F/8 and be chic*

“PRIX is a photography lifestyle magazine for men. If you love to snap photos, chances are you’re into cars, naked women and guns.”

Ok, that’s not a real magazine, but here’s an introduction to a magazine which does exist. Or should that be ‘does sexist’? you decide. At the very least it strikes me as deeply patronizing, but here goes the intro from editor Jeanine Moutenot:

“PIX is a photography lifestyle magazine for women. If you love to snap photos, chances are you’re pretty creative and artsy about the rest of your world too. It’s important to you that your business is modern and cool, you’ve always got an eye out for hip clothing and accessories, and looking professional and shooting well are top priorities. If this sounds like you, PIX is here to help! In each issue you’ll find tips, ideas, products and trend reports for women in photography.” Shooting well? Whatever that means.

Fluffy and patronising? Am I the best judge?

The cover to the first edition features a photo of a young woman holding a camera awkwardly, Canon logo ham-fistedly edited out, cheap kit lens on, but at least her hair, nails and dress are pretty. That’s the main thing, right?

Never mind the intro and cover shot, we know there are some incredible photographers out there and many of them happen to be women who would give highly insightful interviews. So what does pix offer? “Photo gear designed for women,” “irresistible accessories,” and “smudge-proof makeup tips for long days behind the camera.”

Indeed, in the pages of PIX you’ll get advice on where to buy a striped skirt to go with your funky striped Lomo camera. Or perhaps you need some Summer pumps so your feet can stay “covered, comfortable and cute while you’re on photo shoots.” Cute?! The general tone of the magazine seems to be aimed at women more interested in cameras as accessories than tools of a trade.

There are maybe 12 pages of articles featuring working photographers buried within the 63 pages of puff, but references to their motivations, challenges, styles or paths to success are fleeting. Before you know it, you’re back to editorial featuring pretty things to buy.

Notably, an article on studio lighting isn’t about studio lighting at all, but about how to make lampshades from paper cupcake cases.

Maybe my being a man precludes me from passing judgement on a photography magazine aimed at women. Perhaps I’m missing the point and female photographers will relish the chance to read about flowery camera straps or an eyeliner that doesn’t smudge onto the viewfinder.

My gut feeling though is that PIX is incredibly patronizing, is aimed at aspiring photographers who are more interested in pretty things than the hard-nosed facts of photography and would have worked better if it had been aimed more at women simply by virtue of not featuring ads for glamour shoot workshops and men talking about the size of their kit.

PIX is really saying that if you’re a photographer and a woman, how you dress and the colour of your camera bag is at least as important as your ability and vision. In an industry with something of a male-dominated culture, is PIX redressing the balance or reinforcing stereotypes? I’d love to hear the views of photographers with fallopian tubes.

*The original quote “F/8 and be there” is attributed to New York photojournalist Arthur “Weegee” Fellig whenever he was asked how he got such striking images of news events during his career in the 1930s and 40s. Look him up, interesting guy. I don’t know if he ever worried about whether his camera matched his handbag.

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9 comments

  • laumerritt July 16, 2012   Reply →

    Well, I have fallopian tubes –and other female organs that came with as a kit, but I’m going astray– and I take some photos from time to time though I’m not a photographer. I do, however, spent a ridiculous amount of money on photo gear and photo magazines. And make up. This topic has many aspects worth of comment, but I guess I’ll need some space and time to develop them.

  • Alex Grey July 16, 2012   Reply →

    Sounds like a horrible waste of an opportunity to me. God knows, female photographers could do with some kind of vehicle which enables access to professional role models. That said, it does describe itself as a “photography lifestyle magazine for women” rather than a magazine for female photographers. Most “lifestyle magazines” for women seem to be largely garbage as far as I can see, whether they claim to focus on photography or anything else. One of the problems with glossy magazines generally is that the editorial agenda tends to be driven by advertisers. In the case of titles aimed at women, this unfortunately pulls the focus towards fashion, hair, make-up, cosmetic surgery, home furnishings, weight loss products, consumer items, etc, etc, yawnyawnyawn. I’m sure mags aimed particularly at men are similarly irritating. Very hard to imagine there’s much of a long-term market for anything both so niche and so crap as this, and I notice the issue is “Summer 2012” – a maximum of four to vomit out annually, which must be a relief for the poor editorial assistant charged with taking a blue pencil to the stash of press releases about newly available lady photographer gear, though I predict there won’t be a second issue. Smudge-proof make-up indeed! Sigh…

    • Glass Eye July 16, 2012   Reply →

      Thanks for your comment. This mag really does seem an odd mix to me, and could so easily have been angled to celebrate female photographers. What a rich seam that would be! I think the weird double meanings are quite hilarious, like the studio lighting tips being about how to make a lamp shade from cupcake papers! Maybe next issue will be about how to survive shooting a wedding while suffering period cramps. That might actually be useful!

      • Alex Grey July 16, 2012   Reply →

        And another thing! Is it just me, or is there something weirdly pornographic about a glam-looking woman clinging on to a 400mm lens? It reminds me of those calendars that building companies give out: semi-naked woman with hard hat and big drill. I guess the art director just couldn’t help himself.

        Having flicked through, I think the main goal here is to tap into the female consumer photography market by making it seem sexy, chic or cosy, instead of techy and geeky. In that sense it may be pitched just right, though that’s a depressing thought too.

  • Robert Day July 16, 2012   Reply →

    I know a few women pro photographers. They are hard-working and professional. One of them got widely-used images of the London riots and reported on the ground from Tarir Square last year. I suspect that none of them are in the demographic for this magazine, and they probably wouldn’t want to be. They have evolved their own style, something the lifestyle magazines tell their readers to do but then try to dictate what that style should be. Give me real, honest working photographers any day, of whatever gender.

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