Inside this issue
Yes We Can
Encouraging female photographers to get ‘out there’
Photography is my passion. I turned pro 4 years ago and now run my own photography workshops company offering workshops at all levels here in North Wales, Iceland and the USA. I really enjoy teaching people - almost as much as making my own photos - I love those 'light bulb moments' when i can see that people have 'got it!
Encouraging female photographers to get ‘out there’ on their own at the more ‘unsociable hours’ of the day or night – and experience the immense photographic and personal satisfaction in doing so!
About a year ago I came back from a solo trip to Iceland doing some reconnaissance for the new photo tours I was planning to run.
This was a BIG THING for me; I had never done this kind of solo trip before, all my previous excursions abroad had been along with other people, and I had never been to Iceland before either. So while I was very excited, I also had quite a lot of trepidation about the trip, particularly as I intended to do some night photography as well as sunrise and sunset shots.
This isn’t an uncommon scenario for women. In the course of running my various workshops and holidays, I get a lot of women coming along and I always try to encourage them to go out at those times – repeating what most of them already know really, that it’s at those more ‘unsociable’ times that they stand the chance of getting their best shots. I also try and encourage them to go out on their own, because again to get our best shots I think we have to really be ‘in the zone’ and totally focused on the landscape; for many of us, other people - even other photographers - can become a distraction and interfere with that experience.
I’m not surprised really that I often get a sharp intake of breath and an exclamation something like “oh I couldn’t possibly go out on my own at those times, I’d be too afraid.”
However, the result from that shoot is the aurora shot taken at Kirkjufell shown (above, below, wherever!), and I have to say I’m immensely proud of it, not only because it’s a beautiful picture but also because of what it symbolises.
Similarly, the pictures (above, below, wherever!) taken on Jokulsarlon beach were taken in the blue hour before dawn, and again I was completely on my own with the waves roaring in.
As women, most of us simply aren’t brought up to think that we will do this sort of thing even in the 21st century. There are always rare individuals whose sense of adventure completely overrides the usual constraints, but for most of us – well we are ‘mere mortals’ and have to overcome those inbuilt limitations – often by giving ourselves “a stiff talking to” and doing it anyway! (Thankfully the world is continuing to change, and I do think that for young women these constraints aren’t so strong, so hopefully there will be more and more female photographers ‘doing it’ as the years go on.)
However, for us ‘mere mortals’ quite what’s going on in our heads that’s stopping us I’m not quite sure, but from my experience, those fears are often working at a very visceral level and are so tough to overcome. However, the rewards if we can achieve it are immense at both a photographic and a deeply personal level.
Let’s just step out of this maelstrom of emotion for a minute and look at the facts. I’ve never heard of a photographer being attacked while out on location, have you? As for our fellow male photographers – who are the people most likely to be out in those locations at the same time as us - well
I’ve been having a look at a few facts about violent crime in compiling this article. They clearly show that violent crime is falling faster in the UK than in any other European country and that rural areas are far safer than towns. See the map and graph below which clearly show these trends.
The most recent Crime Survey for England and Wales also gives us some interesting data about the balance of violent crime committed against men and women.
Two-thirds of homicide victims in 2011/12 were men. Homicides against men were also more likely to be committed by a friend or acquaintance whereas for women it was most likely to be committed by a partner or ex-partner.
Women were more likely than men to have experienced domestic or sexual violence - 3% of women had experienced some form of sexual assault (including attempts) in the past year, compared with 0.3% of men according to the CSEW 2011/12
So where does all this leave us?
For me, it shows that as women, there’s every reason to embrace President Obama’s slogan and say “YES WE CAN.”
We are far more likely to be attacked by our partners than we are in the middle of the countryside whatever the time of day or night. Although we are more likely to be subject to sexual crime as women that is only by 2.7% - and this is extremely unlikely to happen when out on a photo shoot in the countryside!
We are also far more likely to have an accident while out on a mountain than we are to be attacked in any way – and of course so are men! We only need to take the standard precautions that are freely available on any outdoor adventure website, to ensure our safety – and of course, always make sure that someone knows exactly where we will be going and approximately what time we will be back.
These days there are more and more women getting into photography and experiencing the joy of being able to express our creativity using this unique art form. The rewards of getting out and about in those golden hours – or during the night – are well documented and self-evident. Surely as creative individuals, we want to make the very most of our talents?
If you can’t face that, by all means, go out in a small group at unsociable hours to start with and see if you can build up from there.
Then see if step by step you can take if further, so that at some point maybe you can even take yourself off to somewhere exotic on your own and have the photographic time of your life! I did just that in Iceland, whereas only a few short years ago I just couldn’t have countenanced it.
So, I hope I’ve encouraged all you female photographers to ‘get out there’ and just do it; and to all you men, if you see us out there on our own, please come and say a friendly ‘hello’, wish us well and then leave us to get on with it!