“Level playing fields.”
And similar terms, that we’ve all heard many times before, when it comes to describing the push for women to be able to compete, professionally. One might think that Magnum – with its commitment to journalistic truths, its inherent desire to expose the true nature of the world; via more than six decades of realities captured by photographers who sometimes actually died in the process of recording those “truths” – would be ahead of the curve in acknowledging women as equal arbiters of our stories.
Yet, even though Magnum was admitting women into its ranks two decades before New York Times did so, it’s clear that that in photography – like in life, and politics, and gender, and war – that context is everything.
The Guardian looks at the role women have played in the agency’s history:
“3 of the 9 photographers now going through the process of acquiring membership are women … One of the nominees, Newsha Tavakolian, is the subject of a picture by another of the agency’s photographers, her fellow Iranian Abbas. It shows her at work in a press pack among a bunch of short-sleeved, bare-headed cameramen. Tavakolian is the one obliged to cover her head and arms. It is a reminder that in some places women struggle just to become professional photographers, making the idea of joining Magnum an almost impossible dream.”
There is still work to be done.