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#EachForEqual: What International Women’s Day Means to Photographers

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See what #EachForEqual means to these photographers as they prepare for International Women’s Day 2020, and learn ways you can add gender diversity to your own portfolio.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2020 on Sunday, March 8th 2020 is #EachForEqual, with gender equality as a global issue at its forefront. The campaign slogan says it all: “An equal world is an enabled world.”

In the photography industry, gender equality and equal rights for all genders is not a new topic. Photography as a field is largely dominated by men. In a 2018 study on the state of photojournalism led by the World Press Photo, the resulting demographics were astonishing. 68% of women photographers participating in the study faced discrimination at work.

Creative fields can pose challenges that bar women from entering

The other obstacles that women respondents faced included stereotyping (56%), sexism within the industry (54%), a lack of opportunities for women (49%), and social and family expectations (42%). Photography industry stereotypes are not new issues. However, we’re now at a pivotal stage in modern history.

Organizations and events such as International Women’s Day 2020 remind us that we have the power to make actionable change within our areas of interest. The power of visual storytelling has grown significantly within the digital era of communication, and more photographers are using their lenses as outlets to eliminate gender barriers both behind and in front of cameras.

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Visual storytelling is a powerful tool for combating discrimination. Image by ShotPrime Studio.

Global photographers, this is a call to you. Legal restrictions have kept 2.7 billion women from accessing the same choice of jobs as men. From the images we create and share of our travels, it’s on us to share these stories of inequality and create representative images for customers to share around the world.

Representing Gender Equality in Images

As photographers, videographers, illustrators, and creative industry leaders, we have the power to use the imagery we create and share to celebrate women’s achievements and increase visibility for underrepresented persons. International Women’s Day 2020 identifies a number of missions that help achieve this goal.

We’ve taken those missions, and identified a few ways that you can implement these in the content you create and share at Shutterstock.

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Add diversity to your creative work to reflect the real world. Image by Nadia Grapes.

Mission #1: Champion women forging tech innovation

Women are creating some remarkable things in the tech world. Did you know about the first 100% solar-powered house, made by a Hungarian scientist named Maria Telkes? Or about the recently passed Katherine Johnson, whose calculations enables some of NASA’s first space explorations?

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Women are at the forefront of many cutting-edge industries. Image by lenetstan.

For images and video, representative content showcasing women in the roles of surgeons, scientists, AI development, and chemical labs are more important than ever. Seek to capture images that celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of women in action at work.

Mission #2: Applaud equality for women athletes

There are big changes happening around the globe for women athletes. Female athletes are rising up for equal pay, sponsorship, and visibility in more ways than ever before.

No longer are women solely depicted in “feminine” sports such as yoga, running, or cycling. We’re seeing women challenge the prejudice of what we can achieve on world stages as weight lifters, boxers, and rugby players.

Not only that, but LGBTQ+ representation is getting the stage it deserves. In 2020’s Superbowl, San Francisco 49ers offensive assistant coach Katie Sowers made headlines globally as the first women and openly gay coach in the Superbowl. We need to make headlines like this not newsworthy, but instead the norm in the sports industry.

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Women are also making headlines in athletic endeavours. Image by Courtney Odonoghue.

In sports images you create, represent a worldly view of what it means to be diverse and inclusive in sporting games. Images featuring strong women in active roles that challenge limitations on what they can or can’t achieve. Images that are inclusive of LGBTQ+ gender identities and celebrate inclusion in team activities.

Mission #3: Forge inclusive workplaces so women thrive

Gone is the traditional stock image of the happy Caucasian colleagues smiling at the camera in a perfectly lit office. That’s old stock.

In today’s stock marketplace, customers are looking for images that champion women and all gender identities who are leaders in equal and inclusive workplaces.

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Images of the workplace should reflect real-life, diverse workplaces. Image by Malquerida Studio.

The look of workplaces are changing. We’re not just looking for images of standard offices and working spaces. Challenge expectations and photograph women in innovative workspaces, including technology labs, visual studios, and progressive environments that celebrate inclusion and equality. 

Mission #4: Support women to earn on their own terms

This is a mission we are proud to support through the contributor networks on Shutterstock. Now more than ever, women are thriving in their own business and entrepreneurial endeavours. As freelancers, small business owners, and start-up CEOs, there has never been a more exciting time in history to forge a path of your own choosing.

