Does Gender Matter


I was thinking the other day about birds that look similar or the same between if they are boys or girls. It certainly matters to the birds and they must easily differentiate themselves from one another. A few bird species even do the same chores, like nest sitting. This led me to thinking about photographers and whether gender matters on taking good photographs?


There are quite a few fine professional woman photographers out there, but they are in a small percentage to the whole group, and though time have always been so. I was wondering if men just have a better eye or are more adventurous in where to find subjects.


I follow quite a few well-known professional photographers and realized they are all men and they all travel quite a bit. Maybe the difference is seeing that which is different or exotic. I have to say because much of what I photograph has become routine, I have lost some of the awe and wonder. Only when I travel, does the awe and wonder return. Maybe that is what the guys have, the awe and wonder every day. They seem to possess the ability to see things like the first time they ever saw it. That would certainly put the wonder back in the experience.


This entry was posted in Birds, Nature, Nature Preserves, Photography, Photos, Shorebirds, Travel, wildlife and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Does Gender Matter

  1. lucindalines says:

    Interesting questions.

  2. Nick Hunter says:

    Yes, an interesting and challenging topic Donna. I just time-traveled back to my childhood, then through the various stages of formal education and professional employment. Along the way I thought about the hundreds/thousands of environmental science students that I’ve had in class and the many people that I’ve known as outdoor and trail companions. Lots of thoughts rising to the surface, (the “nature vs nurture” debate is a headliner), but must ruminate on it for awhile before putting myself out there, or not (BTW – nice pics).

    • donna213 says:

      I work in a male dominated field, architecture. When I began my career, there was only a handful of female students. So I do see a difference in gender. I was told my professional designs were considered intuitive, but I found them more than that. They had a sort of ambiguous feel as to the gender of who created them as well as an appeal to both genders. There was neither male or female influences or cues in a design. Many of the guy’s work was decidedly male created.

  3. alesiablogs says:

    I think I have been a big kid at heart with my capacity for finding interest in the smallest of things. So when I took up photography, I was quite surprised my reaction to getting just the right picture , but not worried about taking the simple shot. I think to myself – just take the shot- and I might be bending down in some kind of unusual stance but then I look at the photos later and get shocked at times with what I thought was not a good shot turns out to be awesome… That keeps me happy.

    • donna213 says:

      I have always found interest, even awe in the ordinary, so I think it has more to do with how often one approaches the same subject repeatably. Finding new subjects is the key to wonder. It is not so much they are new, but how one sees them to photograph them.

  4. Emily Scott says:

    It could also be family life/sociability that makes the difference, women are perhaps less likely to want to travel the world alone and even less so if they have a family waiting at home. Then there are some countries where it is risky to travel alone if you are a woman.

    • donna213 says:

      I think you are correct on both counts. Travel lust is generally a male thing. And women have the responsibility of home and family, so may not have the time to invest in improving the skills.

  5. Mike Powell says:

    Provocative question, but for me the answer is firmly “No.” My photography mentor is female and she takes photos that are awesome enough that four of them are on postage stamps that were just issued. The US Postal Service thinks the public will like the water lily stamps well enough that it printed 500 million of them. Still I take your point and recognize that in wildlife photography there is a definite male dominance.

    • donna213 says:

      I did see the post on your friend. Very nice accomplishment. Most fields of photography is male dominated. The one I see that has a well known woman photographer – is taking photos of children. I can see where they would excel at that genre.

  6. I feel there is a change. Perhaps it started a decade ago when it become common practise that for example students decided to study a year abroad. They always did – but only a few in comparison to the whole number of students existing.
    Now at a time when tens of thousands of male and FEMALE students of all nations, worldwide – which means a remarkable percentage – became accustomed to it, started to travel around, to live elsewhere etc., they began to report about their time, a foreign country, another culture and took photos to show their people at home what was going on.
    Young women were surprised about the positive reaction and the credit they received upon showing their results. They became interested in learning more about photography, technical details and how to improve (in general) in order to take extraordinary photographs. May be they needed the different surroundings to discover the camera and their skills. After return it became a challenging task – although they didn’t travel any more (as Emily Scott mentioned sometimes because of familiy reasons).
    In Germany the percentage of female trainees who want to learn the profession of a photographer has risen considerably!
    I met quite a couple of female photographers during the time I was writing about the model contest. The ladies were spezialized in fashion themes, cat walk as well as portrait photography. Later there was a professional female photographer who I met during the interview with different persons working in botanical gardens.This lady was in great demand when it came to extraordinary pictures of very special plants and blossoms.
    The new, young generation – as digital natives – is not reserved or doesn’t feel helpless when it comes to learn and work with high-tech digital reflex cameras. Girls dont keep distance any more.
    So, Donna, you might absolutely be right that women probably don’t travel that much. Therefore sometimes there will be regions or topics where only men seem to appear resp. to shoot. Nevertheless, in general being or becoming a photographer is not depending on gender. The kind of pictures, the atmosphere and where someone is bringing out the main points – this might differ from time to time. But it would differ also if you compared the work of two male photographers …^^

    Best regards from a rather windy and fresh Hamburg – and Happy Easter, Donna!


