Women Macro Photographers

Posted: August 12, 2016 in Uncategorized
In my Macro Boot Camps the percent of women attending is about 65 percent.  Actually at my very first Macro Photo Conference we had sold out at 100 seats and 70 of those seats were women.  So a large portion of macro photographers seem to be women.
In yesterday’s post I talked about shooting more to improve your macro skills.  It was mentioned on facebook that for women getting out to shoot more can be a problem because it’s not always safe for women to go out alone in the woods or field.
Unfortunately we live in a society that has a small percent of sick males that can’t control themselves, which causes problems for the women when found alone out in a wooded area.
So women either take a chance and go alone, or find a photo friend and go together. Of course even if you have a photo friend to go with, it doesn’t always work out with schedules, so that can limit the times you can shoot.
So men do have an advantage over the women for shooting time.  The thought has never ever crossed my mind that there will be any danger to me when I go out to shoot, expect maybe a rabid squirrel 🙂   But I can see this as a very real issue for the women.
I don’t know what the answer would be for women going it alone, other than arming yourself in some way, so if any of you ladies have any advice for your fellow lady photographers on what you do to ease your mind when you go out, please comment here.
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  1. kerirusso says:

    Hi Mike, I do find this to be an issue for me for macro photogtaphy and for other photography in general. Being alone in secluded areas in the early morning hours makes me a little nervous and definately limits the frequency of my shooting. I try to bring my husband along with me so I can get to that pond for dragonflies, or that far point on a deserted beach for a sunrise. And now that my kids are older it’s getting easier, but for a while both of us couldn’t go out together because someone needed to stay with the kids, especially when it was before sunrise or after dark. And you’re right, going with a friend or other photographer can be tricky with everyone’s work schedules, leaving maybe 1 weekend day as an option, and those are far and few in between.

    I’ve started putting bird feeders in my yard and have sunflowers growing along my fence which attract lots of bees, birds and other insects so there’s more subject matter closer to home, but it still doesn’t solve the issue of exploring new places with my camera.

    I keep my phone charged and accessible and always let others know where I’m going and check in often.

    I suppose arming myself is an option, like carrying mace or other weapon (I’m actually in the process of getting a LTC) but it is so sad that we have to worry about our lives when watching a dragonfly wake up or the sun set. Not to mention it’s extra gear to take along that you have to be so careful about.

    I guess I’m trying to balance the little voice in my head of my mother reminding me not to go places like that alone, and the voice of my husband saying you also have to live your life and find ways to do what you enjoy.

    I guess it’s like anything…finding balance.

    Thanks for all the great posts, and looking forward to hearing some other suggestions from fellow women out there.


    • Mike Moats says:

      Thanks for the response Keri, Yes it’s a sick society we have to deal with, and such a shame that women feel they can’t go out along for fear of being attacked. Check on my facebook page as I’m sure there will be more response than here.

  2. Nina Shields says:

    Sadly, this is a real problem in all areas of photography when it comes to women shooting alone. I am very aware of being alone, with expensive equipment, and am selective about where I shoot. I think it really helps to have some photo buddies to cut down on the vulnerability factor. I have a license to carry but don’t even own a gun; I really don’t want to shoot anything other than a camera! 🙂 Admittedly, concentrating on a beautiful macro subject can make one less aware of what is going on around them. I think we need to soak up the beauty of nature, while maintaining safety as a top priority. I greatly prefer shooting in natural settings but have resorted to an in home macro set up so that I can just relax and create!

  3. Roxana Whitt says:

    Thanks, Mike. I really appreciate this post. Most guys don’t think about this issue unless it’s their wife or daughter saying they’re going out alone, and then the antenna goes up. I can’t tell you how much I’d like to head off into the Shenandoah by myself for a shoot, but I can’t bring myself to do that. It’s too scary. At my age, any weapon I carry would likely be used on me rather than by me. My guy likes to go places and he likes to take pictures, but it’s not the same as wanting to be a photographer. The patience isn’t there. So mostly I look for a group, which has its own limitations.

  4. Mike Moats says:

    Thanks for posting Roxana

  5. Elyssa says:

    The answer for me was to take a martial art. My art of choice was Aikido, I now walk in the world with a presence of ease and comfort. A criminal (unless he is deranged) can sense your demeanor/confidence and leave you alone. Studies have shown that the criminal is looking for someone who puts off the vibe of victim. But I am smart about where and when choose to walk alone.

