Of course, there’s also this short piece from the 1982 documentary Contemporary Photography in the USA showing Winogrand at work.

I’ve been meaning to share this video of Winogrand since I saw it first early last year. It made the rounds a bit, but it’s worth revisiting. A post on metafilter today reminded me of it.