Photographer Jill Greenberg has launched an online directory in an effort to promote women photographers for advertising jobs, film and television key art, and magazine covers. Called Alreadymade, the platform serves as a resource for clients looking to hire experienced women photographers. To be included on the site, photographers have to have shot at least three ad campaigns, and have handled productions with budgets north of $125,000. Forty-nine women photographers are now listed on Alreadymade, and Greenberg says she plans to continue adding to the list.
Greenberg decided to create Alreadymade after she was invited to give a presentation about her work at a TEDx conference at Wabash College, a male-only liberal arts school. Instead of speaking about her own work, she chose to talk about gender equity in photography, and to launch Alreadymade. “I felt that I needed to come up with a solid solution to the issues I presented in my TEDx talk,” she tells PDN. In the talk, titled “The Female Lens,” Greenberg argued that the gender disparity in advertising photography not only limits the careers of women photographers, it also negatively affects our culture because we’re exposed primarily to a male perspective. “Those who are paid to create the images that shape our culture have real power,” Greenberg said in the talk. “What happens when our views of the world are shaped by only a male lens?” One of the outcomes, she argues, is that women don’t recognize themselves in the advertising they see. They’re portrayed as men see them. “The advertising world traffics in character-types to tell their stories, to sell their products,” Greenberg says. “But they have been lazy in the way they use outdated [female] characters who don’t even exist in our culture in 2018. To truly reflect what we really look like, so that consumers can see themselves reflected in the advertising which is aimed at them, we must constantly update the character-types in the ads,” she argues. Women, Greenberg says, “have the authentic expertise to create” images of women.
“There are far more women graduating from art and photography schools than men,” Greenberg also pointed out in the talk, yet they are not shooting the majority of advertising assignments. The bias starts early. “Women don’t really get hired to assist very much,” she says, so they miss the training and networking opportunities male photographers gain through assisting. “They have to figure out some other way of moving forward and advancing, and I remember that.” Greenberg worked as a retoucher early in her career. And despite the fact that she’s photographed countless magazine covers, and film and television key art for HBO, Netflix, Showtime and major movie studios, Greenberg said in her TEDx talk that 10 years ago, “I realized that I might have hit the glass ceiling when I noticed guys getting the jobs to shoot with my signature style.” When she asked her reps why, they told her that the clients simply didn’t hire women, Greenberg told the audience.
Part of her inspiration for Alreadymade, Greenberg says, was Free the Bid, a nonprofit organization of women directors, which asks brands and agencies to pledge to include women directors in the bidding process for all commercials. Greenberg isn’t advocating that, she says: “I only want to be [bidding on a job] if there’s a decent chance I’m going to get the job,” she says. But she does want to make it as easy as possible for clients to find and hire women. “There are no more excuses for not being able to find talented female photographers — Here’s a list!” she said during the TEDx talk.
Explaining why she limits Alreadymade to advertising photographers with experience working on jobs with budgets of more than $125,000, Greenberg says, “I didn’t want anyone to say, ‘Oh sure, they’ve done a big feature for magazines but can they do some intense $800,000 campaign over four days?’ I wanted to put people on the list that I felt that were the right people, and I’m working with an advisory board [to select people] as well.”
In addition to creating the Alreadymade directory, Greenberg is also doing outreach to organizations such as the 3 Percent Movement, an organization of women creative directors, TimesUp, an organization advocating against sexual harassment in the workplace, the New York City Mayor’s Commission on Gender Equity, and Equal Means Equal, which is pushing for states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the constitution. She’s also pushing the Alreadymade list in her meetings with clients. “We’re working to connect directly with the top women change-makers in media and advertising,” Greenberg says.
Thus far, Alreadymade is the product of Greenberg’s energy and the work of she and her studio manager, Crosby Harbison. “It’s a lot and I’m just doing it as much as I can, when I can,” she says. She’s asking the women on the list to chip in. “If anybody knows how to edit a Squarespace website, please feel free to help us a little bit. Or if anybody wants to do a little bit of Instagram, I’m trying to get people to do that.” Greenberg says she’s also pursuing funding for the organization. “I simply cannot do this all on my own.” Still, she believes, “The possibilities are endless.”
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