As I check the pages of Facebook and Flickr for nature photographers that are either serious amateurs, part-time professionals or full-time pros, I am happy to say that it is pretty much a 50/50 split between women and men. I believe more of the serious amateurs are women than men. This is the first time I could ever say that. My pole is of course totally unscientific. It seems like the ladies are getting close to a 50/50 split in that semi pro category. By semi , I mean a website, and attempting in your spare time to get your images into publications, or to sell some prints. When it comes to full-time pros the men have an edge. When it comes to the biggest names among full timers, men rule the roost. Why in heaven’s name does this always have to be?
First let’s immediately put aside the idea that men may be better photographers. That is nonsense. One only has to look at what’s out there, to know that. What about “women are just not big and strong enough”? This is silly. I have been outpaced and out lifted by women who are smaller than me. Some of the actual answers are obvious. No matter how hard we try, we men simply cannot have babies. As long as there are going to be new babies, that will slow down the number of women who can put aside the time required to rise to the top, and then stay there. When you are a full-time nature photographer, you have to at times, travel alone and work in the field alone. If you wait for company every time you shoot, you will make very few pictures. You ladies have some obvious and very legitimate fears when it comes to going it alone. I do know women who have made those trips alone, and they are extremely vigilant in the caution they exercise. They are always looking for people who seem as though they could be of help in an emergency. A cell phone with a GPS feature should be close by. Buying road insurance from AAA, is a good idea. Even then make sure you understand how to change a tire, and cable jump a battery. As a man who has traveled alone for much of my adult life, I have at times been frightened by both people and circumstances. Everything has always turned out okay, but my fears were logical, so I can imagine the worries a woman would have.
For those of you who are or have been married, does (did) your husband always seem to have a hobby or business that was more important than you? Those things weren’t actually more important than you but most men do have something in their live’s that they live and breathe for. Golf, softball leagues, pool, fishing, hunting, cars, nature photography, making money. There is always something. They make that passion just (well almost) as important as the people in their life. You also need to put nature photography on the same level with the people in your life. That may seem counter-intuitive to what should be important, but trust me, that is what successful men do. Nature photography has to be just as important (so to speak) as your man and your kids. I know what you are thinking. Obviously one of the secrets for females to becoming a super stars in nature photography is to have a very good man in your life. You need the same kind of freedom that those men super stars enjoy. It ain’t easy but it can be done.
Everything I’ve written above comes from a lifetime of observation, much of it concerning women I know personally. It seems so sad to see so many women photographers get right to the point of major success, only to get married and let it go. Nature photography needs you and I am rooting for you.
A couple of my female photographer “friends” on Facebook are beginning to reach that super star status and deserve a look.
Cheyenne Rouse is a southwest U.S. photographer who is not totally a nature photographer but is extremely talented and ambitious. She leans a bit too heavily on HDR imagery for me personally, but she is well worth watching or taking a workshop with. A true rising star. It is worth looking at both her gallery and blog.
Her gallery site… http://gallery.ancientlightphotos.com
Her Blog… http://www.cheyennerouse.com
Marie Claude Orosquette is a wildlife photographer, with much of her work coming from Africa. I think she is much better known in Europe than the U.S. but she will soon be known everywhere. Her site is in French, but it is worth your time.
I liked your words, my friend and I agree. If I might add……there are many nature photographer couples who work together. So another option is to teach hubby to enjoy your passion. In the case of husband and wife teams, and several come to mind, Husband is more of a documentary photographer and Wife is more of an artistic photographer. Both work. I think this stems drom the difference in the make up of men and women. So ladies, when you become better than your hubby…..Make sure he can handle it. 8>) The main thing is to get out and shoot.