Every single day I receive a handful of promotional emails from various photography publications. Most of the time I hardly even glance at them. But this week one in particular caught my eye. It arrived in my inbox and those of thousands of other female photographers around the world. This email came from PDN (Photo District News) announcing the launch of a brand new lifestyle magazine for women photographers. It only took a glance at the cover to send me into a feminist rage.

There are so many things wrong with this publication that I’m not even sure where to begin. Let’s start with the cover which features a faceless (thank you CB for pointing that out) girl wearing flowery attire and friendship bracelets holding a consumer grade SLR with a kit lens. For you non photographers out there, by kit lens I mean the cheap (read “piece of shit”) lens that comes in the box with the camera. For a typical family who wants to take pictures of their every day lives, this is a perfectly acceptable set of tools. But, for a professional photographer, it is rather laughable and quite quite amateur. So the fact that they have immediately portrayed the female photographer as a silly girl who doesn’t know what to do with a real camera was my first source of outrage. But to look further, this is a theme that is perpetuated throughout the entire publication. It was not just a bad cover choice.

If you take the time to look inside, you’ll quickly turn to a note from the editor which welcomes the reader with “If you love to snap photos, chances are you’re pretty creative and artsy about the rest of your world too. It’s important to you that your business is modern and cool, you’ve always got an eye out for hip clothing and accessories, and looking professional and shooting well are top priorities.” Face->Palm. Here I am already embarrassed for my entire gender. Never have I once “snapped photos” and although I’ll admit that I often long for a slimmer, more functional me-sized camera bag, I have no desire to make it look like a flowery purse, nor do I feel the need to accessorize my cameras, or my lenses for that matter. If the editor had not mentioned “business”, I could have closed this magazine and written it off as merely a piece of fluff for the amateur camera buff. But hey, this is put out by PDN, a well-respected and widely circulated publication for professional photographers. Is this really what they think of us?

If you read on (I dare you), you’ll see camera throw pillows and a pendant necklace featuring a “cute vintage camera”. Let me add that I can’t think of a single person who would wear this who would also have a clue how to actually load film in this camera. Add to that jpeg necklaces & all sorts of cutesy accessories. The very definition of twee.

Then we get to makeup tips because how can you possibly focus on taking great pictures if you’re busy worrying about smudging your makeup? How very 1950′s. I’ll take a side of valium with my lipstick, thank you very much. Now let me tell you, I do attempt to make myself look polished and professional on the morning of a wedding. This does include some makeup. But a few hours in, after crouching in corners, squeezing through tight spots, lugging bags from one location to another, with heavy cameras and lenses dangling from every limb of my body, let’s say I end up rather disheveled. My hair is a mess, I’m a little sweaty and there is makeup on the back of my LCD screen. But do you know what? At that point I couldn’t care less about my hair or my makeup. I’m in my groove. I’m focused, I’m determined. I’m listening, I’m watching, I’m anticipating, I’m ya know, shooting. I’m doing my job.

If you turn the page, we get to flowery flats. I cannot fathom shooting for more than an hour in any of these. Just plain silly. No support, no traction. The only redeeming quality of this feature is that they didn’t suggest stilettos instead. Then we come to the crafting section. Because after all, every successful business owner has time to craft paper lanterns out of cupcake paper. The rest of the magazine is peppered with ads for fluffy, girly-type products. All in all, the clear message of this particular publication seems to be that female photographers are the new crafty housewife. That we care more about cutesy style than we do about substance. About great imagery.

I’m not sure when it happened, but apparently sometime in the past decade, I became old school. But I’m proud of that. I wear black, I own black cameras, black camera bags, black camera straps, black pelican cases, I sprinkle in the occasional white lens. I learned on film. I played in the darkroom. I whined and bitched and moaned about digital until it finally got good. I am a photographer, I also happen to be female.

I have watched my business succeed and grow over the years as my work has improved. I built my brand to show off the images I want potential clients to see, not to bury them in “personality” and “lifestyle”. I don’t believe that my clients care about my lifestyle. I want them to know that I care about theirs. That I am insightful, that I think about who they are as individuals, as a couple, as a family. That I examine their faces, their features. That I think about how I’m going to photograph them in a way that they will love. That I will use my knowledge and my skill to do this. It is much more in-depth and thoughtful than “snapping” a photo.

I realize that there is a market for this sort of thing these days. And for the record I have no problem with the MWACs (Moms with a Camera) out there who love taking pictures of their families. Some have successfully branched out to launch businesses and some who have invested in learning the craft and business side have been wildly successful. But somewhere along the way, the line between amateur and professional has been blurred, erased. Anyone with a camera who has gotten paid to “snap a pic” is now a professional photographer? Hmm, I’m not so sure.

I would gladly welcome and support a photography magazine for women if it were done in a respectful and smart way, but PDN, this was not it. Please try again.

119 Responses to “PIX for Women – A Rant”

  1. Stephen says:

    Love every word of this. I already new about this ‘thing’ from another photographer and she is just as pissed off as you are. And I couldn’t agree more. What a piece of detrimental garbage.

  2. Candice says:

    Amen. My female chromosomes were offended yesterday when another female photography friend sent me the link. Glad to hear true professional female photographers find it revolting too.

  3. Hennessey G says:

    Well said Justine…. Well said!

