The Japanese imaging company—led by an all-male board—was butchered online for sexism after using 32 men to promote its new D850 camera
At the heart of image, as Nikon’s slogan goes, are no women.
The Tokyo-based camera maker is receiving much social media flak after a promotional campaign for its latest D850 camera that featured only men. Nikon had invited 32 “creative individuals” from Asia, the Middle East and Africa to test the device, but wound up with a grand total of zero female pro shooters at its advertising event.
The faux pas was first spotted by a hobbyist photographer website, which sarcastically pondered if the “beast of a camera [is] too much for women to handle.” It also triggered a viral and typically snarky social media reaction: one Twitter wag wondered if she needed an anatomical part associated with men to “fire the shutter.” British photographer Marie Gardiner tweeted a mock D850 ad that promised a camera that was pink, small (“perfect for your itty bitty lady hands”) and without unimportant bits like a sensor “so your delicate necks can support the weight.”
— Marie Gardiner (@MarieGardiner) September 15, 2017
Nikon didn’t help matters with what some took to be an inadequate response to the internet outrage. In a statement posted on the Twitter account of its Asian operations, the camera maker admitted that “we had not put enough of a focus on this area” but blamed the absence of women on the fact that “female photographers we invited…were unable to attend.” Somewhat bizarrely, Nikon also added that it “appreciated the support from our photography community to see better participation from female photographers.”
The tone deafness isn’t exactly surprising. All 11 board directors listed on Nikon’s corporate website appear to be Asian men, many of whom are well into their middle age. There is growing evidence that having more women on company boards increases perspectives and improves corporate performance.
Nikon isn’t the only company that’s come under fire for promotional material that’s perceived as sexist. Earlier this year, Carl’s Jr. released an ad claiming that the fast food chain would stop making its controversial so-called “slutburger” ads that featured half-naked women. However, it appeared to suggest that this was because the fictional Carl Jr. corporate heir was being distracted from his job by the presence of attractive women.
The social media backlash may blow over soon enough, but it belies the challenges facing female photographers. Despite groundbreaking pioneers like the late war photographer Marie Colvin and their overwhelming representation in photojournalism classes, women only make up about 15% of entries to the World Press Photo awards, a recent New York Times investigation showed.
This had led some female photographers to take things into their own hands. The fashion pro snapper Amanda de Cadenet last year organized a #girlgaze exhibition in Los Angeles featuring only teenage women photographers. A book titled “#girlgaze: How Girls See the World” is set to be published next month.
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