An open letter to Nikon…..

Dear Nikon,
.
.
I’ve been a Nikon user for 12 years.
.
.
My first ever digital camera was a Nikon and I love your kit. I had a coolpix, a D60, D700, D800, D750, all the lenses, SB900 then to SB910, my kit has evolved over time and I have been excited about the D850 launch.
.
.
My work has featured several times in the I AM NIKON 2015 & 2016, in fact one image was the video cover image ‘I AM 2016’……so I think you like what I create using your cameras as my tools to paint with light. I’ve also been recognised for the work I do in ‘available darkness’ using my SB910s to create magical moments like this…..
What I DO NOT love is your launch of the D850 being road tested by 32 professionals not including any women…..what is even with that?? This comes after an announcement of a ‘female friendly camera’ how patronising is that….I’m doing just fine with the cameras I’ve used without it being ‘simplified for my female brain and hands’…….
If you’d like to see the all male line up, click here:
.
.
The wedding industry as a whole has improved so much in terms of gender assumptions and discrimination since I started shooting in 2010, I rarely experience things like ‘and where is the main photographer’ or ‘technical things must be hard for you’ anymore. 
.
.
Having recently done my drone pilots licence, my eyes were opened up to a whole world of discrimination proving that there is still massive inequalities in how women are treated and the perception that there are ‘boys toys’, training geared to a male only classroom, sexist examples, forums belittling women for asking questions with pictures of barbie dolls with drones…..just seriously, GET A GRIP.
.
.
I wrote this so many times, justifying my knowledge and then deleting, why should I justify what I can do because I am seen as a ‘woman in a man’s world’. I am a person who also has a gender which is constructed through a set of assumptions in society. A profession and a role within that is understood through a set of skills, knowledge and attributes. These are developed and nurtured to a level where you are recognised as a professional within your role because of your expertise in your industry. Unfortunately, sometimes gender is perceived to be one of the elements that makes up a role in a profession and this was out lawed a long time ago as discriminatory. Unfortunately, this industry in some areas seems to have a bias towards one set of gender assumptions and technology.
.
.
I have invested tens of thousands of pounds in Nikon kit over the years and just feel very uninspired that there is not more diversity in the line up of professionals road testing this pioneering new camera. I’ve been reading reviews and looking at the specification and it looks great and I would warmly take on the opportunity to road test it to improve the diversity of professionals showcasing it’s capabilities. I shoot weddings, families, personal brand, landscapes and astrophotography both here and in Iceland and Norway. It would certainly get a good road test with me……but then I forgot, I’m invisible here as I am a woman.
.
.
I want every little girl out there to look at photography and think ‘I can do that’, to see images they adore and not assume a man took them (even although the industry perpetuates this), to be able to ask questions and want to understand more about how a photograph is made and most of all I want women of all ages to aspire to have a hobby or a career with photography.
.
.
This needs to stop and it needs to stop NOW.
.
.
I’d love to hear how you are going to tackle this perpetual inequality.
.
.
Best wishes,
Rebecca Douglas.
22 comments
  • David MurraySeptember 13, 2017 - 1:22 pm

    To be fair and I am not excusing them, but this is Nikon Asia, not Europe or the UK.Nikon UK has 13 ambassadors of which 4 are women, that’s 31%.Nikon USA have 24 ambassadors of which 7 are women, that’s just under 30%.Both are a lot more than Fujifilm, who have hundreds of X Photographers worldwide, of which only 8% are women.ReplyCancel

    • Kris MaeSeptember 14, 2017 - 2:27 pm

      Still not enough representation worldwide
      . Not even close. There are no excuses. Great job Rebecca- and I miss you David Murray!! XOReplyCancel

  • Matt BadenochSeptember 13, 2017 - 1:48 pm

    Great post Rebecca! I honestly thought it was a joke when I first heard about this. Can’t believe they didn’t anticipate the backlash this would receive. ReplyCancel

  • C KSeptember 13, 2017 - 1:52 pm

    Well said, sad that it has to be said @ all.  As a man over 50 it seem remarkable to me that we are still in the dark ages of equality between the sexes.  Equality in every field and facet of life lifts everyone. ReplyCancel