  4. I loved this article. I personally love fashion myself, but form and function are SO important to me!

  5. Betsy Cole says:

    Bravo. I don’t know a single legitimate female professional who isn’t insulted by this. Thanks for putting how many of us feel into such a well-done post.

  6. Ditto what you said as well as the previous commenters. And I’m a guy…with a wife and a daughter and a client list that is 95% female. With you 100% on this one.

  7. Judy Cormier says:

    You read my mind … saw it, skimmed it, deleted it, which is what I should have done in the first place.

  8. Danielle says:

    Seriously. While I agree with you 100%, there’s that little voice in my head saying ‘thousands of women will be so into this’. Why? Because they’re not photographers and think they are. This is why it’s so frustrating for someone like myself who started 14 years ago (and is a film shooter). I know there’s a solid, professional group of women who are nowhere near the target market for this fluff. But I also know there’s tens of thousands of newbies who just haven’t learned what it takes yet. And I can’t blame them for that at all, we all had to start somewhere. But the digital age (bringing millions of female ‘photogs’ + the consumer age has left us with this kind of embarrassment.

  9. Well said Justine! I agree completely.

  10. Lynn says:

    I wrote about this very same thing yesterday. Like you, I’m also offended and pissed. You mentioned some points I didn’t even get into because I was afraid my head would explode. I am going to update my post to include a link to your blog…if you are interested, here is my take:

  11. Jim Collins says:

    You rock. My favorite line was face>palm. It’s not really mine to give, but I’m proud of you Justine. It’s one of my favorite things about you. You know who you are. You know how you got there. You did the work. You made your way. You deserve to be treated like the professional you are and you deserve your success. This may be the first time I’ve ever read that in what you’ve said. Whether you like it or not, you are becoming a leader in this industry. I’m humbled to know you and to call you my friend.

    (and I am going to plagiarize face>palm someday and think about you when I do it!)


  12. I couldn’t agree more! The last thing I worry about is make-up and how “cute” I look when I’m working!

  13. Lolasaurus Rex says:

    Danielle hits this right on the head.

    Although you might feel targeted because you share the same genitals as women who find this magazine interesting, you have to understand that the way of the dragon is as such: pro photography is on the outs. There’s a HUGE rise in new, young, (and yeah) female photographers that do this part time. $1,000 for a weekend of work is nothing to sneeze at for them, but it’s killing the pro photographer’s business. And these new ‘togs could really care less about it. To heck with the pro photographers charging a living wage, I guess.

    As a female photographer that fits into this demographic by age and gender ONLY, (I have an art degree, own a legit full time biz, and pay taxes. Hell, I even demo against sex slavery which means hey, I’m a feminist too because feminism is not just for women), I totally see what’s going on out there. I’ve also stopped being mad about it, and have adjusted to profit in an otherwise unprofitable situation.

    Of this is the first anyone has run in to this situation head on then I say… welcome aboard the reality train. I’m not even remotely surprised at this magazine. I’d expect seeing a lot more of this in the future.

    <3 Spray and Pray.

    • JayD says:

      If the $1,000/job, Craigslist photographer is killing your business then you need to up your game. Walmart isn’t killing Macy’s.

      • CK says:

        While Walmart isn’t killing Macy’s, the actions of Walmart certainly affects Macy’s on many level be it consumer behavior or stock prices. Here’s an interesting article about the interaction between the corporate decisions of Walmart and its effects on Macy’s consumers

        Unfortunately, most of us don’t live in such a cut and dried environment where our business decisions can be made in absence of market conditions so while upping the game might seem like the answer, the path to financial success through wedding photography might be a little more complicated than that.

        • JayD says:

          Yeah, but blaming people who aren’t even targeting the same demo you are ($1000/wedding clients) isn’t the way to get more business. I think Zack Arias has pretty concisely made that point a number of times. Couples that can’t afford us deserve to have wedding photos, too, so the photogs that are providing that cheap (price, quality) service to them are necessary, and probably not hurting Lola’s business.

  14. Lisa says:

    I agree with you completely Justine, but really, it’s the female version of the gearhead amateur guy stuff. I too came of age with film, and came from a world of mostly men photographers. Things have changed a lot with many more women shooting both professionally and as amateurs.
    But without going into the amateurs calling themselves pros issues, there is a huge world out there of cute girly girls with cameras that want stuff. No kidding. And so what. They’re the female version of guys talking about who’s lens is bigger.

    Personally I love looking at all the cutesy stuff, tho most of it is not for me. I’ve tried every black camera bag and use them for work, but have to say I love the fun colored ones to run around with. Often I find my camera too big to fit comfortably, and get pissed off they’re all designed for smaller cameras, but I make them work and enjoy. But if I’m headed out with much more than a camera and an extra lense, I revert back to the big black boxes. It is what it is, annoying, but not worth getting mad over. A pro is a pro is a pro, whatever sex they are, and that’s the good news!

  15. Well said, Justine- I couldn’t agree more!
    I also agree with Danielle, the market for this crap is getting bigger every minute.

  16. Justine, thank you for expressing so perfectly my reaction to this piece of crap targeted to female devotees of The System. I do feel like we’ve just been drop-kicked back into the 50′s, although women ‘snappers’ then at least knew how to load film.

    Maybe next Inc Magazine could publish a little mag for women business owners called TRIX, with articles that explain how staying home to make dinner for your man, dressed impeccably in Dior, and devoting yourself to his every whim is the key to being successful in your business. BLECH.

