I found it incredibly moving watching this exhibition. At a time when visiting galleries has been difficult or impossible, the clever people at the British Journal of Photography have created something quite magical.
“400 photographs [from the 2019 and 2020 Portrait of Humanity award] ascending 130,000 feet into the stratosphere, broadcasting a message of peace and unity from humankind to space – and possibly even our extra-terrestrial counterparts.”
“There is more that unites us than sets us apart“
From take-off to landing, enjoy the whole exhibition here.
As always, my thanks to Emma Slade, Madeleine Smith, Julie Read, Betty Brigstock-Williams and the Parker family. Thanks also to the teams at Portrait of Humanity and British Journal of Photography.
Hosted by the British Journal of Photography, you are invited to a private view at 18.00GMT today, my portrait of Buddhist Monk Emma Slade will be exhibited as part of the BJP’s Portrait of Humanity award.
The Space Between is a new photography exhibition showcasing work from
f22 - women photographers at the AOP, and featuring five new pieces by me.
Exploring the physical and emotional space between objects, people and nature,
The Space Between opens today and runs until September 23rd.
This is a career highlight for me. My portrait of Jonathan Morgan, a volunteer lifesaver with the RNLI has been chosen as a winner of the Portrait of Britain award! There were over 13,000 entries to this photography competition, and the 100 winning images will be displayed in a public photography exhibition at the many JCDeceaux screens around the country.
I photographed Alex Jones for Stella magazine in June 2020, my first commissioned shoot since the beginning of lockdown. Working in the #newnormal means temperature checks, face masks, face visors, individual computer screens, social distancing and the constant application of hand gel. Alex, who has been working throughout lockdown, was completely at ease with all these changes. A calm, consummate professional, and an absolute pleasure to meet and photograph. You can read the full feature here
With thanks to top team :
Krishna Sheth – Director of Photography for Stella Magazine
A letter from the Executive Director of the Association of Photographers
The AOP is a trade association for everyone working in creative image-making. It has worked hard over the years to ensure that legislation and guidance in the areas of workplace best practice and copyright have always put the rights of the individual creator firmly at the centre.
We do not tolerate discrimination in any form and have been working to ensure that our members and team represent the world in which we work, in all its diversity.
We want to ensure that people from the BAME community feel part of us and our industry. We can, and always will, strive to do better, and we welcome any input from individuals and groups within these communities on how to address their needs and ensure representation within our sector and organisation at all levels.
To help further this process we will be launching a platform for those within our BAME membership to help us inform the organisation’s future and to ensure no one is exposed to racism, discrimination or barriers in any way. Similar to the f22Women in Photography group, it is hoped that this will be one of the many positive ways we can help address the imbalances to access and achievement within our sector.
If you would like to be involved in this group and help progress this work please contact me email@example.com
Many thanks for your continued support
Seamus McGibbon Executive Director
Membership of the AOP is open to all photographers. There are varying categories of membership, and the Access Membership scheme for emerging and established photographers is currently being offered FREE for three months during the Coronavirus crisis.
In 2019, the British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Humanity Award out of the almost 200 shortlisted artists, only 63 of them were women. In spite of their talent, women in photography are still struggling with gender disparity. The British Journal of Photography is only on their second annual award for women entitled Female in Focus. It has taken a magazine on the “cutting edge of editorial and commercial practices” over 20 years to have an award for female photographers.
Despite the recent progress to highlight more women, there is still a long road for gender parity. In a report published by The United Nations Women, a UN entity dedicated to gender equality and empowerment of women, women globally earn an average 24% less than men, work more hours, and have less chance of receiving a pension in later life. Apply that same statistic to the arts industry where the starting salary is less than ten thousand pounds, and female photographers starting out are in dire straits. In the UK, the gender income gap for artists reaches up to 77%, which is surprising for one of the most powerful countries in the world with a huge cultural output.
Not only are they being paid less and starting out with a smaller salary, women proportionally secure fewer commissions, leaving them working minimum wage jobs in order to get by. Although almost half of commercial gallery directors are women, only a third of their artists share their gender. The artist behind 209 women, Hilary Wood, while giving a talk at a Photographer’s Gallery event titled, Women Photographers Now!, said, “two of photography’s earliest trailblazers Anna Atkins and Julia Margaret Cameron were female, I just find it absolutely extraordinary that, you know, I’m standing here in front of you all now and we’re having conversations about gender parity within photography. I mean, what is that about?”