  • Lesley BurdettSeptember 13, 2017 - 4:43 pm

    Just YES Rebecca xReplyCancel

  • […] Rebecca Douglas: An open letter to Nikon […]ReplyCancel

  • Ewa LenaSeptember 13, 2017 - 7:37 pm

    Rebecca, thx for this letter. I’m curious, what their answer will be…ReplyCancel

  • KristinSeptember 13, 2017 - 7:42 pm

    Yes yes yes ReplyCancel

  • Mike SweeneySeptember 13, 2017 - 7:48 pm

    This is why I encourage my daughters to shoot. Because nobody else out there will do it.  And I want them to love photography like I do because they hit the wall of insensitivity and stupid males. ReplyCancel

  • KristinSeptember 13, 2017 - 7:51 pm

    Yes yes yes! This a thousand times this! I have been using Nikon for over 35 years. Sexism is nothing new in our field. I will never forget going to my first photo expo when I lived in LA. It was eye opening for sure. I stepped up to a booth that was selling either Nikon or canon and a man working the counter came up from behind me, wrapped his arms around me while I was holding a camera, and started saying things like “this is how you focus, this is where you click the shutter” I was disgusted and freaked out at the same time. I had shot 8 CD covers for some major artists and here this asshole assumes I just picked up a camera for the first  time because I have boobs and a vagina. This was around 1999 and guess what? Not much has changed. It’s better but not really. Every time I hire male second shooters or assistants to work with me 98% of the time EVERYONE thinks I’m working for him and not the other way around. That being said, those men that work for me are amazing and tell those people what’s up. I am lucky to surround myself with male photographer peers that get it. But they are rare for sure. I love Nikon and would kill to give this camera a run. And ya know what? It’s not just Nikon. The companies still believe that our profession is one that is dominanted by men, but this is simply not true at all. When I shoot editorial, models are thrilled to work with women photographers because everyone of them has a story and it’s not pretty. We need to keep clicking the shutter and getting seen because we are not going anywhere!!! Believe that!ReplyCancel

  • Emilie IggiottiSeptember 13, 2017 - 11:03 pm

    Thank you for writing this article. I completely agree with you on everything. I shared my frustration on my Instagram account yesterday, and also on Facebook. But today, I am even more frustrated by Nikon Asia response, saying that the women they contacted were not able to attend. Wow, talk about trying a little bit harder. What should we do next? I think we need to do more. ReplyCancel

  • Deb BrownSeptember 14, 2017 - 1:06 am

    Surely there are women photographers in Aisa, no?   Discrimination is discrimination.  Does not matter the place or time.   Furthermore, one doesn’t have to be an Asian female photographer for this  piece to hit a serious nerve.  What a blow!ReplyCancel

  • JessicaSeptember 14, 2017 - 9:54 am

    Say it sister! This kind of thing makes me so so angry! My entire life I have been a feminist, I was raised by a feminist, I started feminist groups, and all that time we are fighting for change and it falls on deaf corporate ears.  Big companies need to change and let the world know they are changing in order to send the message that its no longer ok in this day and age to think of women as less.  ReplyCancel

  • Nikon UKSeptember 14, 2017 - 11:39 am

    Dear Rebecca,

     

    Thank you for taking the time
    to speak with us earlier today.

      

    Further to our conversation, we’d like to thank you again for your continuing support over
    the years and for your honest and open response to a recent campaign.

     

    Whilst we appreciate your frustration at seeing the all-male line-up of photographers chosen to road test
    the D850 in Asia, Middle East and Africa, we wanted to reassure you that this
    was an isolated occasion where female photographers were unfortunately not
    represented and this was completely due to circumstance and not design. At a
    global level, Nikon has invited four photographers to act as ambassadors for the launch of the D850, one of which is
    Italian photographer, Rosita Lipari.

     

    Whilst it can be said that the photographic industry continues to be a relatively male dominated field, at
    Nikon we champion female photographers, here in the UK, across Europe and
    globally, and we look to praise and elevate unique female talent whenever
    possible.

     

    As an example, you can see our list of current Nikon UK Ambassadors here and Nikon USA Ambassadors here.
    We take pride in celebrating female talent and have
    included many brilliant female photographers in our Ambassador line-up over the
    years. In our current UK ambassador line-up we have two female photographers and one male, as
    we do not discriminate when it comes to ability and talent.

     

    At the D850 launch event that we held in London, our most recently announced Ambassador, Amy Shore, helped us
    launch the product and was one of the first photographers to test the camera
    for us. If it’s of interest you can see some highlights from the event here.  

     

    In the UK we also work with many female journalists and they are often the first to see and test new
    product for us, as we value their opinions highly. Please see an example here.

