Why are there so few women photographers? At all levels. I was prompted to consider this question by a very amusing article (more of a rant, actually) by Ann Toon in the latest issue of Outdoor Photography magazine. Ann is a very successful nature photographer in her own right (in her own right...see, I'm only on the fourth sentence and already I'm being patronising, if unintentionally) and one half of a photographic partnership with her husband Steve.

She recounts how it is often assumed that Steve, being male, is the photographer and that she is merely keeping him company. Often she is asked the question, “Do you take photos too?” which is guaranteed to make her blood boil. I can see her point, but it is an inescapable fact that, with a few exceptions, photography is a male dominated activity, be it a hobby or a profession. Why is that?

I can understand why occupations such as coal mining, oil rigging or cattle rustling might be male dominated, simply because they are hard, physical jobs to which men (real men, not wimps like myself) are better suited. But photography is more artistic, creative and intuitive and, at the risk of sounding patronising again, probably better suited to women than men.

I suspect it's the technical stuff, the “boy's toys” syndrome which puts women off. Get any group of male togs together, especially amateurs, and the conversation invariably revolves around such issues as noise performance, pixel pitch, autofocus speed, chromatic abberation, next generation sensors and the anticipated/rumoured flagship upgrade. No mention of pictures! No wonder any hapless woman who might summon the courage to approach them is invariably disappointed. If that's what photography is really all about, maybe it is meant for the boys. If you're not sure what I mean, just look at some of the threads on this forum!

This is a shame, because photography at all levels is the poorer for not appealing to, and embracing the creative talent of approximately 50% of the population. Earlier I alluded to women being generally (and I know I shouldn't generalize, but in this instance I will) more creative, artistic and intuitive than men. Visit any art group and you'll find a much higher ratio of females than in a camera club! The few women we have on this forum and E-System Group consistently prove they are at least the equal of men in terms of photographic vision and ability.

My wife, Debbie, is a good example. She is a very accomplished artist working in a range of different media but, although she enjoys taking pictures, she doesn't consider herself a photographer. She can't be bothered with all the technical stuff and asks me just to set up her camera on program. When she does take photographs she is very good. Her “eye” for a good image is very well developed and comes naturally. She may not know anything about photography but she knows how to take a good picture. Unlike some men who have all the latest gear (aka male jewellery) and know everything about photography, but can't take a decent picture! We need to attract more women to photography.

Here's a few of Debbie's pictures:-