Alyssa Meadows Alyssa Meadows

All articles by Alyssa Meadows

 

How Gentrifying Photographers Can Be Responsible Story Tellers

I’ll never forget the 1st time I encountered it after moving to New York City. I was on the train, working for a wedding photographer in Coney Island. An irate man, clearly a lifelong minority resident, made his frustration with my presence quite known. “Go back to Manhattan where you belong, white girl.” I was both deeply saddened and deeply grateful for this exchange. It was horribly uncomfortable but, it’s about time that feeling gets flipped on white folks regularly, we are all overdue on that front. It was also an important wake-up call as the rural hick chick from farm country, Pennsylvania. It was my first exposure to how deeply divided and segregated the city still can be, to how much more complex the issue is than most of us ever realize, especially as photographers. I knew as an emerging photographer, I was no more capable of affording Manhattan rent prices than this man was. But also, my moving to Brooklyn also impacted him by making a neighborhood where he probably spent his whole life, less affordable for him. So how do we bridge this divide?...
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Stories From Set: This Shouldn’t Happen to Any Photo Assistant

If they’re not careful, female photo assistants can find themselves in dangerous situations working on location. Central to this story is working with someone who suffers from a TBI (traumatic brain injury) that affects emotional responses and impulse control. The experience with this photographer was both highly inappropriate and totally explained by his injury. So, this one needs both sensitivity and honesty. Without his TBI, these behaviors would be egregiously unacceptable. While my particular situation was safe, explainable, and understandable, this is not an isolated incident. This speaks to the concerns women have when working on location, and the risks involved when working with someone new. ...
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These Media Companies Condone Unsplash Blindsiding Photographers

We’ve already spent a lot of our energy over here at Phoblographer talking about how and why Unsplash is profoundly detrimental to our industry. While they are not the only company to engage in rights grabs, or run the only contest guilty of blatant copyright obtainment, they are undeniably one of the worst, most unapologetic perpetrators. If for any reason you’re not presently aware of the danger they pose to photographers and working professionals everywhere, here are the main takeaways you should know from our coverage....
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Stories from Set: How a Sexist Comment Derailed a Perfect Photo Shoot

It’s no secret that sexism on set is a recurring problem; it’s why we’ve been able to create this series of Stories on Set. We encounter it in all manner of ways, and none are easy or pleasant to contend with. It’s a perpetual dance around the issue, walking on eggshells while concurrently trying to stand up for your rights as a human being and individual. While all versions of these situations are entirely unacceptable and damaging to all parties involved, I would argue that none is harder to handle diplomatically than when that sexist experience transpires between your clients, the people who actually are employing you and providing the whole opportunity to work with them. As previously accounted in Stories from Set: When Clients Sexualize Each Other During Your Shoot, a similar situation developed while working with the same photographer as his assistant with a different client of his. Due to this, I want to share a new story with you, Stories from Set: When Clients Sexualize Each Other During Your Shoot, Round II....
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How Photo Conferences Still Alienate Women in the Photo Industry

PhotoPlus Expo is the epitome of the autumnal photographic conference, an industry tradition of networking, investigating and testing out new products, asking experts questions, and listening to presentations from inspiring and talented brand-sponsored photographers. That said, without any question, every year, when I attend this conference, my fellow attendees are much more often male in identification. It’s a commonly acknowledged fact with other women in attendance, and is beginning to get noticed by other parts of the industry as well. As such, I was given a critical lens to examine PPE through (as a test model for conferences in general, a sample subject if you will): How can conferences make themselves more accessible to women, and what presently contributes to them being so male-dominated?...
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9 Questions Every Female Photographer Has Encountered in Her Career

What does it take to reach the level where you are respected and knowledgeable as a photographer? Unfortunately, that question is dependent upon a variety of variables, one of the biggest contenders being that of gender. While all of us suffer from the inevitable imposter syndrome that regularly accompanies the life and mentality of most artists, women in the industry are much more alienated and separated from feelings of success than their male counterparts. Why you might ask? In addition to all the pitfalls and hurdles that externally face all photographers, from dealing with clients to rights grab traps to equipment learning curves, women face an additional internal one – their male counterparts. Time and time again, I’ve encountered the same barrage of bullish questions that are laced with judgement and a lack of acceptance. Below are some of the most common questions thrown our way that consistently compromise and undermine our professionalism and sense of belonging within our industry....
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How the Photography Industry Changed for Women Over the Last Decade

