Seriously? Women portrayed in media

Usually when this topic comes up, my immediate response is, “Don’t even get me started!” Today, I can’t stop myself from giving a message to photographers.

I’ll preface this by telling you that I am also a photographer. Although the vast proportion of my experience was in documenting evidence, crime scenes and motor vehicle collisions, I have done quite a few portraits, weddings, and general photography. When it comes to finding photos for advertising, covers, etc, I don’t always have the facilities, time, props or models to fulfill my needs. That’s when I turn to the online stock photo websites, and that’s when I get frustrated.

woman with an idea isolated over white

For example, today I was looking for photos for my next book, featuring a confident middle-aged woman. I typed in these search terms: “woman” “middle-aged”. The images returned were mostly of smiling thirty year olds, or women in the kitchen. I added “serious” to my search and was appalled by the results. Over half the images featured mostly puzzled-looking women with either their finger or thumb up alongside their face. Nearly all of them were looking off into space. Seriously?

Middle aged caucasian man with doubtful expresssion and arms crossed looking at camera over white background.When I swapped in the word “man” for woman, I got rows of photos of men in confident poses, arms crossed, looking straight into the camera. One man on the entire page was in the classic pensive pose with his finger curled under his chin. Seriously?

I remember how frustrated I was trying to find good stock photos of real female police officers for my Intuition Series thriller novels. If you want to understand what I mean, go to any stock photo website and type in “woman” and “police”. Then do the same for “man”. Depending on your XXX filter settings, you may be offended by the proportion of truly skanky female officers as compared to male. Seriously?

You can do this for pretty much any search term involving men and women. Women are not taken seriously, and it’s about time.

Photographers: It is 2015.
Up. Your. Game.

Makenzi Fisk
Author website: