Nikon fails women worldwide with the launch of the D850

Anne JohnstonPhotography tips and inspirationLeave a Comment

The photography community waited with baited breath for the launch of Nikon’s new camera, the D850. It got people talking and made headlines left, right and centre, but not in the way that Nikon expected. For it wasn’t so much the specs of the new camera but the complete absence of female photographers in the campaign that hit the headlines. But was it a case of sexism or was it a huge marketing fail?


Nikon launches the D850

With the launch of the D850, Nikon enlisted the help of 32 photographers from Asia, the Middle East and Africa to test it and share their experiences on their website.

They are all men.

Yip, you read that correctly. Zero women. Zilch. Nada. None. Out of 32!

It all started to go wrong when Nikon Asia announced its new camera to the world.

People around the world showed Nikon what they thought of its campaign.

Here’s a small sample of the articles that have been published since Nikon announced the D850 highlighting the issue of the lack of women in the campaign:


Now I’m not on a Nikon-hating crusade because I shoot on Canon and I’m female. I teach beginner photographers on various brands, most commonly Canon, Nikon and Sony. They all have different user interfaces and I’m all for using what works best for you. But in this case I think Nikon is way off the mark.

We live in a world where there is a fight for equality. Yip, that’s a fight for everyone to be treated equally regardless of your gender, race or sexuality. Because if there’s one thing that brings us all together, it’s this. We’re all human. Wherever we live in the world.

I don’t have the stats on how many female photographers there are versus men but I see every day the awesome work that both men and women are doing in the photography industry and surely we all have a right to be represented.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I realise that we also live in world where we have the right to express our opinions and I respect that. I asked people both on my personal Facebook profile and on my business Facebook page for their thoughts.

There were opinions on both sides of the fence. People questioned whether the top 32 photographers up for consideration were all men and why the women invited didn’t turn up.

I particularly like Julie Christie and Ross Coverdale’s comments:



Nikon responds to the backlash

Nikon Asia tweeted a response saying that the female photographers they’d invited to the photographers’ meet were unable to attend.

Talk about a lousy excuse. I wonder how many women were invited to the meet up. Seriously, they couldn’t get one woman? Are we meant to believe this? Did they actually fail to secure any women attending this event or are they now trying to back-paddle and limit the reputational damage? Even if we’re to believe that they did invite female photographers, if none were able to attend is it sill ok to launch a marketing campaign excluding women when women clearly are part of their market? Stop making excuses, Nikon! It’s not right and you know it!

One thing is for sure, they’ve already disappointed too many female photographers all over the world. How many of these are Nikon photographers that will now look to switch brands? How many photographers, regardless of gender, considering Nikon as their next purchase will now look elsewhere? Time will tell.

I contacted Nikon to find out the names of the female photographers that were invited and why they didn’t attend. I hadn’t received a response at the time of publishing this blog but in reply to Digital Photography Review’s article Nikon sent the following statement:

“At Nikon, we champion all passionate photographers. Women are an integral part of the photography community and we are dedicated to celebrating any talented storyteller and their work. We appreciate you raising this concern and we will continue to support the immense creative talent of female photographers in the US and globally.”

Personally I feel as though Nikon has failed the photography community by failing to use female ambassadors in Nikon Asia’s campaign. Brands of all sizes should be leading the way and showing the world that we stand together.

Yes, Nikon do have female ambassadors too and will be using them in future campaigns but the damage has already been done. Nikon has a worldwide audience of both genders and to look over this is pure stupidity. It could be cultural differences to blame, and I appreciate that in the UK we are further ahead than Asia when it comes to gender equality, but it’s not good enough. It will be interesting to see how Nikon deals with this going forward.


Let’s shine a light on female photographers

Nikon Asia couldn’t find one female photographer to attend a meetup to market its new camera for whatever reason or excuse. Together we can take a stand and show them that we live in a world where we all deserve to be treated and represented equally.

I have a small combined social media following of 10,000 and through the help of my Facebook community very quickly managed to find way more than 32 brilliant female photographers.

Thank you to everyone for getting involved and sharing your favourite female photographers. The amount of talent out there is incredible and I’m sure this list will continue to grow. I seriously recommend you check these fabulous ladies out and get involved in the conversation.

Here’s a few female photographers that I personally admire and I encourage you to feast your eyes on their work:

I call on all of my fellow photographers to use your blogs and social media channels to help shine the light on all the fantastic female photographers doing amazing things in the photography industry.

As for Nikon, come on! You need to get with the times. The world is watching and this time it’s not for your next camera release.

Over to you

Do you think that Nikon was wrong not to use women for this campaign? Should it do more to be more representative of its market with its campaigns? Jump into the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Update on 19th September 2017: I received the following response from Nikon UK and Ireland today:

“At Nikon, both globally and here in the UK, we champion all passionate photographers regardless of gender. As a brand, we continue to be dedicated to celebrating the talent of the community in as many ways as possible. We appreciate your feedback, and moving forward, we will continue to do more to support the creative talent of our female photographer community. With regards to the female photographers who were invited to Nikon Asia’s meet-up – out of respect for their privacy, we are not able to share their names”.