Seeing the world through a female lens

August 30, 2021

Seeing the world through a female lens

Photo: Lesley Whyte

World Photography Day celebrations may have been put on hold by the Covid-19 lockdown but that will not stop photographer Lesley Whyte from encouraging women to try looking at the world through a lens.

Ms Whyte is the founder of Women in Photography, a trans-Tasman organisation dedicated to inspiring and training women of all ages in the art of photography.

She runs workshops, networking events, and tours for photographers of all levels in New Zealand, Australia and around the world.

Photo: Lesley Whyte

Women in Photography was created due to her own experiences of sexism in the photography industry, mostly during her transition from a film to a digital camera.

After seeking help from male-dominated photography workshops, only to be treated as unintelligent and made to feel like an outsider, Ms Whyte looked to create a safe space for budding women photographers.

She felt there must be other women who were experiencing these feelings but not confident enough to say anything.

“For me that is what I think the struggle is. That's the barrier I break down.

Photo: Lesley Whyte

By having no men [involved], you can ask those questions that you might think are dumb or silly and no-one’s going to laugh at you,” Ms Whyte said

“We have people who haven't ever turned a camera on in their life . . . and professional photographers who come along and self-manage. They don’t need the mentoring, but they come along because they love the camaraderie.”

A women-centred atmosphere also gives women a chance to be themselves with their camera and live up to Ms Whyte’s philosophy of “anytime with a camera is a good time".

Covid-19 is no exception to this, and has created unique opportunities for photographers, Ms Whyte said.

“What Covid has enabled us to do is get to know our own backyard . . . and that has actually allowed us to reframe the whole organisation.

“Photography is also really good for your mental wellbeing . . . When you are operating a camera your brain doesn’t get to think about those other pressures in your life because you’ve got to be in the moment.”

For those women who want to take up photography but are too afraid to ask the basic questions, Ms Whyte has the following advice: “We have all been where you are now and we can help you.”

Photo: Lesley Whyte

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