PhotoPlus Seminar Recap: Photography Directors at Major Publications Discuss Hiring Photographers

PhotoPlus Seminar Recap: Photography Directors at Major Publications Discuss Hiring Photographers

Directors of photography from Bloomberg Businessweek, The California Sunday Magazine, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Refinery29 and Topic spoke about the hiring practices of their publications during a seminar at PhotoPlus Expo over the weekend, and also discussed the qualities they look for in the freelance photographers they hire.

Moderated by Businessweek Director of Photography Clinton Cargill, “What Photo Editors Want Now” gave photographers in the audience insights into the photography needs of several publications and information that could help them in seeking editorial assignments.

The issue of gender and racial diversity in the photography industry was raised by an audience member during the question and answer period, and there was a consensus among editors that they need to “do better” in hiring photographers with a range of perspectives. But they also shared some of the positive steps they’ve taken to that end. For instance, Jacqueline Bates, the Photography Director of The California Sunday Magazine, which has received the National Magazine Award for Photography for two consecutive years, pointed out that women had shot all of the magazine’s covers in 2017 (their last issue for the year had gone to press at the time of the talk). This wasn’t coincidence. Bates said she’d made it a “personal goal” to have women photographers’ images on the cover of every issue this year.

Toby Kaufman, the Photography Director of Refinery 29, said that it was “paramount to me” that her organization hire women, and that they do a quarterly check-in to gauge their progress. As of their latest assessment, women were responsible for 76 percent of the photography published in Refinery29 this year, Kaufman said. Earlier Kaufman revealed that Refinery29 gives roughly 600 assignments per year, and that one of the magazine’s overall missions is to “embrace women of all shapes and sizes.” Kaufman also mentioned that Refinery29 has partnered with Getty Images to create a capsule collection of stock photography that reflects that vision. They’re accepting submissions for that capsule collection, Kaufman said, which can be “a good way” for photographers to get into working with the publication.

Joanna Milter, the Photography Director at The New Yorker, outlined her magazine’s photography needs in print, which are limited, but she said she has space to run more images online. The New Yorker runs one full-page image to open their “Goings on About Town” section of local events in New York City; they generally run one photo with each story in the feature well; 47 times a year they publish a conceptual photo or illustration to open a short fiction story; and they have a chance roughly five times a year to publish a photo essay in print, Milter said.

Caroline Smith, the photography and visuals editor at Topic, a long-form storytelling site created by the publisher of The Intercept, says she’s publishing photographs, video and illustrations. Smith is particularly interested in combining stills and motion in the same story, and shared a couple of recent examples, including a story shot by Juno Calypso about women freezing their eggs. Topic follows a monthly publishing cadence, like a magazine, Smith says, rather than publishing new content each day. And Topic is interested in receiving pitches from photographers. She wants pitches that are “succinct and pointed” she said, that have a strong point of view, and that are well-researched.

Rolling Stone’s Ahmed Fakhr said he’s often looking for festival coverage and wants to hire photographers who can also shoot video, even if the still images remain the focus of assignments. (For more from Fakhr, see our in-depth interview with him from the October issue of PDN.)

Bates said that the imagery in The California Sunday Magazine, whose stories focus on California and the West, and Asia and Latin America, is generally about people and the places around them, so little to none of their photography is shot in a studio. Bates says it’s important to her to meet with photographers, and likes to hire photographers who are local to an assignment because their familiarity with a place can elevate a story.

The panelists gave examples of the qualities they look for in the photographers they hire. Kaufman said she likes “a collaborative spirit,” a sense of maturity and an “ability to problem solve.” Flexibility and a desire to learn in-depth about the subjects they’re photographing appeal to Bates. Milter said she also appreciates photographers who do their research, while Fakhr emphasized the importance of organization in delivering images and a respect for deadlines. Cargill appreciates a “strong sense of curiosity” and says he also notices when a photographer over-delivers. For instance, if they’re photographing a portrait subject, Cargill appreciates when photographers make other pictures they see during the assignment, or when they work to deliver additional setups.