     

    We’d love to work with you on any suggestions you have of how we can further champion female photographers
    and appreciate your ongoing support to the Nikon brand.
    Nikon UKReplyCancel

    • Sujata SetiaSeptember 15, 2017 - 7:21 am

      “thiswas an isolated occasion where female photographers were unfortunately notrepresented and this was completely due to circumstance and not design.”
      We, the NIKON FEMALE COMMUNITY would really like for you to expound on this “circumstance and not design” that you speak of. That is what we need to understand. That you say that Photography is mostly a male dominated industry is what brands such as yourself perpetuate by design. By the occasions and circumstances you create… by what you say and reflect in your selection of flag bearers of your products. I would strongly recommend that you take a closer look at the industry and seek better representation of the variety of genres within photography itself. Neither is there gender equality, nor that of skill in your line ups globally. I would love to know on what yardstick of skills have you selected this team of men to represent your brand? You have to be answerable to someone. To your client base globally. To the women you have skilfully shoved behind the burning fires of their kitchen stoves. Such a half hearted response for a very valid point raised is nothing but a bait to get us off your backs. ReplyCancel

  • Monica OlveraSeptember 14, 2017 - 1:41 pm

    Dear Rebeca, I’m Monica Olvera Mexican Ambassador of Nikon, in fact the only one Mexican women. And they invited me to try this camera… and talk about it in Spanish for America Latina and Dixie Dixon to to USA. check the link https://livestream.com/accounts/22293757/events/7661175/player?width=960&height=540&enableInfoAndActivity=true&defaultDrawer=&autoPlay=true&mute=false ReplyCancel

  • Sacha de KlerkSeptember 14, 2017 - 2:05 pm

    “an isolated occasion where female photographers were unfortunately notrepresented and this was completely due to circumstance and not design.”
    hmmmmm….. what circumstances lead to there being no female photographers in this group? There are many talented female photographers in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. I suspect an all male team invited a group of their all male peers to road test the camera and it never even occurred to them until it was too late that there were no women. I suggest some unconscious bias awareness be rolled out at Nikon. Nikon say they don’t discriminate but scraping through with a paltry 30’ish% on their list of ambassadors is simply not good enough in 2017.ReplyCancel

  • Madeline PotterSeptember 14, 2017 - 2:57 pm

    THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS. ReplyCancel

  • […] Rebecca Douglas was one of the female photographers who also reacted to this story. She got a response from Nikon UK, stating that this was an isolated […]ReplyCancel

  • Matthew LongSeptember 14, 2017 - 5:20 pm

    Brilliant post Rebecca, this shit is just so unacceptable. ReplyCancel

  • Alan DuncanSeptember 14, 2017 - 9:09 pm

    I find this open letter to be an abomination, an abomination in the extreme in fact!
    Why is it in this day and age that things like this need to be published at all?  Why should sex even matter nowadays?
    For me, the photograph that is published should be gauged on its own merits, the skills involved in the capture and process taken to arrive at the final image are what should be judged.  But most definitely not the sex of the person that took the image. One could almost say that sex is just an accident of birth, it’s something that shouldn’t even need to be taken into account. Does sex really mean that one is superior to the other?  To me, not in the slightest. 
    We should be at a point as a race where sex should never be an issue, where it is solely down to that persons level of skill and their capability in performing any job, and the simple fact that it is not this way offends me greatly, some would even say that I am naive for even believing what I am writing.  But believe it I do, wholeheartedly. 
    As a man, does that automatically make me a superior being to any woman in the world? I can answer that in one word – never.  I know many women personally who are far superior in jobs that I could ever wish to be, and even if I feel that I am very skilled in some particular area, there is always someone who has a greater level of skill or knowledge in that said area, be it male or female.  And that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. 
    Well done Rebecca for publishing this for the world to see, I fully support you in this and am also equally sad, and also ashamed on behalf of males who think that this kind of thing is still acceptable, that this is still an issue these days. I hope to see this kind of inequality stamped out for good in my lifetime because it’s past due that both male and female as a sex in anything in life were not seen as either superior or inferior to each other, but taken purely on the merits of the person her/himself. ReplyCancel

  • […] If you’re interested in supporting the Snap Photography Festival Aspiring Workshop Leader Scholarship, you can donate here. Or if you’re interested in the rise of women in the photography industry, check out these recent articles in Wired and Stylist, or read Rebecca Douglas’s open letter to Nikon. […]ReplyCancel

Hello there! Welcome to my blog where you'll find stories of joyful moments I've captured and if you'd like to know a little more about me, click below....

Menu