  17. Danea says:

    I totally agree with everything you said except for two things…sort of… I have and actually wear(on occasion) a very cute blinged out camera charm necklace. LOL. I also think that having a camera bag that looks like a regular purse can be a good thing 1. IF it’s functional, and I have two boys under 5, so having space for other things is great when I want to bring it all with me. 2. It’s not an obvious camera bag full of thousands of $$$ of camera equipment and not crap kit lenses. For the record I have an ugly red and grey messenger style Lowepro but that’s only because a new bag is low priority on my business budget.

    That being said I AM a mom with a camera but I did start out on film, I know how to shoot manual and prefer RAW AND I am running an actual legitimate business that I take seriously and get paid well to do so. ;)

  18. Thanks for this post, Justine. I just flipped through all 60+ pages of PIX, and while it is disappointing, I can’t say the content is too surprising. We are already in an industry where, if a speaker uses the phrase “P&L” at a conference, 9 times out of 10, someone will raise their hand and ask what that is. And sessions where the phrase “P&L” would even come up in the first place have dwindled to almost non-existence.

    As a b2b consultant to the wedding industry, the photo industry is one I pay close attention to for the simple reason that almost all of the business trends — good or bad — that become popular among wedding professionals are introduced to the larger group via the photo industry. The trend of female business owners dumbing themselves down for profit isn’t one that PIX started (the majority of female owned blogs follow this model as well, and they didn’t start the trend either), but it is, unfortunately, one they will probably do very well at.

    It’s a cynical move: play to a group of women who will trade in their intellect for a modicum of popularity, who will confuse femininity with not speaking up, who will confuse not speaking up with “protecting their brand”, who will measure their business success by how many hits their blog gets rather than their P&L. It’s a cynical move that will most likely pay off and it’s disappointing to see that’s the road they seem to have chosen. It’s also disappointing because now we will see even more of this across the larger wedding industry as a whole.

    • Danea says:

      I have to admit, I have no idea what the “P&L” abbreviation stands for but then again… I often have to ask what most abbreviations stand for. hahaha. On that note, I still consider myself a professional photographer who knows her business and quite confidently so. ;)

      • Ben says:

        Wow. You just said, “I have no idea what the “P&L” abbreviation stands for”, followed by “I still consider myself a professional photographer who knows her business”.

        Those two phrases tell us that you absolutely do NOT know your business.


        • Danea says:

          Ummmmm… Wow, Ben…really?! LMFAO! So because I haven’t been to a seminar where the person speaks in abbreviations means I am not a professional? Again….LMFAO! Now if the person were to say profit and losses, I could show them exactly that in my records. I spent almost 2 years before “going pro” studying everything I could about the photography business… I didn’t just jump in selling a $200 disc with 100 images and a prayer. *shakes head at your arrogance*

          • Michelle says:

            Wow! I have a BA in business management, where I’d had to take multiple accounting classes and still never heard a profit and loss statement referred to as a P & L. Some of these people responding really need to get over themselves. This whole conversation is just ridiculous. **shakes head too**

          • Krys says:

            Danea…P&L is “profit and loss”: not a seminar or photography term…a business term

          • Danea says:

            Yes, I realize this Krys- please reread my comment and you will see that I even mentioned so. *scratches head* My point was… it’s ridiculous to suggest that I absolutely do NOT know my business because I did not make the connection between profit and losses and P&L. I have def heard of profit and loss(and know mine to the dollar) but never had I heard it referred to simply as P&L… not during a seminar(as noted above) or anywhere else.

            Michelle- Thank you for having common sense. It’s refreshing and apparently not so “common”. LOL.

  19. Kristen Peelle says:


  20. diana says:

    thanks for taking the time to rant about this, the latest indignity. Proud of you, my darling.

  21. Andi says:

    Well stated, Justine. I was laughing particularly about the smudge-proof makeup because it’s the most ridiculous thing to consider. I don’t even have enough time to go to the bathroom, let alone worry about how I look while I shoot.

  22. Amy says:

    The post with the newborn tips…that baby’s cheek, the blanket, and hat are so blown out. Yikes!

  23. Lauren Weeks says:

    So, at what point do I get to stop feeling guilty for buying into all this “crap” and upsetting professional photographers?

    I took classes at the community college, attend workshops, mentor sessions, and practice, to learn the most I can. Yet because I don’t have a degree in photography, I’m not a true photographer.

    I didn’t learn on film, would probably hurt myself in a dark room, and bought my first DSLR in 2009. Guess I’m still not qualified to call myself a photographer.

    I have a cute camera bag from jojototes because I felt like an old man lugging around the diarrhea green camera bag…guess that makes me less than, yet again…

    And I have a one year old son…GASP! and yep – My photography got a whole lot better once I was able to quit teaching for a year to be at home with him.

    At what point am I qualified and worthy to consider myself a professional photographer? I’ve met some amazing people in this field who love to share their knowledge and have made me what I am, and I love the blogs out there helping photographers (including this blog), but I feel like I get snubbed just as much!

    All I know is when someone somewhere does consider me a professional photographer, I’m going to be professional, not complain, and step up my game to the next wave of newbies coming in.

    And I liked that cute vintage camera pendant, darn it!

    • Is that what you got from Justine’s rant, Lauren? That she’s upset because you, a mom with a camera, like cutesy camera accessories and is complaining about the ‘next wave of newbies’ instead of ‘stepping up [her] game’?

