Thursday, 8 March 2012

In 2012 photography is still a male-dominated industry, in which women are far more often the ones being snapped than the ones doing the snapping. To mark International Women’s Day, we caught up with Fiona Rogers, founder of Firecracker, a website that promotes European female photographers...

Why did you decide to set up Firecracker? 
In my day job working at Magnum I came into contact with a lot of great women, but because Magnum’s a cooperative run by the photographers, staff don’t really get involved in the selection process for new photographers coming on board. So I didn’t really have an outlet for these amazing women photographers that I was coming into contact with, and I thought that was a great shame.

What does Firecracker do?
It’s a monthly feature [online] dedicated to one photographer’s project. I don’t show portfolios of work, I show bodies of work; but they can be works in progress, they can be completed bodies of work or they can be preliminary ideas, so it’s fairly flexible. The idea was that it would be a platform to showcase European photographers. The reason I restricted it to European photographers is because the website’s only run by me and I needed to have some restriction on it in order to limit the number of submissions I was getting.

What are you looking for in choosing a photographer to feature on the site?
I’m looking for originality: projects that I’ve never heard of or that have been dealt with in a different way to the standard documentary practices. The website accommodates a few different types of photographic genre but documentary photography is my key interest. I have had people email me with some really conceptual projects but it’s not where my passion lies.

Why do you think photography is still such a male-dominated industry? 
This is all just sweeping generalisation and there will always be women who defy these rules, but coming from my experience of having worked in the industry it seemed to me that there are a lot of women working in photography but not very many of them producing work.

There are a lot of great [female] picture editors, there are a lot of great commissioning bodies run by women, but for some reason not so many behind the camera. I don’t know why it is. I don’t think there are fewer female photographers, because the statistics of women studying photography are encouraging – the latest reports show something like 80 percent of people studying photography are female – but that it doesn’t necessarily translate once a student has graduated.

What advice do you have for young female photographers?
Form collectives to combine forces with like-minded people – that’s advice I’d have for any photographer. I think the problem sometimes for photographers is that they’re solo operators and you can lose touch if you’re a freelancer. In a cooperative environment like Magnum, there’s a sense of community. It’s a good way of making sure everybody’s aware of the current economy.

This article originally appeared on IdeasMag.

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