This sentiment is exactly right, in spite of Anna Atkin’s influence in the development of the photo industry, her name is not a household name like Ansel Adams, for instance. Atkins was the first creator of the photobook, something that is now used regularly to share photography projects to everyone. Emily, a graduate of Coventry University’s Photography degree, told me, “I wasn’t introduced to any historical female photographers such as Anna Atkins at university. For historical research we primarily focused on male photographers such as Ansel Adams, Walker Evans, Robert Capa, Robert Frank etc.” Atkins wasn’t worth including in discussion of historical photographers, in spite of her being considered the first female photographer. The Victoria & Albert Museum wrote in an archive, “Anna Atkins produced the first photographically illustrated book and is recognised as the first female photographer.” Yet in a photography program at what was, at the time, the best university for photography in the country, Emily had never learned about the first female photographer.
Despite Atkins’ extensive influence and her place in the history of photography, her modern counterparts are not given the same level of courtesy. In fact, in spite of the gender pay gap coming to the forefront of political and cultural issues in 2016, outside of London, commercial galleries still only have forty percent of female artists exhibiting solo shows. At Frieze London in 2018, there was only a four percent increase in female artists from 2017. Professional Photographer Wendy Carrig told me, “Only 5% of pictures bought by leading publishers are taken by women and that women accounted for only 2% of photographers hired by the major agencies. Shocking stuff, I know.”
This kind of disparity from the “deep-rooted inequality that has existed in the world of photography for so long,” said Carrig, caused her to restart an old organization within the Association of Photographers (AOP), called f22. Carrig told me that when these statistics came out, “the AOP’s Rachel Rogers began contacting some of the women photographer members to gauge opinion. Before long a few of us got together to address the issue of gender inequality within the industry, and concluded that we needed a space within the AOP for a separate women’s group, and so on 8th of March 2019, International Women’s Day, a year ago this week, f22 was reborn.”
Some female photographers think that the discrimination mostly comes down to the nature of women in comparison to men. Carole Evans told me, “It’s got to do with the nature of women compared to men, and I realise it’s quite unfeminist of me to say this, but research shows that men are more competitive, and more likely to be risk takers. I think the freelance lifestyle is risky, and one has to be competitive in order to have the motivation to work freelance. Women are more likely to go for more stable roles with stable incomes; hence their prominence in the “back end” of the industry; as agents, gallerists, curators and picture editors.” It boils down to confidence. Wendy Carrig told me that in their f22 meetings, there was a significant amount of discussion about the issues of confidence in women. She did some research on it after their meetings and told me, “unfortunately this appears to be in part governed by our genetic makeup, as research shows that a woman’s confidence doesn’t generally equal that of a man’s until perhaps their seventies. We need to empower ourselves basically.”
However, it can be hard to empower yourself when dealing with institutional and personal sexism. The Freelands Foundation’s Representation of female artists in Britain during 2018 Report says that the Culture and Creative Industries “and within that, the visual arts, are a microcosm of wider social values whereby women’s labour is less valued.” This institutional discrimination is nothing compared to what happens on a personal level. Wendy Carrig told me that “as a student one of our lecturers insisted on calling the shutter release the tit, or the nipple and when we were printing, if a print went wrong and was destined for the bin, it would be referred to as a gash print. As a younger photographer I often felt disrespected, perhaps wasn’t taken seriously.” Calling a print that needs to be thrown away a slang term for vagina implies that any vagina is, in fact, trash. This kind of sexism, while getting better, is still at the forefront of photography’s issues with gender parity.
If men are the only ones getting the commercial contracts, it stands to reason that the way women are portrayed and the way they view themselves will only come from the male viewpoint. When discussing this, Carrig said, “how is society affected when the majority of commercial images are taken by men [and] have the male gaze? These are all such big issues.”