      You really should read through that again.

    • Danea says:

      Don’t be ashamed for saying you take pictures but to answer your question on when you should feel good about calling yourself a professional photographer… when you know how to take a decent image without major retouching in PS, have all your business ducks in a row, know how to price for profit by taking all your business expenses into account and have an actual legit business license and pay your taxes. I have no formal training in photography just started out as a hobbyist many years ago, self taught all the way with the help of a couple great workshops and photography forums, but I am a professional all the way in how I run my business, treat clients and respect the industry.

      • Danielle says:

        I agree with Justine in all that was blogged. Lauren, I also agree 100% with Danea in her comment to you. You don’t have to be ashamed of taking pictures. But, it is important to distinguish between hobbyist and business owner. As a business owner, I am so much less concerned about the cute bag, cute shoes, smudge proof makeup, etc.. and more on my business goals, profit & loss, expenses, admin, etc… that is what is so frustrating when we see a magazine like above. If you are running a legit “business” as a “professional” those things are very minor considerations in the daily business life.

    • Diana says:

      Lauren, I think the fact that you had to ask if you are a pro photographer or not demonstrates that you are not one…yet.

      • Candy says:

        Diana, I sometimes feel the same way that Lauren does. “At what point am I qualified and worthy to consider myself a professional photographer?”

        At times, I’m not sure that even I want to be one of “the professionals”! I have been snubbed & put down by several “professionals” that haven’t even seen my photos. Just because I got serious about photography when I had my 1st child (22 yrs ago) &/or have not been in business for many years.

        I’ve taken college classes, attend workshops, mentor sessions, and practice like crazy. I worked in a studio before attempting to open my own business. As I stated before, I’m not even sure i want to be a “professional” if it means having to be disrespectful to other photographers.

        ***I do agree with Justine on this magazine.

  24. The unfortunate aspect of this is that there are a ton of female fauxtographers out there who absolutely fit this stereotype and will totally eat this stupid shit up. It makes me kind of sick to my stomach and offends my sensibilities to be painted with the same brush as these embarrassing trolls, but I can see where the creators got the idea.

  25. Very well said, Justine. Thank you for sharing your thoughts- I could not agree more.

  26. Alecia Hoyt says:

    Well said, and thank you for putting your thoughts out there!

  27. Jennifer Powardy says:

    I just thought this is targeted at the amateur, photo club, young equivalent of ‘amateur photography’ etc. People playing with it as a hobby, not at all targeted at professionals. Honestly, can’t think why there’s so much fuss – it’s an angle and a hook that probably has a potential readership. Not convinced there needs to be a photo mag specifically for women … how about one specifically for men, black, asian, gay, cross-dressers … adinfinitum.

  28. Can i just chime in as a man and agree wholeheartedly…

    I know my judgement doesn’t hold much weight here, but WTF? If i were a female working professional, i’d vomit a bit in my mouth also.


  29. Shana says:

    My head hit the desk when I read the titles of the cover “stories”. What’s so frustrating is that every week, there are 2 new “professional photographers” on my FB friends list. If I didn’t need to use it to market, I’d never open it again. And most of them would eat this garbage up. This is why I spend my time on…I want marketing tips and what the best products for clients and upselling are.

    (I will confess I have a few camera necklaces–mostly gifts–but give me the real camera and I can load it, use it, take it apart and rebuild it :) )

    Thanks for speaking up for the rest of us!

  30. Cheryl says:

    Yeah! What Justine said!

  31. AMEN!!!!!!! It’s disgusting that the idea of being a female photographer is on par with being a teenage girl. Like you, I could really give a shit if I look like a hot mess at the end of the day. Shooting in the south where most weddings are over 90 degrees, makeup staying put is a myth and even if it did it is certainly not priority. Bless you for speaking up on behalf of real female photographers who wear black, functional shoes, and ponytails while they do real work and run real businesses.

  32. Jaime says:


  33. Well said Justine…I hate that so many new folks are being fed this BS as gospel. When in reality it is like when your parents are just humoring you and saying ” that’s great darling…now go play with your barbie dolls and let the grown ups finish their job”…condescending attitudes towards women abound in our society and until we speak up and say” Bullshit! cut the crap!” it will keep going on. Thanks for speaking UP!

  34. I don’t consider myself a female working professional. I consider myself a working professional, and a badass photographer. My gender has no bearing on the quality of my work. The only thing that has a bearing on the quality of my work is the effort I put into it. Justine, thank you for a wonderful post. As you know, I also grew up souping my film and making my own prints in a darkroom. I want to have my work be respected for its quality, not because its creator wore polka-dots or a cute necklace. Black works fine for me. That, and knowing my craft inside and out. At the end of the day, that’s what matters most. The day spangles and pastel sweaters become more important than quality work will be a sad day indeed.

  35. Barbara Ann Cameron says:

    Thank you. For years I referred to my self as the Johnny Cash of weddings. I dress in black. I know I have gotten dismissed from wedding planners because I do not look the part. I am not a size 4 with a matching camera purse. This bothers me so much because my work kicks ass. I care about my work and clients. Not about my trendy hipster look:)

  36. keri vaca says:

    Thank you Justine! This is offensive and I have to say the cover photo caught my I. I was confused…WTF? Kit lens, friendship bracelets and a flowery low cut shirt??? Definitely not what I wear to work. It sucks that they have an opportunity to put our meaningful, important, relevant information to the professional woman photographers that take our craft and business seriously and this is what they come up with.

