Research equality in photography

Equality can be seen in photography as a topic or subject about equality, leaders and pioneers of equality issues.

Photography can be used as a tool to highlight equality, inequality and discrimination, a means to represent the justice or injustice that exists in the world. Photography can be used to make a statement, to provoke the viewer to question their own values or the values of others. Their ethics, principles, morals to bring about change and equality.

Subjects of equality can include:

  • Gender equality between male, female or transgender
  • Sexuality heterosexual, homosexual
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Religion, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist
  • Wealth rich or poor
  • Politics, democracy and freedom of speech or dictatorship
  • Social and welfare, friends or friendless, homeless, large or small house
  • Age young and old
  • Technology Has the latest gadgets, cameras, computers and internet to people that have none
  • Health and disability

Equality is about giving everyone an equal and fair opportunity, not to shun or hide things that make one uncomfortable, the ability to celebrate and enjoy our differences, but not at the expense of another. Equality offers inclusion not exclusion, but gives the individual the freedom to choose.

The wide spread carrying of mobile phones with cameras is having a social impact on equality. When people behave that someone disagrees with there is now nearly always someone around with a mobile phone that can record acts of inequality or discrimination.



Equality great leaders and social reformers


Figure 1 Martin Luther King by Jack Lewis Hiller. Geltin Silver print 1960

NPG x128760; Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela by Jillian Edelstein

Figure 2 Nelson Mandela 1997 bromide fibre print by Jillian Edelstein

NPG x194159; Emmeline Pankhurst by Underwood & Underwood

Figure 3 Emmeline Pankhurst by Underwood & Underwood. 1910


Images of Inequality


Figure 4 Nazi book burning in Germany during WWII


Figure 5 American Race Riots, Arrest


Equality of age


Equality of ages includes images of all ages, babies, infants, children to the youth of teens and twenty somethings of the stereotypical beautiful age of models. Equality in age continues to the more mature right through to the old and elderly. All make interesting subjects for different reasons.


The very young for their innocence, the child for their energy, the radiance of youth and their eagerness to experience. The experience and wisdom of age that has developed character that shows on the face and body.


Equality of Gender and sexuality


Women have figured heavily as subjects in photographs, models for the fashion industry that has a high commercial turnover. Women also are subjects for artistic nude photographs to glamour and the pornography industry.

The high use of women as model subjects may stem from the historical high number of male photographers wanting subjects to photograph, to emulate the classic visual arts of painting where women frequently appear as the subject of art.

The male image in photography is more frequently portrayed at work or the subject of a portrait, less often for their artistic beauty.

In more recent and liberal times since the 1960s there are more photographs of outwardly homosexual people and couples. Transgender and transvestites are increasingly been included as interesting subjects by photographers.

Equality of social and welfare


A popular subject from the early days of photography. Some photographs were not intentionally taken to highlight social standing or welfare, but the volume of photographs has built a social profile of society and places.   The early photographers in their studios took photographers typically of the middle classes that showed the fashions, and family status. There were photographers that took their cameras out to the streets to record the housing, living conditions of the less fortunate at home and at work. The well to do would commission photographers to record their big houses, sometimes the staff and their prize possessions.


Equality in politics, democracy and freedom of speech or dictatorship


Everyone has the right to follow their political views as long as they do not become extreme and result in restricting others from freedom of speech, to express themselves and result in a dictatorship. Photography has recorded powerfully times when this goes wrong such as the race riots of America in the 1960s and the acts of persecution by Ku Klux Klan, the shocking scenes after World War 2 when concentration camps were liberated. The more recent photographs that show the results of acts of hatred and terrorism and wars. Photojournalists have recorded impartial whilst telling the accurate representation of events.



Examples of equality in photography


Sally Mann contemporary photographer famous for taking many photographs of her young family used old photographic technology, large format plate camera, creating gelatin silver prints. The photograph of Candy cigarette shows a young girl emulating an adult smoking.


Candy Cigarette, 1989 by Sally Mann



Katy Grannan photographer that takes photographs of everyday people, young and old, not the stereotypical ‘beautiful models’. The photograph of Nicky, (U.S.M.C.) Presidio. Is one of several photographs that Grannan took of Nicky a transsexual who served as a United States Marine Corps soldier when she was a man. The subject of Nicky shows an equality of sexuality.


Figure 6 Nicky, (U.S.M.C.) Presidio. 2005 by Katy Grannan


Anonymous, Los Angeles, Boulevard 11 (2011) Anonymous, San Francisco, Boulevard 15 (2010)

Anonymous, San Francisco, Boulevard 15 (2010) by Katy Grannan



Grannan takes photographs of people that are not celebrities or politicians, but members of the public that agree to have their photograph taken usually against white wall backgrounds so that the viewer focuses on the subject of the person. There is a sense of equality how all the people are photographed, young or old, rich or poor, man or women.


Steve McCurry a photographer famous for high quality photographs that have been published in the National Geographic of ethnic people that are in their own surroundings. The lighting and colour show their interesting craggy wrinkled faces and beautiful faces. They also are a record of social ethnicity of people living their lives wearing their clothes and jewellery


Figure 7 Universal Language, Loikaw, Burma/Mayanmar


Figure 8 Portraits Peshawar, Pakistan by Steve McCurry


Figure 9 Last Roll of Kodachrome Rajasthan, India by Steve McCurry



Diane Arbus, photographer of people who are usually shunned to the edge of society, transgender with disabilities or deformities, not thee accepted ‘beautiful’ people. Arbus’ photographs show an equality in that these subjects are interesting and proud and have just as much right for the attention of the viewer. In fact the photographs allow the viewer to look and gaze longer than normal social convention would allow to fully appreciate the person in the photograph.


Figure 10 Masked woman in a wheelchair, PA, 1970


Figure 11 A Young Man in Curlers at Home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C. 1966



Robert Mapplethorpe


Photographs that break the tradition of male female stereotypes and sexuality and inter-racial relationships


Figure 12 Two men Dancing, Robert Mapplethorpe




Figure 14 Johnny Vegas as Demi Moore 2006 by Karl J. Kaul


Karl J Kaul’s photograph of Johnny Vegas has him pose nude in a comical take on the nude photograph taken of Demi Moore when she was pregnant.


Philippe Bazin A photographer that focuses on portraits of the very young and old and in-between.


Figure 15 Nés, 1998-1999 by Philippe Bazin


Figure 16 Faces (vieillards), 1985-1986 by Philippe Bazin


Jaskirt Dhaliwal a female documentary photographer specialising in portraiture. Dhaliwal records stories of individuals and groups of people, how and why they behave the way they do sports and what drives them through photography.



Figure 17 Ladies football team by Jaskirt Dhaliwal




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s