Dear Female Photographer…
This past year I’ve been doing a lot of introspection when it comes to defining my worth and deciding “When am I good enough?” As a female photographer, there have been a lot of questions in my mind, and perhaps finally, some answers.
A post like this has been years in the making in my head, but just in the last couple weeks it really started to come together.
I was having a chat with a friend this morning. He is a therapist. He was talking about the difference he sees in his male and female clients. In his female clients, he sees that they feel they’re too much – that they are not falling in line with the “submissive” gender role. In his male clients, he sees that they feel inadequate. They’re not falling in line with the “man enough” stereotype. All of this struck me because in the past year I have really been diving deep with my photography and my business.
Have We Done This to Ourselves?
I’ve been working closely with other photographers, mostly female, helping each other work out pricing, marketing, honing our craft. I’ve noticed we (female photographers) have difficulty admitting the value of our time, let alone the value of our work. As the movement for equal pay gathers steam, I can’t help but wonder if we as a gender have just accepted the narrative that our time and skill just isn’t worth as much. To come back to my friend the therapist, when we do step up to the plate and admit our worth, we get scared that we aren’t falling in line with the norms. We worry we’re coming off too strong, that we’re demanding too much. No one will love us for not being like everyone else.
The Gender Gap
It’s been difficult admitting to myself that I am enough. That I am good and that my business is worthy of charging a living wage. As I’ve gone through this introspection and research I’ve noticed that women generally want to give more out of fear that they are not giving enough and so they give too much of themselves and not in a good way.
To complicate matters, as women, when we command prices that are worthy of our work, we get frustrated, nervous and anxious. Frustrated when people respond negatively, nervous and anxious that maybe everyone is right – anxious that we are undeserving. Those women feel isolated as they try to claw their way to the top. Men on the other hand struggle only when they feel they’re not good enough. Their standards are too high and they end up in therapy when they feel that they’re not giving enough.
Isn’t that frustrating? Isn’t that really hard to hear? Have you been one of those women trying to charge real prices? Or are you not there yet, struggling to see your worth?
Regardless of which one you are you’re not alone, that’s for sure.
A Little History
It’s sad and really frustrating to hear so many women struggling to make ends meet as a photographer. I’ve heard from many photographers who have either had to quit, start offering other ways to make money like selling props, or get a primary job. Quite of a few of us are living paycheck to paycheck, praying for another client to come along.
When I first started shooting with a dSLR, I remember some local photographers who were supporting their family through photography. But ten years ago, as more photographers began to flood the market eager to earn an income to support their families, they did so with zero business knowledge. They were owning a business with zero business knowledge and no idea where to gain that knowledge while desperately eager to make money.
In turn, we photographers re-educated the market on the value of photography and now we as photographers are paying the price.
>Thanks for reading! Part 2 HERE.<
What doubt looks like… what holding yourself back looks like.