Inclusion Rider This: Magazine Cover Photographers by Gender

Inclusion Rider This: Magazine Cover Photographers by Gender

Women Photograph, the initiative to “elevate the voice of female photojournalists,” has been tracking the lead photo bylines for 8 top newspapers around the world. Here are the results for 2017:

Given that each newspaper uses a combination of wire and staff photography to produce their front page, there is no single explanation for the results. Women are underrepresented in the industry in general, so it’s not surprising that the creators of the photos skew male. But single digit representation by a cohort that represents roughly 50% of the worldwide population suggests that the industry has a long way to go if it values representative voices among its storytellers. (We won’t get into a lengthy diatribe about why it’s important to have female doctors, lawyers, scientists, firemen, photographers, etc.)

The results of the newspaper front page made us wonder whether things were as bleak with magazines. Magazines typically have larger budgets and often larger circulations than many newspapers. The cover assignments pay significantly more than inside features, and can be a good proxy for how directors of photography (DoP) view who is “important” in the editorial world. Cover photographers tend to be “conservative” choices – i.e. DoPs rarely take a chance with a new photographer because the stakes are very high with cover photography, particularly when it features a celebrity. As you will see in the breakdown, it’s common for a magazine to frequently use the same, small pool of cover photographers.

More and more women are taking DoP positions at major publications. Half of the magazines we surveyed had female DoPs (or equivalent title), but this fact hasn’t translated into more proportional hiring to date. 

We chose 8 titles that had large circulations in a variety of interest areas. Our methodology tallies the last 12 covers that featured photography. If a cover featured an illustration, composite or handout, we didn’t include it. This ensured that each sample consisted of 12 photos. If a photographer team consisted of a man and woman, it was awarded 0.5 of a cover. Here is the summary:

  • National Geographic: 0/12 (0%)
  • Sports Illustrated: 0/12 (0%)
  • TIME: 2/12 (16%)
  • Cosmopolitan: 1/12 (8%)
  • Vogue: 5/12 (41%)
  • Condé Nast Traveler: 3.5/12 (29%)
  • Entertainment Weekly: 0/12 (0%)
  • AARP: 0/12 (0%)

Addressing the gender disparity will never be the top priority for a Director of Photography. But we suspect that the status quo is maintained because the gender data isn’t readily available. Awareness will undoubtedly be an on-going tool in shrinking the gender gap, and we hope that others in the photographic community start auditing this type of data and posting it online.

At the 2018 Oscars, Francis McDormand uttered the phrase “inclusion rider” – explaining that she didn’t know she had the option or leverage to force productions to use a certain percentage of women or people of color (POC) in the cast and crew. The concept could be extended to the photography realm. If DoPs aren’t going to be more proactive about hiring women, then the celebrities appearing in cover stories should demand inclusion riders. It’s a simple ask, and we could recommend a database of great women photographers.

 

Breakdown by publication:

Here is the magazine cover data broken out by month. Out of 8 magazines representing 96 different covers, only 5 women shot by themselves (Annie Leibovitz, Ellen von Unwerth, Luisa Dörr, MK Sadler, Amanda Marsalis). Of the 8 covers photographed by these 5 individuals, Leibovitz shot half of them.

National Geographic: (0/12)

  • 1/2016: Stephen Wilkes
  • 2/2016: illustration
  • 3/2016: Brian Finke
  • 4/1/2016: Joel Sartore
  • 5/1/2016: illustration
  • 6/1/2016: illustration
  • 7/1/2016: illustration
  • 8/1/2016: illustration
  • 9/1/2016: David Littschwager
  • 10/1/2016: Corey Arnold
  • 11/1/2016: Indian Space Research Organization
  • 12/1/2016: painting
  • 1/1/2017: Robin Hammond
  • 2/1/2017: Brian Finke
  • 3/1/2017: Robert Clark and David Guttenfelder
  • 4/1/2017: illustration
  • 5/1/2017: illustration
  • 6/1/2017: illustration
  • 7/1/2017: Laurent Ballesta
  • 8/1/2017: space
  • 9/1/2017: illustration
  • 10/1/2017: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images
  • 11/1/2017: James Kaiser
  • 12/1/2017: painting
  • 1/1/2018: Joel Sartore
  • 2/1/2018: illustration
  • 3/1/2018: Martin Schoeller

Sports Illustrated: (0/12)

