Could Female Focus Out Shoot the Boys?
There’s a revolution going on. Controversial? Possibly. Undeniable talent? Most definitely. Gin? Optional.
From a seed of feedback at last year’s Digital Splash Photography Show, journalist, gear-tester-extraordinaire and Camera Jabber founder Angela Nicholson has created a ‘women only’ photography group called SheClicks.
Experience and research has always shown that women see, shoot, learn and approach camera gear in a completely different way to their male counterparts. So begins an incredible journey to encourage and promote female photographers across the UK and worldwide.
In this EXCLUSIVE interview with Angela, we chatted about the reasons behind SheClicks, the blossoming numbers of photographers joining and the incredible collection of images that is evolving within this inspiring community:
What inspired the creation of SheClicks – why the female-only focus?
A combination of things have inspired me, but one was a conversation I had with a few women on a photo walk I was leading for Wilkinson Cameras at Digital Splash last year. They said that they felt more comfortable being taught about photography by a woman. My boyfriend has also been saying for years that I should do something for women photographers, but a website didn’t seem like the right approach.
More recently, a friend from the US told me about how popular female photographer communities are over there and it got me thinking. Social media has the power to connect people who live many miles apart and a Facebook Group seemed like the perfect solution.
Why the need for a female only group?
I’ve met a lot of great female photographers who just get on with their photography, quietly being brilliant and never quite getting the recognition they deserve. This is a generalisation, but men tend to be better at promoting themselves.
The aim for SheClicks is to create a place where women feel comfortable, where they can ask questions, show their images and get feedback without feeling intimated.
We have a mixture of experience levels so everyone can learn from everyone else. We’re all learning.
Of course, not everyone wants to be a professional photographer, but most members want to improve their photography in some way or have questions they want answering.
I hope that SheClicks will help female photographers feel more confident. We will also champion and support their photography.
What has the reaction been so far?
The reaction has been brilliant. I started inviting people to the Facebook Group one Sunday afternoon and it just took off. Within half an hour, people were sharing images and the photography was amazing. Everyone involved has remarked upon the creativity of the images being shared and lots of members have mentioned that they’ve been inspired to try new techniques as a result.
Photography by Angela Nicholson
Membership is growing super fast with over 800 members in under a month – why do you think a female only group is so appealing?
I think women are naturally supportive. And again at the risk of making generalisations, different images and subjects appeal to them. Many websites and magazines are run by or produced for men, so they don’t appeal to women in the same way. And equally, the editors don’t always appreciate women’s photography as much as they should.
How will things differ from a group, which is open to both sexes?
If you look at the images being shared on SheClicks, there’s a feminine twist. The landscape images look different from those captured by men, for example. I think women are generally better at capturing emotions in photographs.
What are the aims and objectives of the group – any courses, meet ups, exhibitions etc planned? Recognising that women learn in a different way to men, do you foresee a different approach for female photography training for instance?
We’re going to start offering free webinars to the group very soon. Some of the best female photographers in the business have offered their services to the group. I’ve started a list of the subjects we’ve been asked to cover and I’m hoping we’ll be able to offer webinars to address all of them.
We also have our first meet-up planned for 22nd September in London. There will be more! Some will be chats over coffee/tea/wine/gin others will be photoshoots.
The training events will offer plenty of encouragement and support. A lot of photography is about confidence. Hearing from other women can really help with that, but there’s no substitute for clear explanations and the opportunity to practice what you’ve been taught in a supportive environment.
And yes, I’m thinking about an exhibition and looking for sponsorship.
There’s a lot of creativity in the group already – work shared so far has a beautiful arty, ethereal quality – including lots of in camera movement, textures, multiple exposures etc Do you think women are naturally more creative than men?
I do. I think many women are drawn to photography by the creativity and as a means of expression. They then learn the technical side to help them express themselves better. It’s often the other way around with men. They’re drawn by the technical side but have to learn to be more creative with their images.
It’s great to see a variety of kit being used – from brand new, right through to vintage! Obviously a certain level of kit is essential, but are women less susceptible to the constant need to upgrade or have the latest gadget?
Hmmm, well I’m a self-confessed kit-lover! I think women love kit as much as men but perhaps different kit and for different reasons. When SheClicks members have asked about kit they usually have quite a clear purpose in mind, there’s a type of photograph that they want to capture and they want to know what will help them. So it’s image-led but the kit’s importance is recognised.
Photography by SheClicks members Gillian Morgan, Sue Woollard and Nicki Gwynn-Jones
As the historical custodians of the family album/image library, do you think women are more likely to print images?
I think they probably are. Women often treasure special moments so they’re more likely to create an album or book to remember holidays and birthdays offline. They’re also usually quick to see when an image would good hanging on a wall.
What challenges do women face in photography – is it harder to be seen, gain profile and ultimately succeed as a professional photographer?
As I mentioned earlier, there are exceptions, but women are less inclined to approach magazines and promote their photography or enter competitions. Editors are also under increasing pressure, so they often fall back on the photographers that they know, and most of them are men.
However, I think women are good at using social media and creating local networks. That’s something that SheClicks is tapping into to help promote women’s photography.
To what level are female photographers also embracing moving images ie video or techniques such as drones?
I’m starting to see more videos shot by women, but I don’t think the technology has been widely embraced yet. The same goes for drones. I’d love to run an event to help more women to try flying a drone to capture aerial stills and video.
Photography by SheClicks members Sylvia Slavin and Miriam Dee
Which female photographers do you see (so far, or historically) as pioneering in the advance/future of female photographers?
There are so many! I bet the RPS Hundred Heroines nominations list is huge!
If I had to pick one, though I’d go for Annie Leibovitz. Her creative vision is widely recognised and she’s captured some truly memorable images so that even people who aren’t into photography know her name.
Some people dismiss her saying that she’s not very technical, but I think that misses the point, she’s an artist.
If you could guarantee one outcome for the group, on the quest to promote female photographers, what would that be?
I’d like to see equality in the camera manufacturer’s ambassador line-up. It would be great if girls picking up a camera for the first time could see more female photographers getting recognition for their work and feel it’s a potential career or suitable hobby for them.
Find out more:
SheClicks’ Twitter, Facebook Group and Instagram Profiles
The SheClicks Facebook Group is for female photographers and has a friendly, informative vibe. It’s a place where you can ask questions, seek advice or just chat with likeminded people.
The group is open to any women interested in photography whether you shoot on a phone, film camera, DSLR or the latest mirrorless model.