New Zealand D-Photo
Assignment | Melissa Nickerson
Oregon-born, Auckland-based photographer Melissa Nickerson is fighting back against prejudice and negativity with an empowering series of personal portraits
Commercial photography has a gender problem. Despite the gender ratio of professional photographers being about equal, and female-identifying photography students clocking in at 75 per cent, it is estimated that only about 15 per cent of advertising imagery is shot by women.
It is a global situation that many across the world are trying to address but perhaps none so creatively and powerfully as a group of female commercial photographers here in Aotearoa. Women’s Work is a collective, established by Auckland photographer Victoria Baldwin in 2019 — see D-Photo
Issue No. 96 for an in-depth interview — to shine a light on this large gender imbalance while promoting the work of Aotearoa’s many accomplished female commercial photographers.
Auckland-based Melissa Nickerson is one photographer involved in the collective. Having worked in the commercial realm for six years, Melissa contributed to the inaugural Women’s Work exhibition held on International Women’s Day in 2020, and again on the same day this year. She says the project has really transformed the way that she relates to other females in the field.
“They were all my competition,” she explains. “I knew these women because I had gone up against them to get a job or I really admire their work and I find them super intimidating. But after working together on Women’s Work, and having open conversations, supporting each other, offering help and advice, you stop seeing each other as competition and start seeing each other as comrades.”