January 11th, 2012

Does Being a Woman Make it Harder to Be a Photographer?

On balance, not so much.

That was the consensus of the women photojournalists who participated in the panel discussion “Groundbreaking Women in Photography,” organized by the International Center of Photography in New York on January 10. The first in a series of annual “Spotlight” events ICP will hold to raise funds for its programs, the panel was made up of photographers Mary Ellen Mark, Gillian Laub, Samantha Appleton, Stephanie Sinclair and The New York Times Magazine director of photography, Kathy Ryan. NBC anchor Ann Curry moderated the discussion.

Photo © ICP. Left to right: Mary Ellen Mark, Stephanie Sinclair, moderator Ann Curry.

Gillian Laub, who has photographed intimate portraits of young people on both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian divide, noted that being a woman has often helped her gain access to people’s homes. “I’m not an intimidating person,” she noted. When she enters strangers’ homes, “People feel comfortable with me” in a way that they may not if she were a man.  Being a woman can be an “asset, depending on the kind of work you want to do,” said Stephanie Sinclair, who has photographed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon and covered gender issues such as female circumcision and the problems faced by child brides. Luckily, Sinclair said, “I like to do intimate work.”

Samantha Appleton, who covered the war in Iraq, said that early in her career covering conflict, “I worked hard not to be classified as a woman photographer. I fought to be one of the boys.” Over time she’s let go of that battle. “There are a thousand things in your personality that affect how you tell a story. Being a woman is a part of it.” Ryan concurred. While noting that in certain countries or political situations, sending a woman photographer can be risky, Ryan said that when she has to choose the right photographer for an assignment, she first considers their vision and eye, then she considers their personality and what it might add to the assignment.  “Some women are forceful, some are quiet,” she noted.
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January 5th, 2012

Photographer Eve Arnold Dies, Age 99

© Eve Arnold/Magnum Photos. Photo: Eve Arnold with Marilyn Monroe during filming of The Misfits.

Magnum photographer Eve Arnold, recognized for her stories about the ordinary lives of the poor and downtrodden all over the world as well as for her unvarnished portraiture of Marilyn Monroe and other celebrities, has died in London. She was 99.

Arnold took up photography in the late 1940s, and first studied under Harper’s Bazaar art director Alexei Brodovitch at the New School for Social Research. From the start, she defied boundaries, documenting a fashion show in Harlem–then a segregated ghetto–for a school assignment an assignment. That led to a long to a long-term documentary project about the Black Power movement. She attracted the notice of Henri Cartier-Bresson, and in 1957, she became the first female photographer to join Magnum Photos in the US (Inge Morath had previously joined Magnum’s Paris office).

To read the full obituary, including reflections on her work by Arnold herself and comments by Magnum member Susan Meiselas, see our news story on PDNOnline. (more…)