Globally, we have a long way to go to open these opportunities for women in areas where equal working rights isn’t the norm. However, it’s up to us to spread a message of gender-inclusive workplaces to support underrepresented communities of women.

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Use your work to highlight underserved communities of women. Image by fizkes.

As a Shutterstock contributor, you create images, illustrations, videos, or music that customers around the globe purchase and use. Our goal is to support all gender identities and be an inclusive marketplace where contributors can chase their creative dreams and earn money doing what they love.

Mission #5: Empower women through health education

Health, sex, and wellness education are at the forefront for many digital marketplaces tailored to women and other marginalized gender identities. Companies like Goop and Refinery29 have made it their mission to share the tough stories about health, sex, and wellness.

We need to nix the stereotypes associated with talking about women’s health topics such as menopause, periods, and sexual wellness. Instead, we seek to create a space where women feel comfortable and supported to make informed decisions about their health.

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Health education plays a leading role in women’s independence and wellbeing. Image by Sonko Drimko.

By creating and sharing images that depict a wide array of health and wellness practices for the modern women, we celebrate what it means to be a woman and break social barriers on what is acceptable to talk about. To get inspired to create, check out this article on rebranding periods and designing menstrual products. 

Mission #6: Increase visibility for women creatives

Championing women creatives in the photography industry is a message we want to spread globally. We are striving to provide a marketplace that is inclusive and representative of all gender identities, and we have a long way to go.

Increasing visibility is more than just sharing images depicting women. It’s working with more women creatives behind-the-scenes as well. It’s the artists who draw our illustrations, it’s the composers who create our music, and it’s the photographers who capture womanhood.

We spoke with a few of these women photographers on Offset on what #EachForEqual for International Women’s Day 2020 means to them. This is what they had to say.

Photographers on #EachforEqual for International Women’s Day 2020

Jen Huang, Offset Photographer | Santa Barbara, California

Jen is a California-based fine art wedding photographer known for her light-filled portraits, shot on medium-format film. She has been featured internationally and published in a wide variety of publications including Harper’s Bazaar and New York Magazine. This is what Jen had to say about International Women’s Day 2020.

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“What we see as the female form in art is usually what men have chosen to see.” Image by Jen Huang.

“For me, expressing gender equality is expressing the way that women are seen and photographed in modern times." 

"For thousands of years, women have primarily been depicted by men through painting, drawing, sculpture, etc. What we see as the female form in art is usually what men have chosen to see."

“It’s only been in the most recent century that women have been depicted and seen by other women. It’s empowering and freeing and I find that most women feel much more comfortable with another female photographing them." 

"It takes away much of their anxiety, and allows them to see themselves through their own eyes and mutual experience. It also opens up the world for more intimate experiences — pregnancy, birth and non-sexualized boudoir — and in turn expresses another point of view that many have not seen or celebrated before.”

Caroline Woodham, Offset Photographer | Ketchum, Idaho

Caroline is an industry pro. Not only does the exceptional business owner own her own company where she works as an editor, stylist, and photo producer, she’s also a photographer in her own right. Her influences range from fashion magazines to television ads. This is what Caroline had to say on International Women’s Day 2020.

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Bring a unique perspective to the world. Image by Caroline Woodham.

“Both male and female persons bring a unique perspective and contribution to the world." 

"It would not be whole/enabled unless each were regarded equally. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali has pointed out, an equal world is possible but it will take immense fortitude and perseverance for many years to come without giving up. I hope this can be done without immense sacrifices to women."

“This must be done on a global scale by the youth. More than ever, youth need to think collectively why this is important to strive for a more functional society. This has to be done through education and photographs are a giant tool for doing this through social media. Empowering messages need to be told through photos and stories to the youth so they start believing in the possibilities and the truth behind equality.”

On sharing images with intention:

“Images need to be shared smartly, not belittling which may cause more harm than good."

“By smart, I mean powerful and firm, but respectful. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have a responsibility to choose the content they want to share with the world. They are the largest platforms to make a choice to be accountable to equality. No more destructive content that keeps the youth at bay. They are the ticket to a breakthrough in a dream for equality."

“I say choose responsibility over greed when it comes to content on these platforms. Be the change and help educate through visual imagery!”

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By Jordan Dyck, Creative Content Manager, Shutterstock, header image by aquatti.

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