Dear Nikon – I am a photographer, too

I am a photographer. I happen to also be female. I have been shooting on Nikon equipment for over a decade.

Recently, Nikon announced a new D850 camera, which seems perfectly suited to the long days and constantly shifting environments I find myself in as a photographer. It has been a while since Nikon announced a new professional camera that got this much buzz and the timing is great – in the past few years, competitors like Sony and Fuji have been releasing game-changing mirrorless options.

To test and promote its new camera, Nikon selected 32 photographers from a vast geographic area (all of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Australia) and a variety of genres.

All of them were men.

32 of 32 photographers were men.

When confronted about the terrible optics and statistical improbability of having no women in a field of 32 photographers, Nikon responded that “Unfortunately, the female photographers we had invited for this meet were unable to attend, and we acknowledge that we had not put enough of a focus on this area.” Nikon has not released the names or the quantity of female photographers that they invited.

OK, so, again, that just seems a statistical near impossibility to randomly have a group of 32 people and have no women. And so I have to assume that it is not random.

So I’d like to take an evidence based approach to how Nikon, as a company, has viewed their customers who happen to be female.

First off, I’d like to do away with the concept that more photographers are men, or that men buy more cameras and thus marketing towards males only makes sense.

Nikon does have an ambassador program – showcasing the “top visual storytellers of this era” Ambassadors must be asked to join (so this isn’t a case of men being more likely to ask). Here is the breakdown by region:

Of the 27 people followed by Nikon’s USA Instagram account, fewer than 7 of them are women.

In July of this year, for an interview with Nikon’s president Kazuo Ushida in the newspaper Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, he said “For example it might be an idea to look into making a dSLR that women would find easier to use.

Any one of these things might just seem like a blip. Maybe all women in Australia shoot Fuji for some reason, maybe male photographers are more aggressive about being featured on Instagram, etc. But taken as a whole, I can’t help but look at the data and see that I, as a photographer, am not respected or valued. In over 10 years of being a professional shooter, I’ve purchased a dozen cameras, more lenses and accessories, and run a business based on my Nikon equipment. I’m a member of their Nikon Professional Services (NPS).

So, I’m sure Nikon is going to do a PR sweep – to make more statements about valuing women and trying to support them in a male dominated industry.

And I don’t want to hear it.

What I want is for Nikon to follow more women on their Instagram.

I want Nikon to support women in their ambassador program here in the US, U.K., and Europe where it is SO EASY TO DO SO and then start raising the bar in their Middle East and Africa spaces (where there are no women represented)

I don’t want any more discussion about cameras being too difficult for women to understand.

I want the term “photographer” to mean “photographer of any gender”.

I want an apology and then I want to see action.

19 notes + Add comment
  • Becca Jones

    on September 14, 2017  8:12 pm

    Yes girl!! Preach!!

  • Megan Saul

    on September 14, 2017  8:48 pm

    Yes! Preach, Becca! Preach! That last sentence gave me chills.

  • Zoe Barrie

    on September 14, 2017  8:55 pm

    I could not agree more. I found myself nodding through out this. Thank you Becca for sharing your thoughts, they are mine too.

    Zöe Barrie.
    Professional Photographer, UK

    Shooting on Nikon for the last 10 years.(including a couple of film cameras too!)

  • Anesha

    on September 14, 2017  9:28 pm

    Well written and I love the data you shared.

  • Kendra

    on September 14, 2017  10:05 pm

    AMEN!! All of this is spot on and I love the information you shared. Thank you for posting this.

  • Michele Macke

    on September 14, 2017  10:14 pm

    You put effort in this to show impartial data supporting your claim and I really appreciate that. It's hard to argue with numbers. I for one can attest, that you are a phenomenal professional photographer, who happens to be female. Way to speak out, Becca.

  • ROWAN WILLIAMS

    on September 14, 2017  11:03 pm

    Brilliant blog post Becca! Thank you so much for researching and sharing all these stats. I wrote a similar post about the UK professional market if you want to take a look. http://www.parrotandpineapple.com/women-in-the-photography-industry/

  • Sandra Coan

    on September 15, 2017  12:17 am

    Well said! Thank you!

  • Katrina

    on September 15, 2017  2:50 am

    FANTASTIC. Thank you for adding your voice and the facts to back it up to this conversation!!!

  • Jen

    on September 15, 2017  4:16 am

    YES!
    I have been shooting entirely with Nikons for close to 20 years, so you can imagine the cash I've dropped with them.
    Thank you for bringing this to our attention! Change best be happenin'!

  • April Ranew

    on September 15, 2017  12:38 pm

    Professional photographer with 5+ years using Nikon. I'm highly disappointed and agree with you 100%!

  • nina

    on September 15, 2017  1:53 pm

    This is a fantastic article, Becca. Thank you for writing it.
    #Iamaphotographertoo

  • Karyn Lee

    on September 15, 2017  2:48 pm

    Thank you for laying out the statistics for me! I also took a look around, and I am sad to say, this isn't a phenomenon limited to Nikon (I am also a Nikon shooter). Canon, while boasting ever slightly higher numbers, is still dismally below the industry average. Sony performs worse than Nikon. This is an industry problem, not a Nikon problem!

  • Julia

    on September 15, 2017  8:11 pm

    Hear! Hear! Thanks for taking the time to research and write this!

  • Vere Nekoninda

    on September 15, 2017  8:35 pm

    Great statistics, information, and analysis! The problem is corporate decision makers who disrespect women, and don't consider them to be important. For the last 20 years, Nikon has not treated its customers well, and hasn't carefully researched, nor responded to, their needs and desires. A sad change from the fifty previous years, when Nikon was a leader in customer service.

  • Tamera

    on September 16, 2017  7:46 am

    Thank you for writing this. I have now been a professional photographer for over half my life (I officially started when I was 25, and am in my 27th year of business). I'm also a longtime Nikon user. This has always been an egregiously sexist industry, and unfortunately not much has changed since my twenties. It's time to evolve, Nikon.

  • Lydia Cypher

    on September 17, 2017  5:03 am

    Just before I came across this article, I had been visiting the Enchroma website and watching colorblind people experience the missing colors of their world for the first time. It is a very emotional experience and quite a shock. I think Nikon has demonstrated that they have a blind spot where female photographers are concerned. They seem not to have realized they are really missing out! I hope that have now been awakened and will make it up to the women photographers they have been missing all this time. I hope they will do an enthusiastic catch-up and fully embrace those of us who hold up half the world. :-)

  • Isabel Subtil

    on September 17, 2017  12:11 pm

    Bravo!! thank you for sharing your feelings, I couldn't agree more.

  • Wendy Nielsen

    on October 13, 2017  2:51 pm

    YES!! I appreciate you looking into this further. The photography landscape should be EQUAL, 50/50 with men and women. It boggles my mind that in 2017 this is still an issue.