It began as most things did, available only to the privileged few, mostly where wealth and power were concerned. As such, it’s pretty much undeniable that the field has historically been male-dominated, and slow to change with the times. While we’ve made many advancements as an industry, we still have a long way to go, and yet, there seems to be a lot of resistance in acknowledging how and where things still need to shift. Given this, we decided to explore the changes made over the years with female photographers who have been in the industry for at least a decade, if not longer. We spoke to them about how things were when they first started out, what things disappeared over time, and what things are still all too present in our community and culture. While some shifts have definitely happened, through speaking with these five phenomenal photographers, certain sentiments were repeatedly echoed as issues we still face today....
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Conceptual Photographer Katinka Schuett Explores the Idea of Space

“I like to plan pictures in advance and to deal intensively with picture ideas during the research phase.” explains conceptual photographer Katinka Schuett. “Conceptual photography leaves a lot more control than other photography subjects and allowing me to work with the subject very consciously.” Katinka is one of the two recent winners of the Female in Focus photography award. Her project, Cosmis Drive, revolves around the exciting intersection of conceptual images blended with realistic scientific components. It’s also an exploration of the human desire to communicate with the unknown. Below we delve deeper into these ideas present throughout her body of work and discuss her artistic journey as a photographer....
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How You’re Alienating Women in the Photo Industry (And Don’t Know It)

It’s been years of subtle stripping of humanity, constant questioning of my intellect, experience, and skill, and underminings of my opinions and feelings. I’ve already written about quite a few. Here, however, I’m speaking to a broader picture. The sense that we don’t belong because we didn’t pass enough ‘”tests” with a gearhead, or a demeaning comment about women was made in your presence, and how that divides and alienates women from the photographic community....
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When Photographers See Models as Human Props Instead of People

They’re opportunities to learn, reignite inspiration, and are an excellent excuse to get out of our editing caves and connect with other creatives. As such, several other members of The Phoblographer staff and I joined one on the last day of the expo and discovered a story deserving of discussion that unfolded right in front of us. Usually, photo walks are quite fun and create fun ways to connect with other photographers, but this walk in particular became a different sort of revelatory encounter. As the model who was hired to help with the photo walk joined us, we watched what we’ve all probably seen all too often on the set of a shoot: a slow but steady dehumanization of the young woman in front of us, beautiful, photogenic, and seen as a prop instead of a person....
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Claudia Paul Committed to Shooting a Unique Portrait Weekly for a Year

“My personal trick to keep me on track was to use Facebook as a tool for accountability.” states photographer Claudia Paul about her Wednesday Portraits series. “I publicly announced the project and the goal to post a new portrait every Wednesday. This way I would feel like a fraud if I didn’t deliver.” Claudia Paul is a German artist working and residing in New York City as a commercial photographer. She frequently dedicates herself to non-profit work, and is always developing new personal projects independent of her paid client work. She created a year-long challenge for herself: create a new portrait every Wednesday. In the process, she developed a beautiful collection of images while exercising and strengthening her creative muscle, and expanding her skills as an artist.  Below we explore the project, Wednesday Portraits....
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Stories From Set: I’m a Photographer and a Woman. And I Don’t Want Kids

Working on set can be challenging in a multitude of ways – from prestigious or demanding clients and having high-profile talent on set/in front of the camera, to tech and equipment doing undesirable or frustrating things. We sometimes also forget that navigating how and what we can discuss on set can be just as difficult, detrimental, and divisive. Frequently we’re thrown together in a mishmash of folks we barely know, whether producers, other assistants, or the photographers themselves. We’re stuck contending with how to work closely together while hardly knowing each other. So we try to collaborate, create conversation, find ways to connect with each other in the span of a few hours. It’s a delicate dance without context or insight into another person. It can often feel like walking through a minefield, unsure if what you’re saying will land well or poorly. If you’ve been in this game long enough, you learn the art of the quick connection, or how to thicken skin and work insulated, unaffected by this social quicksand....
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Cosplay Is Not Consent: A Reminder to the Photography Community

With New York Comic-Con comes the fandoms, the celebrity signings, and as we know all too well, the plethora of cosplay costumes. What could be more fun than dressing up as one of your favorite characters from a comic book, video game, or cult classic film with other avid appreciators who love them as much as you? Well, for women, it also brings with it a new window through which we are objectified, sexualized, and have our bodily autonomy infringed upon. And that isn’t nearly as much fun, let me tell you....
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Stories from Set: The Sexist Double Standard on a Photo Set