The panel spoke about what photographers should do when reaching out to introduce themselves. Cold calling is not a good idea. Personalized email does well, and, as we hear constantly from photo editors, photographers would do well to show that they have some knowledge of the publication they’re targeting and why their style might be a fit. Editors still receive too many cold emails from photographers whose visual language doesn’t make sense for their publications. Kaufman asked that photographers appreciate that editors are under pressure and can’t respond to every email, even to say “no, thank you.” She encouraged photographers to reach out when they have new work. And Cargill said it never hurts to send emails alerting editors when you’re traveling in case they have a photo need. Bates said that if you meet with a photo editor and don’t immediately hear from them, it doesn’t mean they aren’t going to hire you. It can sometimes take a year or more for an editor to find the right project, she said.

All of the panelists said that they try to hire photographers locally rather than paying for travel. To that end, geotagging some of one’s Instagram posts can be useful because it allows editors to see where a photographer lives or travels frequently. Panelists said they use Instagram as a tool for tracking what photographers are working on and to find new talent. One panelist mentioned using topic-based hashtags to find photographers.

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PhotoPlus Seminar Report: Building a Following in the Age of Distraction




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PhotoPlus Seminar Recap: Photography Directors at Major Publications Discuss Hiring Photographers

Tuesday Tip: How to Learn What They Don’t Teach You in Photo School

Tuesday Tip: How to Learn What They Don’t Teach You in Photo School

Before she launched her own career, fashion and beauty photographer Kat Borchart spent five years as post-production supervisor for fashion photographer Dewey Nicks. “It was a huge game changer,” she says. “I got to see everything about what being a photographer is: promotions, treatments, pitches, managing the archive.” She adds, “When I went on set I absorbed everything I could.” She paid close attention to how Nicks worked with clients, handled talent on set, and directed crew. “He shot a lot of celebrities. I saw how he gave them inspiration and direction,” Borchart says. “I also saw the importance of great hair styling and makeup, and [choosing] great locations.”

A year after she started working for Nicks, Borchart started doing her own test shoots on the side, applying the things she was learning from Nicks. That enabled her to build a portfolio that eventually led to her first assignments.

See “How Kat Borchart Built a Career in Fashion and Beauty Photography

From Producer to Photographer: How Christin Rose Made the Transition

How Frances F. Denny Made the Jump from Assistant to Fine Art and Ad Photographer

Advice from the Trenches for Graduating Photography Students

9 Tips for Getting Hired (and Re-Hired) as a Photographer’s Assistant

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Tuesday Tip: How to Learn What They Don’t Teach You in Photo School

What Photographers Need to Know About Computational Photography

What Photographers Need to Know About Computational Photography

What do you think of when you think of computational photography?

Wikipedia defines it as “digital image capture and processing techniques that use digital computation instead of optical processes. Computational photography can improve the capabilities of a camera, or introduce features that were not possible at all with film based photography, or reduce the cost or size of camera elements.”

In a panel at PhotoPlus Expo, several experts explored scenarios for what computational photography will mean for creative professionals. The short answer: more immersive virtual reality, smaller and lighter cameras that nonetheless perform as well if not better than DSLRs and the embedding of more information inside images to enable augmented reality experiences.

For photographers, computational photography creates some cognitive dissonance, according to Allen Murabayashi, co-founder of PhotoShelter. “You no longer have to get it right in camera” because the camera is increasingly smart enough to get it right for you. But that doesn’t mean that all of photography is on a glide-path toward a utopian future.

The central question photographers face is whether they can “transcend the novelty of these [technologies] to best leverage these features for storytelling,” Murabayashi said.

Jim Malcom, General Manager of Humaneyes North America (makers of the Vuze Camera), was very bullish that VR creators can do just that.

“People don’t know what they want until they experience it,” he said. With VR, creators now have a “fourth screen” — a VR headset–to create content for. There are 15 million headsets in circulation now, he added, and the market for VR content is already valued in the billions of dollars. While computation will enable VR cameras to capture increasingly more realistic footage (by, among other things, faster stitching of stereoscopic content), it’s up to artists to experiment with the format, he said.

