Photographer Tabatha Fireman has worked in the industry for 25 years, and throughout her career, she has encountered situations where she felt women in the industry were undervalued for their work. So last year, Fireman launched Female Perspective, a U.K.-based photo agency “representing the world through the eyes of women.”
“This is the time to put something back -- with the experience that I've had working inside and outside of agencies, in the field as a photographer and also in the offices assigning photo shoots and picture research,” she said.
Studies and statistics collected by wide-ranging sources -- such as Women Photograph, a non- profit dedicated to elevating the voices of women* and nonbinary visual journalists; Fashionista, an online source of fashion news; and AlreadyMade, an online directory of women photographers -- have shown that hiring and publication in photography has been greatly skewed toward men.
“My vision was to assist in redressing the gender balance in photography, in commercial photography especially,” Fireman said. “It’s incredible really that so few female photographers are represented in the commercial industry.”
For clients, Female Perspective offers a range of services - from the selection and assignment of photographers, photo strategists or cinematographers, to production, to syndication when necessary -- all completed by female professionals. In addition, five percent of fees are being donated to charities such as Women’s Aid, which works to end domestic violence against women and children.
“My feeling is that a female perspective is different to that of a male’s. It’s not better. It’s not worse. It’s just different,” Fireman explained. “Women have a very different way of thinking about things, so when a woman is photographing something, their thought process will be different, which is what gives them a different look through their images, a different feel through their images.”
In coordination with the agency, Fireman is also working on curating a global stock library of women photographers’ images. The collection, called SHOTBYWOMEN, is seeking submissions from creators from all over the world. In addition, Fireman hopes to showcase work by women photographers groups and databases through the stock platform, which may hold a pre-launch as early as this spring.
“I feel that sometimes when you submit your images to a stock photo library that you’re a bit of a commodity,” she said. “There’s nothing that promotes you as a photographer, and I think that is something that is missing, and if we can do that, and we can do that with the women photographers’ platform, it would be amazing. Champion women.”
The majority of the work in the library, Fireman explained, will have never been seen or published previously, and the platform could provide exclusive licenses to organizations that may not be able to commission large shoots at the moment. And as a photographer herself, Fireman said she will strive towards ensuring that the interests of the photographers are being served.
“So many women photographers do not submit their photography to stock image libraries for various reasons whether it's the stringent terms and conditions or not enough support .. and then obviously the awfully low royalty rates that so many are offering,” Fireman said. “Being a photographer, I want to set this up from a photographer’s perspective for photographers.”