E160 Discussion: Women Panel

Again, my apologies for not keeping up on these posts! I need an assistant!

I had a lovely time moderating this panel discussion with 8 of the best landscape photographers in the world. I’d of course love to hear your thoughts!

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Hi Matt,

I listened to the podcast just yesterday. It was interesting although really not surprising. I am sure women have a tough time getting their just do in Landscape Photography, as women do in just about any field. However, I would think that when it comes to contest submissionns it wouldn’t be so obvious the entry is a female’s. I was surprised to hear that some of the panelists thought there might be bias based on sex in contest. How do the judge’s know? I would think the lack of female winners in contest would be more because there just isn’t the numbers as compared to male entries. I don’t enter contest, mostly because I think the contest are biased to those that can use photoshop the best, but I suppose if I did I’d be glad you don’t have enter an artist picture along with the entry. Anyway, it was a good podcast and I think the one lady was right, and I’m paraphrasing, when she said something about you having to ask about how women landscape photographers are treated as opposed to just asking about their art, technique and philosophy,

Thank you, @Matt_Payne, for hosting this important conversation.

As a woman who has faced discrimination and disrespect over multiple decades in the printing, publishing, and motorsports fields, as well as in photography, I started listening to this episode with apprehension. Many of the experiences shared brought up old anger and sadness at opportunities lost, both for the speakers and for all of us of whatever genders.

I appreciate that the panelists spoke openly. Women and other non-males, as well as people of color and those not financially well off often suffer alone when stepping onto a non-even playing field such as photography. To hear we are not alone can open doors in our minds that may have otherwise stayed closed.

I’m a returning photographer, so can’t speak to any of the interview questions myself. Still, I found it interesting to hear the different takes on the idea of business connections made on male-only campouts. As a business owner in the ’70s through today, it doesn’t surprise me that business ventures and other projects are initiated during relaxed gatherings. And it doesn’t surprise me at all that most of these gatherings are all male.

I wonder what could be done to change that. I was lucky enough to be part of a coed BSA Explorer post back in the day as well as Basic Mountaineering Training Course. Outings with both groups were led by adults who treated all genders respectfully, encouragingly, and equally. Might there be ways to intentionally create inclusive social gatherings of photo professionals (and non-professionals) beyond photo club outings?

As with all new ventures, I’m sure mistakes would be made – as they have been in every effort to become more inclusive. It would likely take extra effort on the parts of men to examine their behavior. Perhaps, as you said, Matt, women would be surprised how pedestrian these gatherings are. And/or, perhaps with some research, men might get a more realistic idea of what various women can find off-putting, especially compared to what various men think is harmless.

I have thoughts on many other parts of this episode, but will keep it to this right now, since I’m a newbie on this board.

Thanks again to:
Viktoria Haack
Sandra Bartocha


(Reposting under George’s post rather than as a new comment.)

Hi, George. I appreciate you stating that you’re not surprised about what you heard in the podcast. On the topic of this podcast episode: It really helps to know that more and more men understand what women can be up against.

I may be misremembering, but I thought that someone – perhaps it was Sandra Bartocha? – had looked at statistics for both competitions where credits were kept with the photos for judging and “blind” judging where they were not. As I recall, she said that the percentage of women’s images chosen in the former case were less than in the latter case. (Significantly less?)

@Matt_Payne, do you happen to recall?

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Hi Matt,

Please don’t, I hope I wasn’t misunderstood. I have complete empathy for anyone’s work not being fairly judged for any reason, sex, race, ethnicity, religion, etc. I was working in my yard cutting wood and mowing the lawn while listening and may have missed that particular explanation. I do remember hearing the survey was done but I must of misunderstood because I thought it was just for blind judging. If I were entering a contest, which I don’t for very reason that they typically want your name on back of the entry, I wouldn’t enter unless it were blind.

Thanks for responding.

