Recently, I joined Equal Lens (EL) – a photography platform that champions female photographers in the UK. Their mission is to be the face of change in a highly male-dominated commercial and advertising photography industry.
With a whopping portfolio of 100 female photographers ranging from categories like portrait and fashion, to landscape and architecture; Equal Lens tackles the gender imbalance of modern day advertising head-on.
Jaki Jo, art director and one of the founders describes how the team of Equal Lens got together and looked through over 70 portfolios of commercial photography agencies and the results they faced were disappointing but not surprising. They found that a disproportionately small amount of less than 25% of photographers represented by commercial agencies are women.
Moreover, this grim statistic reflects their day-to-day experience as art directors. Whether this is due to women’s names failing to make the lists or due to client hesitation to award large commercial contracts to first-timers – the result remains a sobering one.
Thanks to the efforts of Equal Lens, there is now an initiative that aims to confront this issue. Inspired by the sister model of Free the Bid – a database for women working in film, this new platform provides female and non-binary photographers a platform, a chance to be seen, and booked.
This platform creates more than just noise through the combination of the founders’ roles as art buyers and their professional connections in the advertising industry. Equal Lens creates real value for women and non-binary people in the industry and equips them with industry exposure and opportunities.
If the work of EL shows anything, it’s that there are many extremely talented women out there who deserve to get a shot in the game. Platforms like Equal Lens are extremely important, not only for representation in the industry but also for the belief system of young female photographers coming into this incredibly competitive industry. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to have networks of this kind where women support each other and make a change together.
Until underrepresentation is a word of the past, platforms like Equal Lens are what the photography industry needs now more than ever.