    Thanks Justine!

  37. meg says:

    i could NEVER get beyond the STUPID cover….”smudge proof make-up tips for behind the camera”…..OH FUCK OFF….HOW RIDICULOUS…..

  38. Holly says:

    Thank you so much for this! What a ridiculous magazine and an insult to all of us professional female photographers. I’m glad too that I’m not the only one who is a complete disheveled messed a few hours into a wedding!

  39. Fundy says:

    Thank you Justine. The next 8 glasses of wine are on me. Seriously.

  40. Jayme says:

    Great blog post! Totally agree!

  41. Christy Marks says:

    Thank you for saying what I wanted to say…I’m not quite as wonderful with words. :)

  42. Love your post, especially the part about becoming old school in the last decade; I miss the darkroom terribly, film has now become somewhat of a dinoseur for many or for me it is consumed on “film Fridays” for me and my old school friends. Fashion, who has time to shop for a new wardrobe every few weeks when you are knee deep in edits all week long. Your post was great, to the point and strong! Thanks for taking the time to write it and possibly open a few eyes!

  43. Love this article and your assessment of this magazine except for one part — I do happen to own a necklace with a little vintage camera on it, but I also happen to know how to use my own vintage Zeiss, and I’m quite handy at loading and unloading the film.

  44. Nikki Morrow says:

    THANK YOU for expressing what I feel!

  45. Nate says:

    Nice post! I shoot concerts in Vegas, and when I go to pick up my photo pass before the show, it just says “Photographer.” They don’t print any pink ones just for the ladies. Maybe PDN should take the same approach.

  46. John says:

    Ok, I get what your trying to say and agree with the principal of your rant. You are a woman but don’t have to be a girly girl with your woman’s specific bags etc. But then at the end you say you would buy a woman’s specific magazine?!?! Why??? If everything else you are good with why do you need to have gender specific anything? What is so different from men and women photographers that either gender needs their own “________”. Their are different social issues for men and women granted but depending on what type of work you do I can’t see any reason to separate, gender, race or anything else to have that one specific area have it’s own magazine. And NO for those of you ladies wondering, I’m 34 yr old guy, who is socially minded and I’m not some pre-hestoric male writing from a dark ages mentality.

    • Sara France says:

      I completely with Justine and with you John. I don’t think any of us feel that we need a gender specific magazine. However, companies are trying to capitalize on the growing population of female photographers. However, it seems like Pixs completely missed the mark in trying to appeal to pro-sumers and professionals in the same publication thinking they would just pick up all the “chicks.”

      The segments that need to be taught differently and have different needs are pro-sumers and professionals not men and women.

  47. Mandy says:

    Okay, I have to agree that the magazine was definitely “profiling” a particular woman photographer demographic.

    But here’s the thing. The true definition of feminism is to allow PEOPLE to be themselves without feeling limited, constrained or judged. It’s an open forum to be yourself and learn from others who are also willing to be themselves (totally not trying to sound like a teacher…but this was my topic of study in grad school). Therefore, while I think Justine and the various commenters bring up some great points about what exactly this magazine is saying based on it’s images and content, I don’t think it’s fair by any means to “bash” the “amateur” female photographer that decides to indulge in the accessories, not-so-expensive DSLR, etc.

    True feminism would not be knocking ANY woman down-amateur, pro, camera necklace wearer or black bag carrier. I just ask that when we begin talking about “feminism,” that we really take a step back and think about what we’re trying to say before we start swinging so far to the other side that we forget we’re ALL women and we all deserve respect. Flowery dress wearing or not. Who are we to judge ANY woman for her personal choice-photography related or other? Isn’t that the exact opposite of feminism?

    • The editors of the magazine are the ones guilty of stereotyping. And no one is saying you can’t be a respectable photographer, gender aside, if you love coordinating your camera straps to your eyeshadow, but I sure as hell wonder how you can be prioritizing giving your clients the priority they deserve if you’re in the bathroom primping while the reception is going on. Or if you can’t run into the mud or lay down on the floor if the shot requires it because you are afraid of ruining your flowery shoes or showing your coordinated undies. And you definitely won’t have my respect as a fellow professional if that’s your mindset.

      And. by the way, what is this nonsense that feminism requires that you respect all women? Sorry, but not every person (woman or man) is automatically deserving of my respect.

  48. Yes.

    Seriously, someone needs to tell these people that anthropologie and toms is not the ‘photographer uniform’ LOL

  49. Tamra says:

    Thank you for posting all the thoughts that have been going through my head. I’m 51, so I already went through the 60s and am quite upset at PDN shoving us back into the 50s — that was when having a cute little “career” was just something we women did while waiting to get our MRS degree. The tone of the writing in that magazine was totally 1950′s Women’s Day magazine telling us how to succeed at Avon or Tupperware. It’s insulting to every woman who knows her COGs and who treats her photography as a profession. Women are more then 50% of the wage earners in the USA, but this magazine acts like women who have a camera are just in it for the cute shoes.

  50. We photographers sure are a dramatic bunch, aren’t we? Where’s the harm in walking back some of the hyperbole and admitting that, hey, this product might not be marketed it designed with you in mind. No harm, no foul, go forth & vote with your wallet. Much simpler, and easier on the blood pressure, in my opinion.

