In a recent open letter to Kodak, British photographer Izzie Farr has highlighted a lack of diversity in the photography it features on the official Kodak Instagram page. She hopes the letter will encourage other big brands to follow suit.
Even though the world of photography has become more diverse, many still like there's still a long way to go in achieving equality. Despite it being 2021, leading camera brands such as Canon, Kodak and Fujifilm, have a higher proportion of male ambassadors than women, LGBTQ or ethnic minority photographers.
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According to a study by 1854 Media (opens in new tab), publisher of the British Journal of Photography magazine, 70-80% of photography students worldwide are women. However, despite these high figures, women only account for 13-15% of professional photographers.
In her letter to Kodak, Farr points out that, “when an influential company like Kodak only promoted work by men, it perpetuates the false idea that ‘serious photography’ is a male pursuit." Farr then argues that "this type of gender disparity, not to mention the under-representation of other groups, has a cascading effect across all types and levels of photography, from hobbyist to professional."
To back up her claims, Farr supplied data from the US Census Bureau from 2019. This shows that 73% of US photographers are white, 8% are black and 5% are Asian, compared to a population of 62%, 12% and 6% respectively.
However, Kodak isn't the only camera brand to come under scrutiny recently. Canon Philippines (opens in new tab) failed to include a single woman or LGBTQ photographer in its list of 2021 ambassadors. Following the announcement, Filipino photojournalist Jilson Tiu stepped down as an ambassador. In a post on his Facebook page, he explained, “I don’t want to be an ambassador to a brand that doesn’t align with my principles,” and called for Canon to publicly apologize.
Some even argue that this isn't just an issue with Canon Philippines. Of Canon’s 109 worldwide ambassadors, only 31% are female, not including male/female pairs.
However, changes are being made elsewhere to ensure a better representation of gender. At The Photography Show (opens in new tab) this year, a a variety of female photographers have been called upon to run talks and workshops. One of the photographers involved is Angela Nicholson, who runs the Facebook page (opens in new tab) and website, SheClicks (opens in new tab). This community enables women to share work, receive feedback and enjoy photo meets.
In an attempt to offer Kodak a potential solution, Farr supplied a selection of female photographers who shoot film. With a following of 853K followers, Kodak's Instagram (opens in new tab) reach is wide and its "sway over the analogue community is significant" suggests Farr.
In response to the campaign, a spokesperson from Kodak emailed Farr to say the company would review future content plans and “intends to celebrate the entire film photographic community."