Don’t Miss: Vuze Virtual Reality Camera Review

Rajiv Laroi, co-founder of Light, made the most sweeping prediction. In the coming years, computational photography “will be the norm” and DSLRs will be like film cameras are today: a small audience will still use them, but most photographers will have moved on.

“It’s like when flat panel TVs came out, there was no longer a reason to buy a CRT,” he said.

The L16, Light’s first product, is the poster-child for computational photography. It combines 16 cameras into a single, relatively compact body while still producing huge RAW files (up to 160MB at a pop) with light-field capabilities to alter focus points and depth of field after an image has been captured.

Camera companies need to start viewing their products as “computers with sensors” or they’ll be in dire risk of being left behind by the world of computational photography, Murabayashi added.

For Steve Medina, Producment Manager at the augmented reality company Avegant, the promise of computational photography lies in the ability to blend in real-world information with photographic objects. “Augmented reality doesn’t replace photography, it adds context and information,” he said. As an example he cited a movie poster with characters that would “come alive” when you pointed a phone at them.

Computational photography doesn’t simply mean totally novel experiences, either. It also means adding information to photographic and video metadata that wasn’t available to earlier cameras. In a previous job at GoPro, Medina was working on technology to feed the camera information like a user’s heart rate, acceleration, height and orientation from external Bluetooth sensors. This information could then be used by the camera or by desktop editing software for cutting the video. “Maybe you want to focus only on moments when the filmmakers heart rate was high or when they were moving rapidly,” he said.

For pro photographers looking to navigate these emerging technologies, Murabayshi’s advice was simple: look to differentiate yourself by knowing “which technologies to use to tell which stories,” he said. And don’t think of yourself as an artist, but “as a service provider of visual communications.”

Don’t Miss: How Photography Is Changing in the Era of Machine Learning

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What Photographers Need to Know About Computational Photography

PhotoPlus Expo Report: PDN’s 30 Photographers on the Importance of Relationships

PhotoPlus Expo Report: PDN’s 30 Photographers on the Importance of Relationships

At “PDN’s 30: Strategies for Launching and Building a Career in Today’s Market,” a seminar at Photo Plus Expo,  PDN’s 30 2017 photographers Cait Oppermann, Christina Holmes and Sasha Arutyunova, and Sony Artisan Christopher Lynch, spoke about how they launched and sustained their careers. Also on the panel was Bloomberg Businessweek deputy photo director Aeriel Brown, who added the perspective of someone who hires new and emerging photographers.

One theme that ran through their stories was the importance of building and sustaining personal relationships. For Arutyunova, that practice started when she was a student at NYU, and collaborated with people outside the photo world, including artists and musicians studying in her program. When she graduated, those relationships led to casual jobs shooting music videos for bands and headshots for actors, and a wealth of experience. She and fellow artists met for monthly critiques and organized exhibitions.  The connections also provided a support network of peers, who encouraged Arutyunova to show her book of portraits and personal work to photo editors a few years later. One of her first meetings was with a New York Times editor she knew.

For Cait Oppermann, assisting a handful of photographers before launching her professional career taught her technical skills. She said it was important to work with photographers she clicked with, and who were generous with their knowledge rather than protective of their trade secrets. During a long flight home from an assignment with photographer Thomas Prior, he gave her valuable business advice. She notes that the industry is small. That makes it easy to get to know people and get referrals. It also means that if you’re talking about a client or crew member at a bar, you have no idea who they might repeat your complaints to.

Christina Holmes also found assisting to be a useful way to build relationships. Assisting, she says, “gives you the opportunity to reach out to people you like,” by offering your services. Holmes spent several years as an assistant and then as a digital tech, and says she has kept up relationships with photographers she worked for and admires. As she’s moved into editorial and advertising assignments, she still considers these considers these mentors, who continue to offer critiques of her work, “which I much respect,” she says.