  51. Justine, I already loved you but now I think I love you just that little bit more. This piece of writing is brilliant and expresses what I think many of us ‘photographers who happen to be female’ are thinking.

  52. Chris Boar says:

    Hmmmm, makes you wonder how they are going to spin this out for more than one issue….there’s only so much fluff and crap you can sell to the MWAC’s….

  53. Amanda says:

    I just wanted to comment on this (because it bothered me a little):
    “For you non photographers out there, by kit lens I mean the cheap (read “piece of shit”) lens that comes in the box with the camera. For a typical family who wants to take pictures of their every day lives, this is a perfectly acceptable set of tools. But, for a professional photographer, it is rather laughable and quite quite amateur.”

    I just dove into the business almost a year ago, and I shoot with a consumer DSLR (in manual, I never take it off manual!). I got rid of the kit lense a long time ago, even before I went into the business and I use a 35mm currently.
    Believe me I would LOVE to have a better camera body, but I can’t afford one yet (money goes right towards ordering print/wall art orders, business expenses, etc.). It’s one of the first things on my “to do” list when I have enough to purchase a new body, and hopefully some better glass (I would love the 85mm or the 60mm macro).

    It’s not always about the gear, it’s knowing your gear and how you make what you have work and your statement just bothered me a bit.

  54. Diana says:

    I’ve been a photog since 1985, and turned pro in 1987.
    The field was pretty much a huge Boys Club back then. All the photo magazine writers were male, all the profiles were about male photogs, except for the occasional fine art female photog: joyce Tennyson, Nan Goldin, etc.
    All the people who worked in camera stores were guys, all the Art Directors in Ad Agencies were guys and hired guys to shoot ads and annual reports. Women were so marginalized and condescended to, you can’t imagine!
    The PP of A was OLD MEN with rigid ridiculous rules about what constituted a good photograph.
    Things were bad.
    But women began to enter the field in the nineties, didn’t necessarily join the PPA and other moribund old boys’ clubs, started doing fabulous Boudoir woman-to-woman and making big money doing Wild Weddings and breaking every rule in the book. (ie shooting weddings photojournalistically)
    Women photographers invented baby and newborn photography; we took children out of the studio and into the fields and beaches, and totally reinvented portraiture.
    Gradually suppliers like labs and album companies began to catch up. It took a long time. Now they know that they need to have lots of products that are fashionable and cute to appeal to young female photogs.
    Probably this magazine is a gross misstep by a ny-based PDN group of editors that wanted to cash in on female “lightweight” photogs. Each coast has its own brand of condescending, out of touch jerks churning out “product” for what they call ‘the masses’. This is an example. Look at tv ads created by the same exact types about cleaning products!! So out of touch with real contemporary women’s lives!
    Let it die a nice quiet death from shunning and neglect.

  55. well said! I’m with you on every single point!

    It’s just sad that there is a huge market for this kind of fluff, and many many people probably will love it. But I’m perfectly content not to be one of those people, and to take my photography training/advice/education in the same form as any other photographer. I just don’t even get why women photogs need their own magazine in the first place…

  56. David says:

    So let me get this straight, if you are a female photographer that happens to like the girly girl stuff like flowers and makeup tips then you’re not a professional?

    So to be considered a professional you have to carry around a crappy looking camera bag because and only use black camera straps?

    For a feminist you sure did a good job at insulting a whole bunch of women just because they like expressing themselves. You basically have stated that unless you are just like a man you are not a prefessional.

    Well done!

    • Lynda says:

      Thank you, David! Although I can totally understand the frustration of the new wave of amateur photographers (both male AND female) calling themselves professionals, I truly don’t see anything wrong with a female photographer rocking at her job AND looking fashionable while doing it. We don’t have to look “boyish” in order to be good photographers…and looking “boyish” on the job does not necessarily equate to a good photographer either. That in itself is a stereotype. There is nothing wrong with the idea of self-expression via attire while working.

  57. Cay says:

    I got the email, and I thought to myself, “Why are they sending me this? Why do I need a photography magazine for women? And what does what I wear have to do with my photography?”.

    I don’t look at my chosen profession and skills on a gender basis. I look at my photography as both an art and a science, NOT a lifestyle. The feminist in me got her guard up…

    Danielle, you said something brilliant. We as women have transformed photography. We’ve created beautifully redefined genres, but then see it bastardized by the low barrier of entry.

    I wish that PDN didn’t portray themselves as being so out of touch with our industry and the feelings we have as professionals. As an experienced marketer for many years, I see it as PDN seeing a rising market niche, took advantage of the enormous opportunity in capturing it, and then blanketed the market at-large with a really poor targeting strategy.

    If they were truly strategic about it, they would have left a small % of female photographers, like you Justine, and many more of you, OFF the list — realizing there is a set of experienced, elite professionals who would be offended by this. And with just cause.

    There are a handful of organizations including Moms’ groups … which they could have targeted successfully. They would have been spot-on in reaching the right audience…without jeopardizing the PDN Brand (which in my mind, seems to have occured). A few vendors I have marketing consulting relationships with (I do brand consulting as well) have told me there is HUGE money in this segment, the hobbyists who are addicted to equipment. They tried to capture it, and it failed them. Miserably.

  58. tga says:

    ” I want potential clients to see, not to bury them in “personality” and “lifestyle”. I don’t believe that my clients care about my lifestyle. I want them to know that I care about theirs.”