  • 2/26/18: Robert Beck
  • 2/19/18: Ben Watts
  • 2/12/18: Rob Tringali
  • 1/29/18: Erick Rasco
  • 1/15/18: Simon Bruty
  • 12/25/17: composite
  • 12/14/17: illustration
  • 12/11/17: Robert Beck
  • 12/04/17: Simon Bruty
  • 11/20/17: Jeffrey Salter
  • 11/13/17: Greg Nelson
  • 11/6/17: Simon Bruty
  • 10/9/17: illustration
  • 10/2/17: composite
  • 9/25/17: Jeffrey Salter
  • 9/18/17: Erick Rasco

TIME: (2/12)

  • 9/4/17 Finlay McKay
  • 9/18/17 Luisa Dörr
  • 9/25/17: satellite photo
  • 10/2/17: illustration
  • 10/9/17: illustration
  • 10/16/17: illustration
  • 10/23/17: Maurice Haas
  • 10/30/17: Erik madigan Heck
  • 11/6/17: illustration
  • 11/13/17: illustration
  • 11/20/17 Nadav Kander
  • 11/27/17 Sebastian Mader
  • 12/11/17: illustration
  • 12/18/17: Billy & Hells (½)
  • 12/25/18: Michal Pudelka
  • 1/15/18: Olaf Blecker
  • 1/22/18: Illustration
  • 1/29/18: composite
  • 2/5/18: illustration
  • 2/12/18: Bettman ARchive
  • 2/19/18: Williams+Hirakawa (½)
  • 2/26/18: Illustration
  • 3/5/18: James Nachtwey
  • 3/12/18: Mark Mahaney

Cosmopolitan (1/12)

  • 2/18: Kai Z Feng
  • 1/18: Jason Kim
  • 12/17: Kai Z Feng
  • 11/17: Ben Watts
  • 10/17: Max Abadian
  • 9/17: Ellen Von Unwerth
  • 8/17: Ben Watts
  • 7/17: James White
  • 6/17: James Macari
  • 5/17: James White
  • 4/17: Eric Ray Davidson
  • 3/17: Ben Watts

Vogue (5/12)

  • 2/2018: Mario Testino
  • 1/2018: Mikael Jansson
  • 12/2017: Annie Leibovitz
  • 11/2017: Mario Testino
  • 10/2017: Annie Leibovitz
  • 9/2017: Annie Leibovitz
  • 8/2017: Inez & Vinoodh (½)
  • 7/2017: Mario Testino
  • 6/2017: Annie Leibovitz
  • 5/2017: Mert & Marcus
  • 4/2017: Mert & Marcus
  • 3/2017: Inez & vinoodh (½)

Condé Nast Traveler (3.5/12)

  • 3/2018: MK Sadler
  • 2/2018: Paola + Murray (½)
  • 1/2018: Adrian Gaut
  • 12/2017: Matt Hranek
  • 11/2017: Matt Hranek
  • 10/2017: Oddur Thorisson
  • 9/2017: Andrea Gentl & Martin Hyers (½)
  • 8/2017: Alex Grossman
  • 6-7/2018: Amanda Marsalis
  • 4/2018: Omar Viktor
  • 3/2018: Andrea Gentl & Martin Hyers (½)
  • 2/2018: Matt Hranek

Entertainment Weekly (0/12)

  • 12/29/17: composite
  • 12/15: handout
  • 12/8: Art Streiber
  • 12/1: handout
  • 11/17: Ruven Afandor
  • 11/3: illustration
  • 10/20: Finlay McKay
  • 10/13: Victor Demarchelier
  • 10/6: Dan Winters
  • 9/29: Art Streiber
  • 9/22: Composite
  • 9/15: Ruven Afanador
  • 9/1: Ruven Afanador
  • 8/18: handout
  • 8/11: Robert Trachtenberg
  • 8/4: Matthias Clamer
  • 7/21: Kwaku Alston
  • 7/7: handout
  • 7/30: Alexei Hay

AARP (0/12)

  • 2-3/2018: Robert Trachtenberg
  • 12/2017-1/2018: Jeff Lipsky
  • 10/2017: Robert Trachtenberg
  • 8/2017: Ruven Afandor
  • 6/2017: Robert Trachtenberg
  • 4/2017: Jeff Lipsky
  • 2/2017: Robert Trachtenberg
  • 12/2016 Ruven Afandor
  • 10/2016: Sam Jones
  • 8/2016: Jim Wright
  • 6/2016: Nino Muñoz
  • 4/2016: Chris Craymer
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Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

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