The photo assistant life is pretty iconic, right? You get to have all the fun of the shoot without the pressure of being the photographer, dealing with the client, managing post-production, etc. Essentially, all the pros without the cons. Sure, it also means being the go-for and putting your own ego/feelings aside. That comes with the territory and something I usually don’t mind. That said, when awful, sexist treatment comes into the equation, maintaining the balancing act of being a team player while also taking care of yourself becomes much more difficult. As discussed in previous articles from this series, frequently, the source of the problem is client-oriented. It’s a rock and a hard place situation when trying to figure out how to mitigate it. What’s even worse is when it’s a case of friendly fire – a most unexpected betrayal within the ranks in the pursuit of making powerful pictures....
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Photoville 2019 Was More Than Just Pretty Pictures

With an amazing production team and dedicated staff, I know that attending this one of a kind exhibition will always emotionally move me and leave me thinking critically, and as per usual, 2019 delivered just as I trusted it to. The beauty and magic of Photoville is its ability to explore and expose the need for intersectional representation, whether examining exhibitions from a perspective of sexuality, gender, ethnicity, etc, etc. Subsequently, I’d love to share with you some of the projects I found to be the most influential, and really examine why they are the powerful projects I find them to be, whether by breaking molds, highlighting issues frequently left on the table, or challenging the traditional narratives we so often encounter....
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The Power and Importance of Mentorship in the Photographic Community

We’ve all found our way into the photographic community at different times, in different ways, with enormous hurdles to surpass, no matter which way we found ourselves falling into this passion and career path. Whether college-educated, self-taught, or anywhere in between, it’s undeniable that the barriers of entry to our community can at times seem insurmountable. Regardless of how spectacular your undergraduate program, the dedication of your instructors, or your determination to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible, inevitably we’ve all discovered that at times we hit roadblocks, get stuck, or are at a loss of where to turn to for help. This is where I believe the most powerful, positive tool available to us can be found, when provided ethically, responsibly, and synergistically – mentorship....
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Exploring Why Photographers Did or Didn’t Pick Up a Camera on 9/11

When thinking about how to approach the upcoming 9/11 anniversary, I kept finding myself pondering the same question; what made some of our community members pick up a camera, while others chose to leave the gear at home and take in the traumatic experience?

We all face that dilemma of photographing the moment, vs. being ‘in’ the moment, and inarguably, our view behind the lens can be completely different than one absent of one. I encounter it regularly when it’s a beautiful sunset, moments with friends, cute captures of my cats – superfluous, trivial in comparison to the gravity that is the traumatic experience of experiencing 9/11 firsthand. That said,  the question remains the same – do I want to document what I’m seeing, or experience what I’m seeing? To explore this concept, while also give the appropriate reverence to the anniversary we’re coming upon, I interviewed two photographer friends of mine who both lived in the city and were present the day of the attacks. Ron Jautz chose to leave his camera at home, while Thomas Donley grabbed his gear and ran out the door, and yet, their answers reflect many similar sentiments. You can read both of their experiences in the dialogue below....
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The Importance of Finding Your Photo Family and Genuine Relationships

I think the way each of us finds our way into photography is as special and unique as the background from which we each come from. It’s a bit of our individual combinations of personality traits or the work we make behind the lens. Ultimately, we all each reached a point where we realized there was nothing else we wanted to do with our lives. And somewhere along with that passionate pursuit, you hit a bump in the road and didn’t know where to turn, or perhaps you find yourself in that space right now....
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Stories from Set: When Clients Sexualize Each Other During Your Shoot

“You’re just trying to lift her legs up higher to make her skirt shorter, aren’t you?”

It’s amazing how quickly what seems like a perfectly comfortable, fun environment turns into hostile territory for women in an instant by men making what they think are innocuous comments, like this one.