  59. Ron says:

    I might be inclined to read this page if you had a more readable, higher contrast, font color. What’s wrong with good old black on white?

  60. Very well thought out, Justine; As someone who spoke up for the Women’s right to hold responsible positions in the male dominated business world of Finance, at one time, I feel that this publication pats us on the head and moves women in business back to the 1960′s and 1970′s (or earlier); If these newer photographers only photograph for Art and to look pretty and fashionable with out regard to being profitable and being business people at below market rates, their new paradigm will put the industry in a position to be phased out completely or at least put them out of business since they will in fact be subsidizing their very own clients and paying for the privilege. The net result is the very advertisers for the magazine might increase sales initially, but their target market will not be back – they will be in business for only a very short time. Their business models will not sustain repeat purchases.

  61. Very well written and thought provoking. I’m glad you put your foot down!

  62. David Willis says:

    I’ve seen that cover image before. It’s from iStock titled “Paparazzi Girl Taking Photograph in Garden”. Here’s the link:

    • Marcia Gold says:

      They used a STOCK PHOTO for the cover of a photo magazine? How original. Justine, thank you so much for a right-on perspective and saying it so articulately. You sure know your stuff.

  63. Ray Prevost says:

    Who knew there was such a fine brain in that pretty little head of yours? :) Kidding! I knew all along. I hope the editors read your words and revamp their magazine to address the LEGITIMATE concerns of women photographers.

    Or does it even make sense to have a completely separate publication for women?

    I’m not sure. What do you think?


  64. Amanda Keeys says:

    I honestly thought this magazine was a joke or one of those “free mag” one-off type deals attached to a teenage girls magazine when I first saw that cover being passed around on FB. Sad.

  65. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You. Even my “Y” chromosome was offended, but you beautifully stated “why.”

  66. Go Justine! Infuriating how media translates “women-focused” to mean “dumbed-down.”

  67. Thank you Justine for this wonderfully written article. I carry black camera bags and it never even occurred to me to “accessorize” my gear. I never really thought about why that was until you wrote this. Thank you!

  68. Mike says:

    Well put! I would have just the same cringing reaction for a male version with articles like “bicep curls using your 70-200″, or “beer holder accessories for when you’re shooting sports”. Just awful.

  69. Christy says:

    I’m a technical kind of person and don’t like all the foo-food stuff. It reminds me of when I played softball in Jr. High and I thought all the girls who spent time putting on their make-up and making their hair pretty to play a game of softball were wasting their time. It’s not how good you look. It’s how you play the game that matters. Sorry, I’m just not a fashionistatographer (if there is such a word).

  70. Rebecca says:

    I think one point that has been missed from everyone’s comments (and a huge portion to many of our reactions) is that this was published by PDN, a well respected publication in the professional industry. It’s fine if a business/publication/magazine wants to target the newbie, up and coming, mom, hobbyist, female who likes to take pictures and, for the record, there is nothing wrong with the women who love photographing their children with the kit lens (before I called myself a professional I was a hobbyist, then a student with a kit lens, 2nd shooting to learn how to capture every moment even when the bride is 40 minutes late. I spent my Saturdays during college inhaling too many fumes in a dark room, but most of what I’ve done is on digital, so I still cringe a little when people get upset at the new and digital. I respect the industry, but without the luxuries and ease of access with digital, I probably wouldn’t have been able to start my business).

    BUT if PDN is going to publish something, the overwhelming majority of the readership such a publication is being sent to are those of us paying our rent, insurance, taxes, and groceries with the “snap” of a shutter. What has made this so offensive was PDN’s absolute miss on who their market is when it comes to female readers.

  71. Well, I’m glad I’m not the only one that felt that way. I thought that maybe I was over reacting when I felt my blood boil after reading the description of the mag….I couldn’t bring myself to even look at the publication after reading about the freakin’ makeup tips!!! Thank you for sharing our feelings!!

  72. Erik Patton says:

    I thought it was awful when I first read it too. But it just reaffirms my belief that gender is WAY more important than we want to believe it is. Gender even made the national stage a couple of weeks ago with the Huffington Post article,

    Lots of female photographers are way over the top with the girly-girl stuff on their blogs. Since this is the way they’re presenting themselves to the world, it’s no surprise they’re being marketed to in the same way.

    • I agree on the girly-girl blogs being over the top. It’s obvious they are trying to lure women in, but it has the opposite effect a lot of the time. Statistically, it actually turns women off to be marketed to with overly feminine details.

  73. Daniela Weaver says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with every thought, except one… “PDN, this was not it. Please try again.” Don’t even bother, I read what you think female photographers are all about, and I don’t want to read anymore. It was a long process to put out that garbage, and you would think they had plenty of chances to rethink such stupidity… no second chances.

  74. Ben says:

    So I hate to break this to you guys, but PIX is simply catering to what the wedding photography industry has ALREADY become. This is the new face of wedding photography. Sorry.

    Susan and Ray and Justine and all us “pro” photographers… it’s kinda pointless to ignore the obvious. We don’t have to agree with it but you can’t argue with the numbers. We are the minority, and by a huge margin at this point. I have no problem with the publishers of PDN deciding it’s a wise business decision to cater to this demographic. Heck, we can all go to a pub and make fun of them all night long.