    • donna213 says:

      Thank you very much for the long, thoughtful comment. I realize becoming a photographer is open to women and I have seen a number of them as professionals. I know myself, I am drawn more to the work of men for the most part. I have been trying to understand why that is, not that men are more artistic, but maybe it is in what they choose to photograph. I have seen women photographers in fashion as well. I was a fashion illustrator at one time long ago, and in that profession saw more woman artists. As an architect, I am more drawn to the work of men too. It is the same with painting, I find male artist’s work more appealing overall.

  7. David says:

    I think there are more professional male photographers because they “… have a better eye or are more adventurous in where to find subjects.” I think gender matters only to the extent that it matters in the total work force.

    I spent an unbelievable number of hours in 2012 and especially 2013 trying to teach myself as much as I could about DSLR photography from both the technical and aesthetic points of view.

    I literally looked at thousands of photos on Flikr and professional and amateur photo blogs. After awhile it seemed to me that there was a difference in the photos of male and female photographers. Not a better/worse type of difference. I’m not sure how to describe that difference. I don’t know if it’s a point of view difference, and I’m not even sure I know what that means, but do see or feel a difference when looking at bodies of work of male and female photographers.

    That I was “seeing” this difference struck me on one of my frequent visits to the photography section of – – . If you go to the site and click on PORTFOLIOS you can view the portfolios of a large number of professional male and female photographers. Like I said, going through these portfolios made me realize I was sensing something different in the male and female portfolios but I believe the women have as good an eye as the men.

    • donna213 says:

      Thank you for your opinion and the link. I see a great difference between the genders in many forms of artistic endeavors. I cannot put my finger on it, but tend to gravitate towards masculine art. Maybe it is more bold, daring, or even provocative in nature. I know in my own photography, I tend to go for the slightly over-exposed (soft) look rather than heavily contrasted and sharply focused, but that does not mean I don’t like seeing it in the work of others or even in every case. I tend not to look at the work of others as a study though. I look at it more if it appeals to me or not. I choose not to be influenced I guess. I suppose in this post I should have used images I like of my own work rather than the birds that look like each other. I was only using the P510 in Maui, so I really did not get many keepers when I got home.

      • David says:

        Wow! I am embarrassed!!! I just re-read the first sentence of my comment and it has a glaring mistake. The very first words should read: “I don’t think …” instead of “I think …”. Originally I had written “I really don’t think …” and I decided the word “really” was not needed. Unfortunately I deleted ‘really’ and “don’t”. : $

  8. Girl Gone Expat says:

    I don’t see any reason why males should take better pictures than woman, but an interesting thought you have raised. Maybe the type of photography blog you follow is more male dominated? I totally agree with you comment that it’s easy to get ‘blind’ to the good photos unless you travel. I live in the Rockies and there are amazing picture opportunities just outside my doorstep, but after spending a lot of time in the mountains here the ‘everyday’ scenery I see just doesn’t inspire as much anymore as it did initially. I guess the challenge is keeping you eyes open for new opportunities in the same ‘old’ environment:)

    • donna213 says:

      Really that is true. There are fine women photographers that is certain. I am speaking in generalities since it is hard to argue it does seem very male dominated in those I follow. Look at Nat Geo. Rarely do I see a woman contributor. You do live in a beautiful part of the country. For me, that would be an exotic vacation. When I lived in PA, the mountains, although mere hills in comparison, I never really had the “new and exciting” feeling. Seeing a black bear, cougar or rattlesnake had no real appeal, but if I saw one of them here , now that’s a different story. Just not to those seeing them daily.

  9. Lyle Krahn says:

    That’s a tough and interesting question which inspired some great comments. I don’t have anything to add but just curious if you had any more thots on it after letting it ruminate for a while?

    • donna213 says:

      I suppose I did think about it more. It may just be because I was taught photography by men, yet I look at it a bit differently. I suppose my macro photography says it all. I have wonder and awe in the little world and I suppose having more time generally to set up a shot, the images are better. It is the same for songbirds. I just have a better way about them. I am getting the hang of eagles, but what I noticed between the men and me, they wait for the money shot and I kinda get what I get. I am guessing it will be having more experience since flying birds was something I only started photographing a few years ago. Plus, getting a longer lens will help immensely. The difference between genders on that… the guys can hold those heavy lenses or carry the heavy tripods and I can’t. Maybe I need an assistant. 😀

      • Lyle Krahn says:

        Those are all good observations. Especially the assistant part! The one statement stood out for me – “kinda get what I get.” As you probably guessed, I’m usually not as gracious to accept that and I am more easily frustrated when that happens.

        • donna213 says:

          That was kinda the point I was making, I think men are much more particular in what they shoot and show on the web. I suppose I should be, but many times seeing birds and animals I rarely see, I just want to prove it sometimes. I have yet to post one animal I saw on Maui that I never saw before. Maybe soon if I have other critters like it to show.

  10. Interesting…I wonder if it just that this was a male dominated field even for a hobby and now more women are taking it up, but not making it a profession. I still find the awe around me…like a kid exploring and seeing the light play on a plant or a table…simple but magical…and I have to try and capture that magic.

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