Female Photographers Can’t Be Nikon D850 Ambassadors? Controversy Ensues After Nikon Asia Omits Women


Legendary and respected Japanese camera manufacturer Nikon finds itself at the heart of a scandal following its selection of an all-male cast of photographers to be “Ambassadors” in a marketing campaign for the new Nikon D850 DSLR in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East according to Petapixel.

photo by Parag Deshmukh

The cadre of photographers, 32 in total, focuses on professionals in the field of photography and well-known names such as fashion photographer Cameron Grayson and art photographer Patrick Cheung. With such an expansive and long list, many question Nikon’s decision to not include a single female photographer in its list of luminaries.

FStoppers published an article titled “Is the Nikon D850 for Men Only?” on its website, wondering aloud if this is a deliberate decision on the part of Nikon’s team or an honest mistake.

With anger growing in the community and on social media, Nikon Asia’s Twitter account (https://twitter.com/NikonAsia) responded directly to the controversy, saying: “Unfortunately, the female photographers we had invited for this meet were unable to attend, and we acknowledge that we had not put enough of a focus on this area. We want to thank the community for raising this and challenging us to do more to support the creative talent of our female photographer community. Enabling the creativity of our community sits at the very heart of Nikon and we will continue to keep improving on our innovation and our support for you.”

As FStoppers notes, Nikon fails to note which female photographers were invited to be a Nikon D850 DSLR Ambassador, a curious omission in a statement many would interpret as exculpatory in nature.

DIYPhotography spoke with female photographer Rebecca Douglas, author of an open letter to Nikon in regards to the lack of female representation in the Nikon D850 Ambassadors marketing campaign.

The letter, which recounts Douglas’ love affair with Nikon products and a showcase of work she has completed using Nikon cameras, urges Nikon to reconsider this approach to the marketing campaign and highlights what could be interpreted as sexist or gendered language in its previous marketing to women.

She writes, “Unfortunately, sometimes gender is perceived to be one of the elements that makes up a role in a profession and this was out lawed a long time ago as discriminatory. Unfortunately, this industry in some areas seems to have a bias towards one set of gender assumptions and technology.”

Douglas’ letter received a response from Nikon UK which stated “[…]female photographers were unfortunately not represented and this was completely due to circumstance and not design. At a global level, Nikon has invited four photographers to act as Ambassadors for the launch of the D850, one of which is Italian photographer, Rosita Lipari.”

Curiously, the statement from Nikon UK, a territory in which the campaign will not be a feature, included vital information omitted by the Nikon Asia response, namely an actual female photographer who was considered for and could not participate in the Ambassador’s program.

The case of the Nikon D850 product launch is a cautionary tale that reminds marketing directors the world over of the increasingly global nature of product promotions and marketing campaigns.

The need for a global, rather than local, approach means that the materials put out by the company should not only consider the local audience but also the global audience for that product as well, a tough task for any team.

Without this attention to detail, however, the task of marketing becomes even harder if your product is perceived as gender-biased and exclusionary.

These features tend to depress sales and shrink bottom lines, two things Nikon will want to avoid to remain a viable business concern.

About Author

Kehl is our staff photography news writer since 2017 and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here and follow him on Insta.

why is it that women feel that everything is about gender discrimination if they were not invited?
i wonder what if the event was full of women would they say that the event was against men?

What a load just like the article I read right before this one about gender biased in wedding photography. I’m down here in the trenches and women are kicking our butts in the wedding photography arena.
I’m sure Nikon had no intention of leaving women out as they in my experience represent a fast growing market of photographers. It’s unfortunate they didn’t anticipate that the women they did invite might be too busy making money to lend their time to this project but lets not (like every frigging thing else) turn this into a witch hunt.

How about including a DISABLED FEMALE PHOTOGRAPHER, trying to rewrite her career path after debilitating knee surgeries! Nikon could end all the discrimination discussions with me! 🙂

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