Dear Nikon, we are not angry with you, just disappointed …

image | rooftop mosaic 

A response to Nikon launching its D850 with an all male group of Ambassadors.

Meet 32 CREATIVE INDIVIDUALS from Asia, Middle East and Africa, and join them as they embark on an experience with the latest FX-format D850 …

Ok Nikon.. let’s meet them then. Oh.. they are ALL men, REALLY? If we were sitting face to face right now I’d be giving you my Mum Face because this is all too disappointing. Unless you were hiding in a cave then I don’t think you will have missed the outrage in our industry yesterday in response to Nikon announcing this line up. The excitement in our community when a new DSLR launches is equivocal to a kid unwrapping their Christmas gifts. Oh the tilting touch screen LCD, ahh the megapixels.. HUGE! Ohh that speed, so amazing, so clever, so not being marketed to women.

What year are we in people? I get that this is Nikon Asia and yes there is a smattering of female brand ambassadors in other territories but so what? Asia including Australia has some of the very best female photographers and I’d love to hear their take on a new camera. I even expect that it will be mostly men chosen as ambassadors, like I said in the post Where are All the Female Speakers we do seem to be at a time where the men are getting more of the glory. But very far from all of it.

And what saddens me most about this latest snub to women is that it is all too predictable. It feels like an Old Boys Club that is very reluctant to move with the times. It is estimated that the current spilt of working professional wedding photographers is around 50% male/female so why would any brand completely eliminate half of its potential market? I just don’t get it. And of course Nikon is not the only camera manufacturer to completely miss the mark when it comes to their female customers. Walk around any trade show and you will very quickly find a middle aged man photographing a young barely dressed female model to demonstrate a piece of kit. And don’t get me started on camera brand Shoot Days..

Is the D850 not designed for women? Will our breasts hinder the operation in some way? Will our long fluttery eyelashes get caught on the viewfinder? Well I am pretty damn sure that they won’t and that women have successfully been operating cameras since Anna Atkins picked one up in 1841. And no Nikon.. the answer is not to produce a DSLR that ‘women would find easier to use. I do not know of one single woman who has struggled to hold or operate any of your DSLRs to date. We don’t need different cameras we just need to be represented in your marketing and no longer insulted.

So yes Nikon, I’m not angry with you I’m just disappointed that you did not use this as an opportunity to be seen to change this lazy industry everyday sexism. So if you won’t do it, then what can we do ourselves?

When I was fresh out of college and trying to get work as a music industry photographer, I sent my portfolio into a teen pop magazine. It came back with the feedback, ‘We like your work but we don’t hire female photographers’. This was the early Nineties and yes back then music was a very male dominated genre. But still, what the heck? So I called them up and asked why this policy was in place? They said that they used a girl once and she was difficult, the (female) picture editor even chuckled and said ‘She must have been having an off day, maybe she had her period’.

That time I was angry and I suddenly saw that instead of getting a foot in any doors, I was faced with a brick wall. So there was a pre-judgement about girls being able to do the job? Then I would simply eliminate the girl bit. No I didn’t have a sex change, the next place I sent my portfolio to, it went in as simply Devlin. And Bam! I got my first assignment, I went off did the job, delivered the images and they booked me to do a studio shoot. When I got there, the editor was surprised that I was a girl but again they were happy with my images and how I worked. And that was my music industry career, I was always known as Devlin and I was often told that people assumed I was a bloke. I like to think that magazines and companies that did work with me then did not hold any prejudice against other girls.

So I guess what I’m saying is that when you feel like you are facing your own brick walls, think about how you can demolish them. If you are a Nikon shooter and you feel upset that they are ignoring you or putting you off by focusing on their male users, then let them know. Or better still put yourself forward as a possible ambassador. I’ll bet some of those blokes did. The emails that I get from people putting themselves forward as speakers are nearly always from men. I love this article by Farmer and passionate Nikon user Rebecca Douglas on why she is also very disappointed with Nikon over this.

This discrimination is just getting all too predictable now but that doesn’t mean that we have to continue putting up with it. We are all consumers and that brings a lot of power, so email Nikon or any brand within our industry that is also guilty of this, post on their social media. I’ll bet Nikon are in a meeting right now looking at why there is a backlash against this and wondering how they can put things right. Well I really hope they are. Maybe they did ask some women and they couldn’t take part for whatever reason, these ambassador programmes take up a fair bit of time. But Nikon, I ask you … if you had ended up with an all female line up, would someone have had a look at it and made more effort to get men on board in order not to alienate that part of your market?