It started off as a normal enough day, with reasonable enough expectations. I needed to help the photographer I was assisting set up for studio portraits. That was one of my two main responsibilities: the other was keep the clients happy (one of his regulars, a law firm). A simple enough ask, which ultimately proved to be much more demanding than it should have been. People like to dismiss the importance of microaggressions (which exist in all forms, and for the course of this discussion, we’ll be talking about the ones women face with regularity)....
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Erik Marcinkowski’s Self Portraits Explore a Difficult Relationship with Food

Photographer Erik Marcinkowski, a commercial photographer with typically vibrantly bright, colorful work, has recently turned the camera on himself to examine his relationship with food, the path to self-love, and embracing male vulnerability. His project, aptly titled DiscomfortFood, is both exceptionally crafted technically and provides the opportunity for many important and necessary discussions about our society....
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Why the CASE Act Is So Incredibly Important for Every Photographer

If you’re reading this, at one point or another, you felt compelled to pick up a camera, pursue and develop the craft, or appreciate the immense talents of other image-makers. You found the satisfaction in documentation, capturing a moment, preserving a memory, literally stopping time. You discovered the power of the universe in your hands in that instant, and it inspired and ignited you only the way art, creation can. You felt that creative connection that I hope all of us get to experience as often and fully as possible, that artistic expression of self....
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Boys! Boys! Boys! Further Shows Objectification of Women in Photography

To follow the full scope of this article, please see the prior piece written on this gallery’s approach to online auctions. Sometimes people throw out the modern cultural adage ‘stay in your lane,‘ with varying degrees of validity. Thanks to Black Box Gallery, this is a particularly evident case of “more than warranted” – it’s...
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Calling Men: Sherri Littlefield’s Special Project with Snap! Spectacles

Sherri Nienass Littlefield, the Associate Director at Foley Gallery, and a photographer in her own right, has spent the better part of the last 4 months developing a new body of work, Calling Men, capturing documentary-style images of the men who catcall her on a regular basis. Through the use of special glasses (developed by Snapchat), Littlefield is able to subtly photograph her catcallers with her sunglasses in a less confrontational or direct way than a typical camera allows. The images she captures speak both to the frequency and severity of this universally shared female experience....
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Weighing in on Photographer Jason Lanier’s Sexual Assault Allegations

Former Sony Artisan Jason Lanier (who was dismissed for undisclosed reasons) is now facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct from several models who have previously worked with him. To engage in this discussion, we need to break a few things down first; one is the importance of power dynamics at play in a situation like a photographer/model relationships. One woman’s video speaks to character assassination on multiple, professional levels – a fear so many of us deal with when faced with these situations....
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Ami Vitale Shares Insights for Creating a Solid Grant Submission

“Turn off social media and the tv and read voraciously.” says photographer Ami Vitale when asked about resources for grant applications. This year, Ami is the first female judge for the Imagely Fund–which is looking to provide a grant for one environmental photography project and one for a humanitarian photography project. Each of which has a $5,000 prize. As a judge, we talked to Ami Vitale to get some answers to the all-too-often obscure and confusing enigma that is submitting grant applications....
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Stories From Set: Being a Woman on a Photo Shoot

“Well, If I had a body like hers, I wouldn’t mind!” The client told the photographer who I was working for as his photo editor. We were photographing a law firm, creating new headshots as well as capturing full body images, and the lawyer in question who just came in for his session was disappointed to discover the latter aspect....
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Girls! Girls! Girls!: A Take on the Objectification of Women in Photography

We all know the endless battle of trying to maintain a clean and tidy inbox–the constant digital influx of opportunities, notifications, spam, work, and various other textually-based content that we seem just barely able to keep up with. I don’t know about you, but one of the ways I try to stem the flow is by keeping a firm grip on unsubscribing from irrelevant subscriptions. Needless to say, I found myself doing a double take–wondering what kind of sexist, objectifying garbage spam email listing I’d accidentally been added to when I scrolled through an email in my inbox containing what you’ll see in the lead image....
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Why Don’t We Teach Photographers What to Charge for Their Photos?

I’ve heard countless versions of the same story: a photo assistant discovering that the photographer charged the client double what they paid the assistant in regards to the assistant fee on the client’s invoice, a tragic problem frequently encountered and rarely remedied. When I first began photo assisting, I was massively underselling myself without realizing, and people took significant advantage – it was only when another female photographer pulled me aside and told me what my rates should be that I realized how much I had been selling myself short. And in a world where women’s requests for what we’re worth are rarely met, though asked for just as often as men, having a lack of knowledge and confidence about how and what you should be charging makes it that much harder to keep our industry healthy, vibrant, and lucrative....
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