Christopher Lynch points out the importance of online relationships, which he builds through Facebook, LinkedIn and other networking groups, where he often comes into contact with potential clients. Lynch says although he considers many of his clients friends, he understands that “I’m not necessarily the first person on their minds” when thinking about a job. “That person is that last person to reach out to them,” he says, which means that Lynch makes sure to invest in outreach along with building his network.

Aeriel Brown showed assignments work shot by photographers who had established relationships with the magazine, and demonstrated that they are collaborative. She depends on the photographers she hires to deliver the specific images she needs, while at the same time trusting them to go beyond the brief they’re given to make even better pictures. With layers of editors above her who depend on Brown to get the photos they need, “I might be reluctant to hire someone who was not collaborative,” she says.

As these photographers attest, at the heart of their successful careers are the relationships they’ve maintained with clients, mentors and helpful peers.

—Rebecca Robertson

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PDN’s 30 2017


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PhotoPlus Expo Report: PDN’s 30 Photographers on the Importance of Relationships

PhotoPlus Seminar Report: Building a Following in the Age of Distraction

PhotoPlus Seminar Report: Building a Following in the Age of Distraction

Getting the attention of clients annoyed by phone calls, emails and pitches is a big challenge. In his seminar titled “Building Audience in the Age of Distraction,” PhotoShelter CEO Andrew Fingerman explained why those old methods of self-promotion no longer work, and what photographers should do instead.

“Stop selling now. Start building an audience [on social media] that will stick around and care about your content,” he said, during his talk at PhotoPlus Expo 2017.

Fingerman explained that clients see themselves as “crazy busy,” partly because their attention is so diverted by Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms that have all of us checking our smartphones an average of 47 times per day.

Clients no longer answer their phones. They don’t have time to read emails, and feel productive when they delete unread mail. “They don’t want to be pitched to,” Fingerman says. “Nobody wants the sales call that interrupts their day, but they’re OK interrupting themselves” multiple times a day to check social media. “They have time for a self-guided journey into the content platform of their choice.”

He noted, “This presents an opportunity” for photographers who can build audience on social media. That way, all of those social-media addicted clients can find you in their own time, when they need and want you.

He proceeded to offer tips and advice for building those audiences. He emphasized the importance of building a “really big” audience—in the thousands of followers, and not just the people you think of as your potential clients. “Your clients are a small subset of all who care about your content.” And you never know who in your audience might end up calling you with work.

“Content is secret weapon number 1—the thing that feeds the beast” and attracts followers, he said. Social media platforms use algorithms that privilege whatever content keeps people engaged the longest: photos, and even more so, videos. But your content has to be unique, Fingerman said. “Think about your brand and be your most authentic self. [That’s] what endears people to you.”

Building that brand with content that defines and reflects who you are is easier said than done. Photographers have to figure out what it is about them—and their work—that stands out. An exercise Fingerman suggested was to make a Venn diagram of two or three circles that represent your deepest interests. At the intersection of those circles is a “sweet spot” that will help you define your brand and the content you should be producing, he said.

He gave several examples. Donald Miralle’s “sweet spot” is the intersection of his interests in photography, sports and unique perspectives. Amy Lombard’s is the intersection of photography, eccentric people and pets, and powerful speedlights.

Other questions to help you define your brand as a photographer are: What do you have unique access to? What are you an expert at? “Your goal is to become an expert,” Fingerman said. “When you’re an expert, people seek you out.”

The next step, Fingerman said, is to “start sharing [content].” Figure out who cares about your content and where to find them, he advised. They might be nonprofits, Facebook groups or other groups that share your interests and will therefore be a source of followers.

“Personal projects…build audience for photographers,” he said, adding: “Share the work you want more of.” It’s going to be the work you’re best at, and the work that clients are more likely to remember you for” because they “like to put [photographers] in buckets”—categories defined by subject matter and photographic style.

“Tell the stories behind your images” because that engages people and makes them want to follow you, Fingerman said. He cited the example of Pete Souza, former White House photographer, who has built a large following by posting and telling stories about images of Barack Obama’s presidency. “You don’t have to be Pete Souza, but your audience will appreciate how you got that shot,” he said.

