Nikon's New Campaign Speaks To Much Larger Issues Of Representation

In its latest, much-discussed campaign, camera company Nikon attempted to point out the diversity of the photo ambassadors testing its latest camera, the D850.

"To demonstrate the versatility of the revolutionary #Nikon#D850, 32 professional photographers, from the fields of wedding, sports, nature, and commercial photography will be putting the latest DSLR to the test," wrote NikonAsia in an Instagram post announcing the campaign.

What Nikon failed to recognize, was that while it tapped photographers from a wide range of specialities, it did not include a single woman. Online photography community Fstoppers was the first to call attention to the fact that all 32 professional photographers included were men. The lack of diversity is glaringly obvious in a now-viral (and deleted) photo showing the group together, all holding their shiny new cameras.

In the days following the campaign's debut, lists of accomplished female photographers have circulated, and women and men alike have taken to Twitter to express their outrage. Nikon's official statement is little more than an attempt to soften a PR disaster. Instead of apologizing, the company went on the defensive, saying the female photographers who were invited weren't able to attend.

While Nikon USA's Twitter account also issued some apologies, even these show some laziness: The majority of the replies are the same cut and pasted response.

The sad truth is that Nikon's lack of female representation is not surprising, nor is the company alone in this. Ten of the most recent photos posted on Canon USA's Instagram account were shot by men. The Sony Action Cam account fares just a bit better, with just three of the 10 most recent photos of the day coming from female photographers. Other top camera companies show similarly male dominated posts.

The problem is not a lack of women in the space; it's that we see women in front of the camera, as the subjects, more often than we see them behind it, as the people capturing the shots.

Some female photographers are taking action on their own: Earlier this year, photographer Daniella Zalcman created the website Women Photograph to "elevate the voices of female visual journalists" and combat gender biases within the space. (The site also welcomes gender nonconforming, transgender, and genderqueer photographers.)

But to see more mainstream progress, the public will need to continue to hold major camera companies accountable for addressing gender representation on their social media channels and in their campaigns. And while we're on the subject, the cameras women use don't need to be pink, sparkly, or made specifically for them. That should go without saying.