Where Are All The Female Photographers?

“Why don’t guy cosplayers get as much attention as girl cosplayers?” This question popped up in my mind during a recent conversation with my girlfriend. What triggered the issue was the appearance of Drefan Cosplay at AniManGaki two weeks ago. His cosplay of Robert from Dream Daddy was amazing, but very few people paid attention to it and very few photos of him were taken during the event. I started to wonder why this happened.

In my mind, the most straightforward reason as to why his picture wasn’t taken is simple –  because there aren’t many female photographers out there. It’s a well known fact that there are more male photographers than female photographers in our community. During the event itself, everywhere I looked, there were only male photographers with huge set ups and amazing cameras. Female photographers, on the other hand, were few and far in between. Why is this so?

Image credit: http://onwardphoto.org/gender-diversity-in-the-fine-art-photography-industry/ A graph showcasing the ratio of male and female photographers in the fine art photography industry.

To explore why there aren’t many female photographers, we may have to go way back to when the camera was invented. Back then, it was a piece of machinery that was complex and pricey. Naturally more males had access to it compared to females because of how society worked in the past. Males generally had more freedom and money, while females were more often “trapped” at home doing chores. Fast forward to today, and we still see the remnants of the past linger as a huge chunk of photographers are male.

The reason for that is because we’re currently stuck in a positive feedback loop. There are tons of female cosplayers which cause more girls to want to cosplay, which causes more guys to want to take pictures of their beauty, hence causing more female cosplayers to show up on social media, inspiring more girls to cosplay. After all, seeing amazing cosplayers looking beautiful, elegant or sexy may inspire them to get into it as well; maybe not to attract the attention of guys but just because it looks so fun.

On the other hand, guys constantly see photographers with fancy gear, talking to pretty ladies, and they get inspired to get into it. As my friend told me when I talked to her about this, “I’m pretty sure a good portion of them get into it just to get some p*ssy.” For some guys, that’s enough to motivate them to begin cosplay photography. As for girls, there aren’t many photographers compared to cosplayers they can look up to that would draw them into the art form.

Back then, cameras were huge, heavy, clunky machinery.

On another note, when I asked some of my girl friends, they did admit to feeling intimidated to try out photography in the ACG scene. This is because there are so many more guys doing it, and not as many female photographers that can guide her. This scenario is in some ways similar to how there seem to be more female artists than male artists in the doujin scene, but because drawing is a very personal hobby, you can practice all you want in secret without bothering anyone. On the flip side, photography in the ACG circle requires you to practice it on another person. Which makes the whole hobby even more unapproachable. There are some of these unspoken expectations to meet as well and it is quite intimidating, even for a “not-so-newbie” photographer like me.

However, I think it’s about time we take a step out of this bubble we’re in, especially to all the budding female photographers out there. Why does it even matter to increase the number of female photographers in the community? Well, for starters, we won’t have too many great male cosplay pictures. This may sound weird, but hear me out.

Guys know what features make a girl look good, and they can direct the model to accentuate those features such as the length of the leg, the chest or the butt. They also know what pose makes a girl look slimmer, or even tricks to make the girl look better than they are in the picture. Girls generally know these techniques as well because they actively want to look better in picture. Most guys, on the other hand, don’t know shit about how to make ourselves look better in pictures.

Personally, I don’t even know what are the criteria girls look for when they see a male cosplay picture. Like, do they prefer tan skin, small face, big eyes, V-shaped face? You don’t ever see a guy posting a picture of himself standing in front of a white wall with a “#ootd”; at least not as often as girls do. Just to further show you how clueless we are when it comes to these things, I have absolutely no idea why girls think members of One Direction or Ed Sheeran are considered attractive, but plenty of girls can tell why guys like Megan Fox.

I think one of the core reason why a huge majority of the cosplay we see are of female characters because they are just more pictures of them being taken by the male photographers. I’m not blaming them either, we obviously prefer taking picture of things we like, and girls are what a lot of guys like. It’s totally natural how things worked out. But what would be even better is to see a slight shift or expansion in the community, so that we can begin to see more variety as well.

Image credit: http://fotozon.com/fotoview.cgi?2246
And here, you see a sea of male photographers and just one lonely female photographer.

The good news is that future may not be as far off as I feared it would be. Photography as a whole is a hobby that looks very interesting and “artsy”. It’s one of those hobbies that everyone has some degree of interest in; just like music instruments, maybe they just want to take better pictures of themselves, take awesome landscape pictures, or just take good pictures of their loved ones. In fact, I have plenty of friends who are interested in photography, both males and females but they just didn’t had the chance to try it out. In the near future, this problem may become totally eradicated.

As phone camera technology gets better and better, people may not even require a big fancy camera to try out photography in the future. To illustrate this point, there’s even a book entitled “The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You”  written by Chase Jarvis to showcase how an iPhone can be good enough to capture great images with.

Besides the rise in technology, one of the top photographers and also cosplayers in Cure World Cosplay is none other than Pugoffka, and her cosplay photography is just amazing. She is already a source of inspiration for aspiring female ACG photographers out there, and I honestly believe we can only go up from here.

As active participants in the ACG community ourselves, we can actively try to encourage more girls to pick up photography. Photographers can try to be more willing to teach others their skills, while cosplayers can try to collaborate more with female photographers. Event organisers can also try to organise more photography-related workshops, and hopefully, more girls will pick up photography. Finally… guys, pick up cosplay and move the girl to take your picture with your awesome cosplay skills!

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