On Being a Woman in Photography Business.

There are certain jobs that are traditionally male-dominated and photography is known to be one of those, but why is that?

Is it because it is tough? Is it tiring? Does it require physical abilities that are more typical to be possessed by men? Do men have better creative thinking when it comes to building up a composition and do they understand the settings of the camera better than women do?

I have to prove to people, every time they hire me, that as a woman, I can also do all of that.

When I come to take portraits of CEOs and Directors to their offices, they always look at me with big round eyes while I am setting up lights and backgrounds, asking if I am sure I can do it by myself, and am I sure I am ok and don’t need help, but in the end I heard some of them saying that they never looked better in their life.

How often do I come to a shoot, and waiting for the crew to arrive I hear people asking when is he, the photographer, coming, assuming that obviously it is a He, and I am just a pretty edition to this photoshoot. If the assistant to the photographer is a guy, most businessmen would come and shake their hand first, assuming right away that it is the photographer.

How often (90% of the time) when a guy hires me to do the job, he says: “But you should be in front of the camera, not behind it” thinking that he is complimenting me, but instead making me feel like I am not good enough to do the job I am hired to do.

And there are hundreds of us who have to deal with this every single time.

But I still do love the challenge, and I love the struggle, I love proving people wrong for myself and for all of us.

Definitely, there are advantages in being a female photographer as well, especially in the Middle East where certain celebrations are still traditionally gender-separated. And certain ladies do feel more comfortable to be photographed by women.

However, I do often find myself to be the only woman (even in the room) in certain industry-related events, and that’s fantastic as well. Every time it feels like a win!

I have recently asked one of my clients, just out of curiosity, so why me? He didn’t say anything about my photography, but he said because I work tirelessly, because I know what they want and because I am a nice person. And that’s fair enough, I guess.

I do what I love and I do it with open heart and at the best of my ability, and it is sad that most clients would still pick a guy over me while hiring for certain project just because of the male-dominated market…or certain other reasons.

In 2017 Nikon couldn’t find a single female-photographer to promote their latest camera and all 32 ambassadors for it were men. In other brands, the situation isn’t much different to be honest.

But there are many, many talented women photographers out there, and even in the Middle East we are blessed to have a plenty of them.

So give us a chance, industry, or let us prove you wrong once again.

Much love,

Anna

2018 in Retrospective.

2018 was a tough year. It was scary, and scarring, but as well it has turned to be a life-changing year for me. Perhaps, it was the end of the cycle and something had to be let go of forever because in this universe it didn’t make sense any more.

This was the first year I spent New Year in the country. We didn’t do anything particularly memorable, just went to a restaurant, stuffed our faces and went home to sleep at 2 am. The first day of the year I did the zip-line over Marina, which was very fun and exciting way to start 2018. I also did sky diving and the biggest bungy jumping in the world this year. A lot of adrenaline was released.

In February, I was a silent volunteer to help and document GPP18, global photography event held in Dubai, gathering professionals and enthusiasts for workshops and industry-related talks. I can call myself a fairly organized person and I really suffered from lack of organization at this year’s event. I never totally knew where I had to be, who I had to help and what time I was supposed to show up and leave. I can’t say that I learnt anything new this year, or that I made new friends… it was all sort of a blur, and on the last day I even found myself to be a part of the crew of videographers to film the biggest highlight of the week – the shootout. When did I agree to that? Well, never, but I did it anyway. GPP photo week was always my most exciting event of the year and I used to be always so thrilled to be a part of it. I hope that next year it will feel more like what it used to be – a true global community people passionate about photography.

In terms of travelling, the first trip of the year was to South Africa. I used to live in Cape Town ten years ago, and it felt amazing to be back, I am still very much in love with that country. A lot of things changed for the better, and a lot of constructions went up, but it still feels just incredible to climb up the Lions Head Mountain and look down at the ocean hugging the city.

I didn’t take much landscape photos in South Africa, although there is an enormous potential for that there… just didn’t have time, didn’t make an effort. I documented all of our trip on my film camera, though, and those are perhaps not perfect in terms of quality, but are very special in essence.

In terms of crazy things to do in South Africa, we didn’t swim with the sharks, but we did the biggest bungy jumping in the world – around 900 m down the bridge and it was terrifying. Not sure I want to do it ever again, but glad I did it.

Upon my return, there was a few “fun” projects to shoot at work… like a portfolio of creative architectural images for one of the real estate developers, but without a permit to shoot them. Must say, it really unleashes your creativity when you have to compose your shot and be on a look-out for a security guard chasing after you, engage your peripheral vision 101.

I had to shoot a bunch of rings and bracelets designed by a local jeweler having no resources at all. I am still amazed how I managed to do it, but in the end the client turned out to be quite difficult to deal with.

I taught a workshop on landscape photography in the desert, which you can read here… and found myself thoroughly enjoying it, even though the whole things was hardly well organized…

I shot food, I shot clothes, I shot make-up, I shot furniture stores pretending it was someone’s houses, I shot people partying, people looking at art, people talking about problems in Maritime sector, I shot portraits of my friends, and portraits of friends’ friends, I went out with people to try to help them find what they want to shoot and how they want to shoot it.

I wanted to go to Iceland again, and so badly that I had to choose between keeping my day job for my previous employer or being fired, and it was the major decision of the year. I felt horrible, I couldn’t sleep, I lost half of my hair and I was being told that I am just not good enough, and I shouldn’t be doing what I am doing because I am just not as good as other people. So stepping away from this situation, leaving, being fired, going to Iceland was the best decision for my sanity. It all started there, and ended up there somewhere on the edge of the sharp cliff attacked by seagulls.

Second half of the year I started as a freelancer. I still had a few clients from my studio and it seemed I was doing pretty much the same job as before, just being paid differently. Summer is a dead season in where I live and a lot of creatives struggle so much that they prefer to leave than to stay and suffer the Dubai prices and no jobs, but I was fairly busy. There almost wasn’t a week I wasn’t photographing something, so I didn’t feel like I made such a bad decision of leaving the 9 to 5 job.

In August we did a fantastic trip to some place I have never been before – Viet Nam. There’s a whole story about that you can read here.

In September I did my last studio shoot during which the person who was in charge of the brand was fired, her colleague was sobbing throughout our shoot, and since that day I never heard from them again.

The last quarter of the year I was mostly shooting people that I know for a long time, and it really made a difference. In the end, my job is not only to document events, to make products look good, to take photos for people’s linkedin profiles… my job is to make people happy. And if you are happy, I am happy too.

Last two month I found myself shooting a lot of events for one of my most loyal and hospitable client – Saudi Arabian Shipping company and it really feels amazing to be greeted with smiles and treated like a part of their family whenever I go to their offices. A lot of photographer friends say they hate shooting events, but I genuinely look forward to take photos of these guys again and again.

Sadly, I can’t say that I took many amazing breathtaking photos of landscapes or cityscapes this year, but there is still two-three good months of the clear weather, maybe some clouds, so everything is possible. I took many film camera photos, those are very precious memories…

But let me just share a few favourite photos of mine that I took this year below… and thank you for supporting me this whole year, means a lot to me ❤

Thank you so much again for being there for me, supporting me and trusting me to be your photographer if I ever was.

Much love,

Anna