    But there’s no point in getting all offended and calling it garbage. That’s kinda like taking Kia and Hyundai to task for ruining the auto industry with their cheap cars. Or berating Subaru (a.k.a. lesbaru) for catering to the LGBT community, like a lesbian needs a special kind of vehicle.

    This isn’t morality here, and it CLEARLY isn’t about art. It’s business.

  75. I may have had a change of heart regarding all of this after actually looking at the magazine. Initially, I imagined it was a dumbing down photography magazine for women. But now I see it is a LIFESTYLE magazine for women photographers. I think they are trying to combine a few of our favorite things….photography, fashion, beauty, life management, relationships, etc.

  76. Annie says:

    Thanks for bringing this to everyone’s attention that didn’t see it Justine. It’s just someone’s lame attempt to make a buck and they don’t really care about the harm it is doing to our industry.

  77. Michelle says:

    I have to say…I saw the mag yesterday and was not offended. I quite enjoyed it and look forward to the next one. I’ve been in the business for years, and am glad that there’s finally a bit of creativity and color. Why does everything have to look so blah?!? Anyway, there are soooo many other things to get upset over. I don’t understand this being one of them….

  78. Brandon Goins says:

    Only problem with this magazine, they evidently don’t know their audience. Photographers, and I am one, are a snooty bunch, always looking for something amateur to roll their eyes at, disgusted by any element of fun introduced into their prestigious profession or new technology that removes technical barriers and opens way to talent. Snap a photo? Pfft… that’s something a little girl with a kit lens would do!

  79. H G Bennett says:

    Being a pro photographer in the UK I was blessed not to receive this! However from that front cover if it had arrived in my inbox 3 months ago, I would have thought it was someones witty gag for April Fools Day! Do you have that in the US, where people play jokes on each other? Lets hope they don’t try and distribute it across the pond :(

  80. Corey Ann says:

    Well said!!!!! I am just waiting for this cutesy ruffled camera strap shit to go the way of spot coloring. I hope it’s soon. Shame on PDN.

  81. Neil Cowley says:

    Hahahaaaaa, yea we call them photobunnies walking the floor at WPPI…just as funny as the Uncle Rogers that used to dominate the shows. A good sailor always notes the sea changes.

  82. Diana says:

    I agree 100% with you Justine. I have been a pro photog since 1993 and I’m sad that the professionalism in my profession has almost disappeared. As Lynn from Push the Shutter blog noted, Pix feels like a seventeen magazine. Yep, it’s a Seventeen magazine with some Martha Stewart thrown in for good measure. Some of you may have seen some of the tweets about Pix lately, including one the most memorable ones (from a guy with a good sense of humor): “there will soon be a magazine coming out just for men…Dix magazine”!

  83. Bev says:

    As a photography teacher this magazine is not showing the role model of young women artists I would use.

  84. Annie Laurie says:

    I’m with you Justine, it’s insulting to pros and quite frankly, encourages the “dumbing down of the industry”. I think there is a demographic for a more female influnenced publication, but how about raising the bar? Smart, modern and inspiring. Martha Stewart Living is for women, but the recipes, crafts, etc.. are challenging, thus educational. This publication sounds like the equivalent to a “100 ways to spice up kraft macaroni and cheese” magazine.

  85. Betsy Hansen says:


    I agree with Bev 100% that this will not set a good precedent for a female photographer who owns a business and that you want to live up to. This is not close to a realistic POV of not only women photographers, but photographers in general. It takes a lot of work and determination to be a professional photographer and know how to run a successful business. Where are the business, accounting, or marketing tips?

    They are definitely gearing themselves towards the “pro-sumer” (professional consumer) considering all of the cutesy gear ads. Nice to know that stuff it out there, but spread it out over a couple issues.

    My good friend is a travel photographer who is featured in the magazine. She is a legit professional, and they definitely need to include more information about working women in the industry. That’s the stuff that I want to see!

  86. melanie says:

    Could’nt said it better. Thanx, Justine & Hello from G

  87. [...] mark long before there were camera bags designed for them, vintage camera T-shirts sold to them or magazines marketed to them. These women weren’t looking for accessories to make them appear feminine on shoots; they [...]

  88. Kasey Loftin says:

    100% true. I thought every one of these thoughts when I saw this announcement. I especially like your paragraph about being old school! That is me all the way. Perfectly written. Kudos.

  89. Stephanie says:

    I saw this on Facebook a couple weeks ago, clicked through the online mag, and discarded it as soon as I saw those ridiculous decorative decals they were advertising for lenses. Who puts that crap on their lenses?? The main takeaway I got from it was that while it seems to be marketed to women who “snap photos” not professional female photographers. I’ve only just recently started my business (this is my first year) but I entered the photography world about 15 years ago when I took a class on film photography in high school. I didn’t even touch a digital camera until 2009 (when I finally thought digital photos looked pretty decent) and I still keep film on hand and shoot it when I can. That being said, I do not consider myself the target market for this kind of publication so it’s not worth my energy to even get upset about it.

  90. MattF says:

    Hi Justine.

    I agree to most of what you stated, and I think that there of course are a lot of female photographers out there that deserve to be taken seriously. But then, there are the others, that only shoot “cute stuff” like kids, pets and weddings, and only in good weather, or, even better, inside their comfy studio.

    These photographers to more harm to your serious business than one more silly publication filling up the already crowded stores.

    Best regards,


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