    • Mike Moats says:

      Thanks Elyssa, it would be a good idea for women to take a self defense course if they are determined to go out alone. Someone mentioned a tripod is a good weapon, so ladies keep that in mind. I’ve have been out shooting in areas where bears were present, and along with carrying bear spray, I also thought that I would use my tripod as a weapon if I needed it.

  6. Ellen Stevens says:

    One of my early photo classes talked about this. I never gave it a thought till then. The teacher reminded us that the camera and the tripod can really pack a punch if they are used to protect ourselves. I get shooting and realize I am off the road and alone and usually leave. Always tell someone where you are going, how long you will be there, be very aware of surroundings. Sad times, but a good reminder, Mike.

  7. Barbara says:

    Thanks for writing about this Mike. It really is an barrier to going out and it’s important to have men talking about it too. The more we can send the message that this is unacceptable the better.

  8. Claire Waring says:

    I can sympathise with the comments already made. Here in the UK, I don’t think we have quite as big a problem as you do in the US (or maybe I just don’t go to those places) but it can still be scary being a woman on her own. I’ve just been sent a note from someone who runs self defence classes saying that a can of wasp spray is more effective than a mace/pepper spray as it travels further when you use it. Aim for the eyes and it can seriously inconvenience your attacker! Apparently, wasp spray also kills snakes and mice. It even kills wasps!

    • Mike Moats says:

      Thanks Claire, and yes you are right, the wasp sprays do spray a long distance. Not sure what it would do to an attackers eyes, but unfortunately here in the US if a women spayed an attacked with something that injured their eyes, they more then likely get sued by the attacker and lose. Again it’s a sad place we live in when that could actually happen.

      • Claire Waring says:

        It’s a tragedy that we are being scared to do things that we ought to be able to enjoy without a problem. However, I think there is also a danger that we scare ourselves out of doing things too. In the media we only hear about the incidents when things go horribly wrong, but we don’t hear about the thousands of other similar happenings where things are completely OK. I totally agree that we need to be very aware of potential situations and ready to react. Maybe just spraying the wasp spray at someone will surprise them enough to give you a small advantage! They would probably sue here in the UK as well.

      • Mike Moats says:

        Claire, it is bad enough that you have to be scared to go out alone, and if you are attacked and defend yourself you could get sued by the attacker. attackers sues, and some smart lawyer would twist it around that it was your fault and win the case. Sad state of affairs.

  9. Linda Brooks says:

    I completely agree about the potential danger to a woman alone in a secluded place, For those who can’t find someone to go along and feel uncomfortable going alone, Macro photography can still be very pleasurable. We can always collect things, stone, leaves, seeds and other small things found in nature and bring them home to “stage” a scene. There are tons of things around the house and your own back yard that make beautiful shots. When you can find a partner, I say go for it but don’t be put off if you can’t. It’s the end result of the photo that matters the most. Where there is a will, there is a way.

  10. Lois Teerling says:

    This is my first time commenting and the subject matter is an important one. I am a women and I never go it alone into a wooded area or any area for that matter. I get too caught up in my photo shoot to be really aware of my surroundings so I think it’s better to have another person along just to add to the awareness factor.
    Because Macro does not involve traveling to a special location like a Landscape photographer must for variation in scenery, I can do much of my Macro work either in my own back yard or in very busy Public Parks like the Botanic Gardens or city streets.
    Always make safety the number one concern!
    I also carry Mace with me 🙂

  11. Debbie Bice says:

    I have been traveling and tent camping all over the U.S. alone as a woman photographer for many years and there are certain rules and guidelines you must educate yourself too as well as learning and understanding the word “AWARENESS”. I have never had a problem in fact I am the key note speaker this fall at the Business of Art in Kanab Utah talking about this subject for women.

  12. This issue really hit home with me. Just last night I wanted to go out and shoot the Perseid meteor shower which means getting away from the city lights. I was not comfortable going out by myself after midnight into a secluded area and fortunately my husband went with me. But it’s sad that I feel I have to restrict myself to photographing in places where there are enough people around that I feel safe.

  13. Nancy Bell says:

    When possible, I take my dog with me. At least he will alert me to people/animals near by.

  14. Terry Sandlin says:

    Though not always possible, a healthy loyal German Shepard dog is better than being armed. (Perps won’t even get close to you so you won’t need the weapon.) I don’t have such a dog; yet, sometimes I wished I did.

  15. Sandy says:

    I usually buy flowers and photograph them at home for that very reason. I feel comfortable going to botanical gardens and zoos, but am not comfortable going hiking in the woods or walking around San Francisco by myself.