Hi @Marcella - so glad you were able to listen and comment here on NPN and welcome to the forum! =)

You raise a lot of great thoughts here. I do think there’s a strange variable we did not discuss on the podcast that has been raised over in the comments on Facebook, which is - some men and women don’t let their spouses go on trips with people from the opposite sex (or don’t trust them to), which I guess is too bad, but also is something some people might have as a barrier too. I suppose you could say I’m lucky in that my wife does not care about this. In fact, I have done many backpacking trips with just one other female as my hiking partner.

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Thanks for the welcome, Matt!

Wow, I’ve been single too long to have considered that possibility, but I’m sure it happens. When I was in my twenties, I’m sure would have had difficulty with that. I would think (hope) that any relationship that lasts, though, would result in enough trust to make space for the kind of backpacking trip you’ve done with someone other than one’s spouse.

That limitation speaks to my thoughts as I listened to your interview with @Alister_Benn, which I’ll place in that thread.

Let me also say that as I’ve read further on NPN, I found more discussions of gender issues. I’m glad it’s being talked about, as that’s a good way to find solutions.

@Matt_Payne, would you please clarify whether the NPN threads (I may be using the wrong term) for your podcasts are strictly for conversation with you or with anyone who posts? I’m wondering if I was out of place in replying to George, above. :grimacing: Thanks!

(ETA: And I’ll wait to add my comment to your thread on the interview with Alister until I get your clarification here. Thx.)

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Hi @Marcella - the threads here are for anyone on NPN. The user has to decide whether not they join the forum though, but its public comment! =)

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Thanks, @Matt_Payne!

Hi George - I do not think any women on the podcast were advocating for equity in terms of results for competitions. I can’t remember exactly what I said on this topic but I have heard a male judge of a prominent competition say something to the effect that women would win more contests if their work was good enough. At least in the US, bold and colorful photos are generally the photos that win competitions. When I look at my most talented women friends who are photographers, most of them have quieter work. While I do not want to stereotype based on gender, it seems that if a contest has only/mostly male judges who are drawn to bolder work, women who enter with quieter work never have a chance. It is all more complex than this but I do think this is a theme in why women might not be as competitive in some competitions. Women seem more represented as competition winners in Europe or awardees in Europe and this might have to do with the fact that quieter work seems more appreciated in their nature photography community than it generally is here in the US (again, I am generalizing big time here just to pull out some themes).


Marcella, I think women are getting more organized in some small bus significant ways to create our own networks of support and collaboration within nature photography. As more of us pursue nature photography full-time, more of these collaborations will spring up and bear fruit, which I find exciting.


I’m very glad to hear that, Sarah. I hope some of that fruit might eventually include places/connections for those of us who are part time, too.

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Sarah, if you know of any photo competitions specifically for quiet, calm, subdued images, I’d love to hear about them. Not that I’m ready to enter, but for inspiration.

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Yeah I noticed this also. And not to “go there” but I have also noticed that most contests for landscape / nature photography do not differentiate between composite work vs. straight photography. In composite work, you can literally perfect a scene using skies and elements from other scenes to create the perfect presentation. If done well, judges can’t notice and can’t ask. I personally find this to be a real problem in our craft. It heavily favors one style over another. I think a good contest should have multiple categories including composite / digital art and straight photography. It would be interesting to see the results. I have actually considered starting my own contest for this reason. I feel that more “straight” photography is being pushed to the side in the mainstream as a result of this reality.

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Matt, You took the words out of my mouth. I said something very similar when I responded to the question on the forum asking why some of us members don’t post images for critique. I don’t post because I’m not a Photoshop guru or even a Photoshop semi-regular user. Most times I shoot in jpeg, especially when taking bird photographs because my cameras allow me to use an internal TC feature that boost my reach up to x2. I feel images posted for critique or to enter contest have to be heavily photoshopped and if not all the critique is about what PS technique should have been used to enhance or correct the image. No one seems to be interested in the image as an image or about the exposure, composition or subject matter.

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Well, all of those things are certainly important aspects to a good photograph. I think the use of Photoshop is one of those things that you can either make minor changes to enhance what you took, or you can go crazy and swap in other skies, etc. I personally don’t think both uses should be treated equally in the eye of the viewer though, at least, not when you are saying “this is a photograph.”