Because this is such a big issue in the photography industry, there have been multiple women led organizations popping up in the last few years. Firecracker, for example, is an online platform that was started in 2011 to “promote women working in photography, through a variety of online features, networking opportunities and public events,” according to their website. While Women Photograph is a worldwide network that was created in 2017 and in the three years of them operating, they are now in over 100 countries and have over 950 women documentary photographers in their network. Firecracker has done a lot over the last nine years to build women up, but it still isn’t enough.
For example, each week, Women Photograph publishes a “The Week in Pictures Gender Breakdown” where they look at the amount of photos published in major news outlets to see what percentage of the photos were taken by women. By looking at these figures in numbers, it paints a very stark picture of the state of women photography. Since the beginning of 2020, the week with the highest percentage of images taken by women was the week of January 27th, with a grand total of 26%. Fast Forward, a research project out of the University for the Creative Arts Farnham dealing with women in photography, has recently put forward a manifesto to increase the amount of women involved in photography. It’s calling for a 50/50 balance across exhibitions, commissions, publishing, collecting, and for all art events and activities to be 50% related to women’s interests and stories as a start.
However, not all photographers agree with a manifesto that forces equality to happen. Which explains why The British Journal of Photography’s Female in Focus award has ended up being quite controversial. The women that I’ve spoken to have all said that they want to be judged on the merit of their work and not on their gender. As one female photographer said in the discussion at the Women Photograph event, “I think it’s handcuffing the creatives, and I think that’s the wrong way to go.” She felt that forcing it to happen would limit the creativity of the industry and force perspective in a different way. Carole Evans agreed saying, “If the women aren’t making work of the same quality as men, these people have no choice but to hire the men.”
Although, it could be argued that this implies a perspective that women don’t make the same caliber work as men and that because of this, people hiring must hire men, since their work is implicitly better. While everyone wants to be judged on the merits of their work, this cannot happen if there is an inherent bias that men are better photographers than women. Wendy Carrig agreed, telling me, “I think we all need a helping hand with self-promotion and an awards scheme specifically for women photographers does seem an attractive proposition.” And Hilary Wood followed up by saying, “it’s not until we have people in positions of power… infiltrated right across the sector that we will see that filter down.” If we don’t put women in these positions of power in the photographic industry, we won’t see it filter down to the people starting out.
The young women who are just starting out in this industry have clearly found it tough, according to the Female in Focus’ data, “on an international scale, 70% to 80% of photography students are women, but only 13% to 15% of them go on to achieve the status of a professional photographer.” This industry is full of powerful and successful men. Even “when women are getting up into the, you know, the higher tiers of the photography world and… unconsciously take on this, kind of, masculine sort of mode,” said one member of the discussion at the Women Photograph Now! event.
It doesn’t matter the gender, so long as you take on this very confident, masculine bravado, you will succeed in the photography industry. The patriarchal natures of this industry are deeply embedded and there is even a degree of chivalry that can inhibit a woman’s progression in her career. Paul Wenham-Clarke told me that he once had a female student assisting on a photography shoot, “trying to learn from a photographer, that they would go to do something and the photographer would think, Oh, I can’t get her to lift that really heavy thing, because that makes me look bad as a bloke. So then he would lift it, but then he wouldn’t book her again. Because she wasn’t much use. But it wasn’t her fault she wasn’t much use, he didn’t give it a chance.”
A chance is all these young women need to succeed in this cutthroat industry. Once they have the confidence to jump into the industry and put themselves out there, they just need the opportunity to show that they are as good, as talented, and as hardworking as their male counterparts. Hillary Wood put it best when she said, “there has to be the opportunity on the other side of that for, for us to enter into it… I think what I want and we need, [is] the leap, we need to leap into that side of the industry and them being as proactive as we are trying to get into it.”
I am missing the teams that I work with, the small families of creatives that come together for a day, or days or sometimes weeks on end. The camaraderie that exists in the studio and on location where new photography is created and friendships are forged.
Missing you team AVON!