  16. Mike Moats says:

    The dog idea sounds good if it’s a dog that looks aggressive if someone was coming close by. Last year north of where I live a young girl was killed on a bike path near a wooded area. She had a dog with her, but the dog didn’t detour the the attacker, as it may have been friendly to anyone approaching. They did eventually catch the douche bag that attacked her.

  17. Nina Shields says:

    My dog weighs five pounds; my only hope would be for the bad guy to trip over him! 🙂

  18. I usually recommend, to all photographers male and female, when out shooting in nature or in other areas as well, wear a good quality brass lifeguard type of whistle. Wear it on a lanyard or somehow on your body because it does no good in your camera bag. If you need help it can be heard for a much longer distance than shouting and usually draws attention. It might even be enough to scare a predator away. This is a good idea in general. In this area at least a couple times every year one or more nature photographers step backwards while composing a shot and fall down a ravine, sometimes breaking bones. They yell for help and often are not heard for hours or until they are missed and someone comes looking for them. They have a much better chance of being heard if blowing a whistle and the whistle does no good if it’s still in the camera bag at the top of the ravine!

  19. Mike, I find I feel that way a lot of the time, and it’s not just macro. It affects me going out in the early mornings or late evenings for my landscape, and definitely not the middle of the night for star and other sky shots. It affects all aspects. For my macro/close-up, you’ll see a lot of pictures of my flowers we grow around the house. I also happen to live next to a sanctuary, that I usually have my dog with me. So shooting in there, I feel relatively safe. There are also botanical gardens, Japanese gardens, the zoo, and a few other public places, that feel pretty safe going by myself. I also have the advantage of a loving husband who enjoys going with me on photo hunts and drives. But there are a lot of places I’d like to go to, but don’t because he’s not available or dogs aren’t allowed. As you can tell, most of my photography is nature, but my macro pictures have really suffered the most. I’m sure people are getting tired of see the flowers from our gardens. Safety in the city and out in the country is a real issue for women.

  20. Thanks for bringing this up. It’s all too true. I live in Seattle, a big city. It’s dangerous in many places all times of the day. I just have to work around that. However, recently, my husband and I were in our State Capitol at midnight in the small town of Olympia, Washington. We were shooting and all of a sudden, I thought, this is not safe. What am I doing? Then, off in the corners, I noticed discreetly parked were State Patrol cars! Wow, they make it safe for we citizens to come shoot our beautiful state capitol at night! What a treat that was! No macro that night, but beautiful night shots.

  21. Joyce Harman says:

    This is a good topic. though i have to agree with the posters that said learning some marshal arts, self defense (lots of classes around) are a big help in being able to feel safe. I hike in places like the Shenandoah NP, camp all around, and always by myself. I have taken a few self defense classes and will do more, it helps me feel safer. I shoot at night a lot by myself, but i am blessed with a country location. I can totally see why you would not want to shoot in the city alone. Many of the national, and state parks really are safe. Check the crime stats for places you might want to go.

  22. Alfie Wace says:

    Thank you so much, Mike, for following up on this important issue!

  23. mortensonmonitor says:

    Tuxedo mentioned wanting to shoot the recent meteor shower. I enjoy night photography, too, and even with a companion don’t always feel safe in the remote areas a person needs to go to in order to get away from city lights. I solved that by joining the local astronomy club. Now I have lots of people around me and a number of safe and dark locations to shoot at. I would think joining hiking clubs, garden clubs, astronomy clubs etc., that schedule regular events, may give a photographer a chance to shoot at new locations and have the safety of numbers while doing so.

  24. Terry Rowe says:

    Thanks for bringing this issue forward. I’ve often found myself out in the middle of nowhere, no cell service, and no one knowing where I am (trying to do better at telling people where I”m going – but sometimes the unnamed road looks too interesting to pass by).

    That said I do look over my shoulder, a lot, and worry some. I actually feel safer way out in the woods than I do in the city shooting – I’ve had men get in my face street shooting but never had any issues by myself in the woods. I also like to shoot abandoned buildings – and most of the time – make sure I have a photo-buddy.

    Risks in shooting solo do not only apply to other humans, but animals, injuries in the field, and even getting lost, are also potential issues.

    Going out on group classes, meet-ups, and with photo groups helps me “check out” an area, and usually gives me a good idea as to whether I’d feel safe going back there alone.

    I’m also thinking a really good whistle or air horn might be useful.

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