Ultimately, audiences are also built on “trust and credibility,” he said. Photographers achieve both by consistently posting authentic, high-quality content, he said. He also advised photographers to lead their social media followers to “no dead ends, anywhere. Think about where people find you, and where they go from there,” he explained. “If your Instagram profile doesn’t have a link so people can find you elsewhere [eg, at your website], they’re just engaging you on Instagram. Pull them deeper.”

Fingerman said photographers should consider all the opportunities they have to engage audience—“touch points”—not only through their social media, but through their websites, live events, directories, newsletters, invoices, proposals and estimates, and how they conduct themselves on set. “Come up with ideas for how to tweak your presence in ways that are consistent with your brand—in ways client will appreciate and want to work with you again,” Fingerman said.

—David Walker

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PhotoPlus Seminar Report: Building a Following in the Age of Distraction

Thursday Tip: How to Get Celebrity Publicists to Say Yes

Thursday Tip: How to Get Celebrity Publicists to Say Yes

Celebrity publicists are often quick to reject good portrait ideas from photographers and photo editors. They’re afraid photographers will make their clients look bad. But Greg Garry, photo editor for OUT magazine, has strategies for getting around their caution.

“One of my secret weapons is I usually present my favorite idea second,” he says. “You [present] the most outlandish one first so they can say no immediately, and then you say, ‘OK, well how about this,’ and you’ll have the actual idea you want to do.”

Another solution is to get the celebrity on board with the shoot, and essentially bypass the publicist. “Most of the time the celebrity is into whatever you want to do. They want to make an interesting, creative picture too.”

See “Photo Editors’ Tips on How to Photograph Celebrities” (subscription required)

How Celebrity Portrait Photographers Beat the Clock
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Video Pick: Chris Buck and Jimmy Fallon Get Surprise on Shoot for Variety

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Thursday Tip: How to Get Celebrity Publicists to Say Yes

Getty Images Announces Instagram Grant Winners

Getty Images Announces Instagram Grant Winners

Getty Images and Instagram have awarded $10,000 grants to three emerging photographers who use the social media platform to share stories of underrepresented communities:

Nina Robinson (@arkansasfamilyalbum) photographers her family and their community in rural Arkansas.

Saumya Khandelwal’s (@khandelwal_saumya) images follow the daily lives of young girls in Uttar Pradesh, India who are forced into early marriages.

Isadora Kosofsky (@isadorakosofsky) has explored social issues in America, including the impact of substance abuse, poverty, mental health and mass incarceration on American families.

The grants are provided to help photographers pay for expenses for the production of new work. The judges for the grant were photojournalist Adriana Zehbrauskas (a previous winner of the grant); artist Eleanor MacNair; Nicolas Jimenez, director of photography at Le Monde; filmmaker and photographer Jeff Frost; and Azu Nwagbogu, director of the Lagos Photo Festival. Entrants were nominated by photo editors and art directors throughout the photo industry.

Work by the winners will be exhibited at the Getty Images gallery in London, and promoted through Getty Images’ website and social media channels,

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Getty Images Announces Instagram Grant Winners (2016)


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Getty Images Announces Instagram Grant Winners

Getty Announces $40,000 Bursary for Emerging Photographers

Getty Announces ,000 Bursary for Emerging Photographers

Getty Images has announced the creation of the Getty Images Creative Bursary for photographers who are under 30 years of age or have been working for three years or less. Getty plans to give $10,000 per quarter to help emerging photographers fund “dream projects,” the agency said in an announcement last week. Each quarter, a panel of judges will choose three photographers, splitting the $10,000 among them: $5,000 for first place; $3,500 for second place; and $2,000 for third.

“This new Bursary is a dream project of ours,” said Getty Images Senior Vice President of Creative Content Andy Saunders. “We are committed to supporting and fostering photographic talent, and are looking forward to working with a diverse group of young and emerging photographers, helping to enable their creative vision.”

Photographers who are thinking about applying should be sure to read the fine print. The terms of the bursary stipulate, among other things, that photographers who accept the funding “agree to grant Getty Images a worldwide, royalty free, perpetual license to render the project available for license on its platforms.”

