FOCUS: Female Perspective Agency
22 January 2021
We catch up with AOP Agent member Tabatha Fireman director of all women agency, Female Perspective. Read on to find out the inspiration behind the agency, the female gaze and future plans for a photo library shot my women.
© Nicky Sims
Tell us about your agency Female Perspective, what inspired you to set it up and what sets it apart from other agencies?
Female Perspective launched in 2019 with a clear vision to assist in redressing the gender imbalance in commercial photographer representation. As the first of its kind in the UK for many years, we have an all female talent roster. Although understandably this might not sit well with some, we believe it is the affirmative action needed to speed up the process of reaching a fairer balance. There are many arguments as to why currently so few women are represented in commercial photography, but one thing we all know for sure is that it is not due to a lack of talent to select from.
As a photographer myself for over 20 years, I know that it takes a lot of self belief and resilience to maintain confidence levels when constantly knocking on those bolted doors. According to data presented by diversity initiative Creative Equals, women are four times less likely to negotiate than men; when they do, they ask for 30% less money. Even now with social media platforms from which to blow your own trumpet, confident one on one selling (whether it be in person or online) is still required to close those deals.
At Female Perspective our top priority is to support our talent before, during and after each of the services we provide. Encouraging the correct mindset leads to a 3 way win: confident talent = confident client = confident agency.
© Scarlet Page
Can you tell us about your career path and how your experiences feed into the role of agency director?
In 1997 I left Cardiff University with a post grad in Photojournalism. Alongside my freelance photography business I began my first ‘office’ job assisting the head of EMI Record’s photographic department. I must admit I felt like the luckiest girl in the world; working among such incredibly ‘cool’ people while gaining invaluable skills such as collaborating with press officers and label managers, editing shoots and curating print exhibitions.
My next role was at Redferns Music Picture Library where I managed the diary; assigning photographers, arranging access for coverage and selecting archive edits from the content that came in. Picture research for Redferns’ clients taught me so much about what adds commercial value to an image.
Early 2003 I chose to take my chances flying solo as freelance photographer to begin building a successful business of my own. The connections I had already made allowed me to launch straight into the field of music photography, shortly after branching out to the media and entertainment sectors, shooting for both editorial and commercial clients. With a desire to grow my knowledge of controlled studio lighting, I joined the voluntary board of directors at the Beehive Studios in Camden. Setting up backdrops and lighting equipment, assisting photographers from all different backgrounds, and studio access to experiment on my own projects provided me with exactly what I was looking for.
Gifted with my first child in 2007, I soon came to realise that days away from home on photoshoots would need to be postponed for a while. A couple of years later, I welcomed the invitation from Getty Images to manage their newly owned brand ‘Redferns’. Once again feeling extremely lucky, I took back my old seat as Redferns assignment editor, working with photographers and brand, both whom were already so close to my heart. The pace at Getty was fast and furious and learning just how tight the reigns needed to be pulled to ensure that the high standards at Getty were always met was a tough but inspiring lesson for me. Before that time I quite likely would have been considered too soft to set up an agency of my own. Working amidst such a talented team of picture editors, assignment editors, sales and marketing staff, I gained a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the cogs needed to make an agency run. In addition to this, shooting as photographer on Getty assignments provided me with the good, the bad and the ugly from a photographer’s perspective too.
© Tina K
Tell us about the photographers you represent.
Love them, love them, love them! Throughout my career to date I have met and become well acquainted with so many talented women photographers. Those represented at Female Perspective were selected not just for their gold standard portfolios, but also for their experience and technical capabilities as well as their personalities, collaborative connection and enthusiasm. When I first thought about setting up Female Perspective I contacted each of those represented individually to share my vision and ask for their thoughts. As a brand new agency I felt it was really important to start with photographers who worked in the areas I was most familiar with. Our talent roster includes music, fashion and media entertainment portrait and events photographers. I feel so honoured to be representing such talented individuals and am grateful not only for their belief in and enthusiasm for Female Perspective, but also for their patience as we navigate through this pandemic.
© Gigi Umbrasaite
You talk about the female perspective being different to that of males, can you talk about how this is portrayed through the imagery of your photographers?
Very apparent examples can be found in the works of Tina K who is known for her portraits of rock and heavy metal musicians. Without conscious effort on her part, the work that she produces of such hard-edged culture, portrays her female viewpoint.
Tina K says: “I have met many artists who prefer working with women photographers. Especially female artists have commented on my post production, saying that I know what they like or dislike about them. I know it from my own experiences being a woman, which helps me to learn more about it during the shoot.”
Fashion portrait and beauty photography in general is a classic example of where imagery shot from a female perspective is likely to differ from that of a male. Models (both male and female) often feel more comfortable being photographed by a woman. I see this most clearly in the eyes and body language conveyed through the works of our photographers.
Then of course the shoot might involve a sensitive nature requiring a female photographer such as this that Hayley Madden talks about:
“A few years ago I was commissioned by The Big Issue to shoot a portrait of a young woman who had been kidnapped by her own father and sold into slavery. Forced into an unsuitable marriage and raped, she managed to escape but was campaigning to try and rescue her sister, who was abducted at the same time.”
© Julie Edwards
Are you looking to represent more female photographers and can you advise on how to go about approaching an agent?
It’s a difficult time for everyone right now with slim pickings on the work front. Due to this I’m not actively seeking more photographers to represent at the moment but always welcome being approached by email and do my very best to get back to all those who make contact.
My advice to anyone looking to approach an agent for representation is to first take some time to reflect on your working life. Ask yourself these questions: What have I done so far? What would I like to do? Who would I like to work with? What can I bring to the table? Do I have any clients I can bring with me? Do I have any testimonials from previous clients? Why do I feel that this particular agency might be the right fit for me?
Remember that this is a two-way relationship that you are proposing. Create a document to showcase some of your best work and attach it to your email as well as a link to your website. Always personalise your email. From this end it’s not very inviting to receive a generic email that has clearly been sent to numerous agents. And lastly don’t feel disheartened if your approach doesn’t lead to representation. As agents we ask ourselves the same questions to make sure that we are also the right fit for you.
© Shirlaine Forrest
What’s next for Female Perspective.
Alongside representing our photographers for commercial assignments, we are working on something else rather special right now. With a proposed launch later this year, we are currently building ShotByWomen; an image library platform for licensing content shot exclusively by women and feminine-of-centre photographers from all over the world. Running with the same ethos, and helping toward balancing gender statistics in published content, ShotByWomen will promote contributors and their content, while ensuring ongoing support is available for them at every stage to encourage engagement and growth. It’s going to be fantastic! So many talented contributors on board already. Women photographers can register their interest to find out more about becoming a ShotByWomen contributor here: https://www.female-perspective.com/female-perspective-image-library.
View Female Perspective's profile here