Talent – Lisa Washington at Premier Models + Alice Cornish at Elite London
Art Director – Jo Bell
Stylist – Sophie Kenningham at Frank Agency
Stylist’s Assistants – Lily Austin & Amy
Hair Artist – Choccy at One Represents + Alex Price at Frank Agency
Makeup Artist – Dina at Frank Agency
Lighting Assistants – Julie Stewart & Maria Vainilavicute
Digital Operator – Gemma Gravett
Photographer – Wendy Carrig at A&R Creative Agency
Photographed at Big Sky Studios, London
My sister has lived in the Puglia region of Italy for most of her adult life. This week, as the Italian government eases it’s lockdown restrictions, she can leave her home for the first time in two months. It’s also her birthday, so I thought it would be nice to show some photography from her adoptive home. Happy birthday Lynn Carrig x Ciao bella x
All At Sea is how so many of us are feeling at this critical time in our history. But this editorial was created to highlight another great threat to our world, the deluge of discarded plastics that are choking and poisoning our oceans.
“I became attracted to the man made flotsam + jetsam : seaworn metal + brightly coloured plastics… there was so much of it that if the mood took me I could choose objects by theme or colour.”
“The quantity of plastic I have collected from my local beach serves as a reminder of the terrible damage we are doing to the environment. It is our collective responsibility to reuse & recycle”
I photographed Claudia Raba from a distance of two metres and through glass, but this was back in January, pre-lockdown and before government restrictions on social distancing. On reflection, this story now takes on new meaning. It also demonstrates that as photographers/creatives we will be able to draw upon our inventiveness to help us adapt to different ways of working when we finally emerge into the new normal.
Spring fashion starring Claudia Raba at Models1
Fashion Editor – Jo Atkinson assisted by Harriet Assal
Hair + makeup artist – Frances Prescott at S.Management
Producer – Fiona Andrews
Location – Fresh Locations
Digital Operator – Julie Stewart
Photographer’s Assistant + BTS photography – Maria Vainilaviciute
Last Easter I began creating a series of photography projects on the Dymchurch Sea Wall – documenting the beach it fronts, the low-lying land it protects, and how both locals and visitors use and respond to the wall. This Easter, with so much having changed in the world, it feels timely to start sharing some of this work. Here are a few selects from Bank Holiday.
Dymchurch Wall has been a vital sea defence on the Kent coast since it was first established by the Romans. It’s current construction connects pale concrete walkways with art deco influenced design; four miles of wall straddle flat marshland and vast sands, and a big sky gives an exquisite quality of light. The surrealist artist Paul Nash made many paintings of the wall most famously The Shore, and the actor and novelist Russell Thorndike based his Dr.Syn stories here at Dymchurch-under-the-Wall. More recently a Banksy rat has appeared surfing the wall’s concrete curves.
As a photographer I am also inspired.
Last Easter I began photographing my own response to the wall, documenting the beach it fronts, the low-lying land it protects, and the people that are drawn there. This Easter, with so much changed in the world, it feels timely to revisit this project.
“Serve God, honour the King, but first maintain the Wall”
Respecting current government regulations I now walk to my Mother’s house everyday; a journey along familiar roads I have driven a thousand times and more, and which I am seeing for the first time. Here are some more pictures from The Road To Wellville #stayhome #protectthenhs #savelives
I’ll be out on the pavement again this evening, making some noise in appreciation of ALL the brave keyworkers working hard in difficult circumstances to keep us safe.
I think you can tell how happy I am to be on set with this gorgeous creature. I am talking of course about Maddison the Dulux Dog photographed here (pre-Covid) with Dulux’s ambassador, the equally gorgeous Fearne Cotton. Dogs can be the most calming and gentle of creatures and I would love to include one on all my photoshoots. Meanwhile locked down at home in London I am hugely grateful for the company of our own four-legged friend who helps banish anxiety and brings us joy in these troubled times.
#clapforcarers I will be on my doorstep tonight at 8pm this evening, and every Thursday evening, showing support and solidarity for all the brave key workers who care for us and are ensuring our world can keep turning during the coronavirus pandemic.
Until normal service is resumed I would like to continue my photo-blog by sharing with you (over the next few weeks/months?) recently published commissions, as well as previously unpublished archive photography.
Meanwhile this is the beginning of a new personal project (respecting current government regulations) recording the daily walk to my mother’s house in the London suburbs. Here are a few pictures from my first week on The Road to Wellville