The application period is open now through the end of December for the first bursary. Applicants are being asked to submit a project proposal and visual brief, and are encouraged to submit ideas in any genre of photography, from conceptual fine-art to traditional stock.

Judges for the first round of funding will include Saunders, Flak Photo’s Andy Adams, fashion editor and stylist Jeanie Annan-Lewin, Diversity Photo co-founder Andrea Wise, and fellow Diversity Photo co-founder and photo editor of ESPN’s The Undefeated, Brent Lewis.

The Getty Images Creative Bursary is part of the wider Getty Images Grants initiative that includes the Editorial Grant, Chris Hondros Fund Award, Emerging Talent Award and Instagram Grant.

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Getty Announces ,000 Bursary for Emerging Photographers

Photog Terry Richardson Banned by Conde Nast, According to Leaked Email

Photog Terry Richardson Banned by Conde Nast, According to Leaked Email

Conde Nast magazines have blacklisted photographer Terry Richardson because of numerous allegations he sexually assaulted and harassed models and stylists, according to a report in The Telegraph. The newspaper reports that an email circulated to Conde Nast magazines says the publishing company “would like to no longer work with the photographer.” In addition, any shoots planned with Richardson or any unpublished stories he shot should be “killed or substituted with other material.”

The email, signed by James Woolhouse, Conde Nast executive vice president and CEO, is reported to have been sent out Monday October 22, one day after The Sunday Times of London published a story asking why Richardson, who has never been charged with a crime but has been accused many times of sexual assault, is “still feted by fashionistas.” The story called Richardson “the Harvey Weinstein of fashion.”

Numerous models have said that Richardson exposed himself to them, forced them to perform fellatio and abused them in other ways. (See PDN‘s 2014 story on the allegations, and calls on his clients to stop working with him). In 2014, model Charlotte Waters published a graphic account of being mistreated by Richardson, and other models said he would ask for sexual favors during casting calls. Claims by Waters and others lead to calls for Richardson’s clients to stop working with him. But the following year, his images appeared on the covers of Harper’s Bazaar.

In 2010, model Rie Rasmussen said Richardson’s victims feared retribution. “They are too afraid to say no because their agency booked them on the job and are too young to stand up for themselves.”

Richardson’s clients have included Conde Nast’s Vogue and GQ, Hearst’s Harper’s Bazaar, as well as Vice, Purple, i-D, H&M, Equinox and other commercial and editorial clients.

Related Articles:

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How Should Clients React to Sexual Coercion Allegations Against Terry Richardson?





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Photog Terry Richardson Banned by Conde Nast, According to Leaked Email

What We’re Liking: Women Photograph’s “Week in Pictures Gender Breakdown”

What We’re Liking: Women Photograph’s “Week in Pictures Gender Breakdown”

Women Photograph, the online database of women photographers around the world created by photographer Daniella Zalcman, is posting weekly Twitter threads to keep the gender disparity in photojournalism top of mind.

The “Week in Pictures Gender Breakdown,” as the threads are titled, tally how many of the images used in the “week in pictures” features of major media outlets are made by women. The decidedly sarcastic and scolding tone reads a bit like tragicomedy.


This past week, three of the six major media outlets reviewed by Women Photograph didn’t publish a single image by a woman in their “week in pictures” slideshows. The Atlantic was the most balanced, with a meager eight of 35 images in their slideshow made by women.


Though this survey is limited to news photography, the posts offer a useful reminder of the photo industry’s entrenched gender imbalance. Of the 136 images published by six media outlets in their recent “week in pictures” slideshows, just 11 were by women, or roughly 8 percent.


Women Photograph also just published a quarterly analysis of the A1 featured image bylines. It looks at how many of the lead photos published in the first three quarters of 2017 by eight newspapers around the world were shot by women. It’s worth reading and sharing.

Zalcman tweeted about the results, “Continuing to accept a status quo where men are considered our primary storytellers means we accept that women’s voices do not matter.”

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What We’re Liking: Women Photograph’s “Week in Pictures Gender Breakdown”