Text by Amanda Stevenson, Copyright 2022
A Career as a Female Photographer
My mother was a professional model, I preferred to be on the other side of the camera. I was given my first camera at age 12 and haven’t put it down since. I was fortunate to observe and work with many great photographers through my mothers connections. I choose to be a commercial photographer because it was a creative field that I could make a living and be an independent woman.
After studying commercial photography at college I landed my first full time job in Switzerland as a staff photographer for a pharmaceutical company. What a trip that was! They were very traditional and had been using the same equipment since World War II. This seemed like an opportunity to introduce them to quicker, easier equipment and techniques. But they were not open to any new ideas. And I got the feeling that in an all male work environment they were not interested in learning from a woman. How could a young 20 year old American woman be able to teach them anything? It was a male dominated business and for the most part still is, though now there are many prominent Woman photographers that have made their mark in the commercial photography industry, like Annie Leibowitz, Ellen von Unwerth, Daniela Federici, Sarah Moon and so many more past and current commercial and fine art female photographers.
This work experience in Switzerland put me on the path to learn how female photographers handled the predominately male work force. So I headed to NYC but It wasn’t easy trying to get hired to be an assistant to a female photographer, they all had men working for them. And who doesn’t like to be around young strong handsome men? My first attempts at interviewing for an assistant position were all ejections. So I had a new plan, I was going to dress like a man (wearing a tub top under my baggy t-shirt and I cut my hair short) very androgynous and calling myself Charlie. That didn’t work either, I think they knew I was a woman. Now in our transgender climate, maybe it would be much easier. Plan B, I decided to hype up the fact that I was a woman and marched into Annie Leibowitz’s studio in my black & white poke dot “power suite” of course it was a skirt and jacket, very 1980’s Joan Collins. Leibovitz thought I was crazy arriving at the interview in clothes that I clearly could not lug heavy equipment or crawl around rigging lights and gear. But it worked, I had a freelance gig with a female photographer, and the best in the world in the 1990’s. I was assisting all over NYC and Philly and ended up working for a very talented untrained Spanish female photographer. One day she wigged out and didn’t show up for work. The clients asked me if I would do the photography. It was my lucky break and I worked for them for the next 7yrs. I was officially a working photographer with my own studio and getting new clients every month. To this day I pride myself on negotiating like a man, no emotion, all business and use my feminine style when meeting clients. Of course I try to hire an all female staff. I still have my studio where I work and play everyday!
About The Author: Amanda Stevenson is a professional photographer having over 25 years of experience. Amanda uses her diligent nature and artistic vision to collaborate with her clients to display the still and video imagery in various publications and exhibitions around the world. To learn more about Amanda Stevenson photographic services, click here: https://amandastevensonphoto.com
Portraits of Amanda Stevenson by Tony Ward. Creative Direction by KVaughn,. Photographers assistant, Anthony Colagreco. Copyright 2022.