the empathetic badass: Women in Photography

In the competitive industry of photography, what makes an artist stand out particularly if you’re a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field?

Rena Siddall / 8 March 2019

Portrait Dani Cyr by Jay Wallace

Photo by Jordie Hennigar

Step one, be a badass. Step two, ignore any notion of glass ceilings.

Why is it that when we’re trying to describe a woman who does cool shit the most accessible adjective seems to be badass? In August 2018, InStyle Magazine’s cover feature was titled “The Badass Women Issue,” with Serena Williams looking especially fierce- despite being adorned in a sun hat. When did badass become both an admirable term and somehow related to women? Regardless, “badass” female photographers are paving the way for younger up & comers to find their niche across the field of photography. 

Photo by Dani Cyr

For portrait photographer, Dani Cyr, of Victoria, B.C. she hasn’t necessarily observed a glass ceiling within the field but she does see certain genres like her preferred concert photography as being male-dominated. Cyr is young, eager and works hard at her craft. She’s shot artists with impressive credentials like Lights and the Arkells. That said, she has experienced the condescending result of working in a field that is predominately filled by men. “Someone told me to I needed to ‘hustle harder’ because I didn’t want to do studio photography and rent out his home-studio monthly. I think we know who needs to hustle harder here though, if he’s begging people to rent out his studio,” she laughs.

A little further West in Tofino B.C., fashion photographer, Jordie Hennigar, shoots beautiful women in well, beautiful settings. Hennigar has an ongoing thread for #womenattheendoftheroad capturing the resilient females that find their way in a town that’s, quite physically, at the end of the road. She migrated towards fashion photography over the last five years because that’s where she felt most comfortable. Her models are, for lack of a more eloquent phrase, damn good-looking. Curious, I asked her whether she discovers them or they find her and how much impact she thinks she has on rousing sex appeal out of her subjects. According to Hennigar, it’s a combination of finding each other, often through mutual connections, “they find me, I find them. Most of them have never been in front of a camera before!”

Photo by Jordie Hennigar

Step three, build communities of strong, creative, likeminded women.

In a year touted for diversity in fashion mags, only 30% of Vogue’s covers were shot by women (less than 10% of Vogue Italia’s, widely considered the top fashion magazine in the world). While racial diversity and gender-inclusivity got more of a spotlight even on fashion covers this year, behind the lens, parity seemed to echo years past. Despite that, Hennigar feels the glass ceiling is breaking away for women. She says that when she first started, most models said she was the first female photographer they had worked with. Now, Hennigar says she sees plenty of women all supporting each other within the field. In her community, the local female photographers all meet- having built an incredible support network.

“There were some advantages to being a woman photographer. I think women have more empathy with the subject.” - Annie Leibovitz

Back in Victoria, Cyr also happens to firmly believe in empowering women and sees a way to do that using her photography. Her passion is concert photography but she co-founded the Women for Women event last June, with musician Lo Waight, hosted with Victoria’s 91.3 the Zone FM. It’s an event and ongoing project celebrating women in music in Canada and their stories. This project is being rebranded with a new website launching soon as Cyr believes it deserves its own platform, “I have been inspired daily by so many women. Literally daiIy. I think this project and collaboration has also taught me to be more patient… There are some people throughout the project and its debut that made nasty comments [about] it not supporting men- …as many times as I make it clear the project isn’t a stab at men, but a shine towards women; in an industry that is highly dominated by men, it doesn’t necessarily matter.”

Photo by Dani Cyr

Step four. Don’t be afraid of that which is uneasy and emotional.

Another thing both Cyr and Hennigar have in common- dramatic female role models for inspiration. Hennigar credits the day-dreamy, young, Canadian photographer Petra Collins and the erotic, Ellen von Unwerth. Cyr’s taken the iconic Annie Leibovitz’s master class, who she quotes, “there is this idea that in portraiture it is the photographers job to set the subject at ease, I don’t believe that.”

The line meets reality in both our young photographers. Cyr wants to capture honest emotion with candid shots. She has a goal to start more projects that make a statement, “do things that are unusual.” Hennigar naturally captures authenticity, in her ability to adjust to her subjects, “I allow the shoot to become what it is meant to be, patience, kindness and making a real connection with the people I work with– most who become my friends after.”

Both Cyr and Hennigar note how essential it is to them to seize emotion within their photography. And that’s where female photographers shine. Women, by nature, are more intimate and inherently relate to others. So it should come as no surprise that female photographers shape these networks, and work these angles to spotlight women- as Leibovitz points out, we’re straight up empathetic.

Step five. Refer to steps one through four.

Away from the lens, Cyr and Hennigar choose to support other female photographers and creatives. In a traditionally male-dominated industry the prevalence of women who step up and aren’t afraid to build these communities gives hope to narrow the gender gap.

And in case you were wondering, that InStyle “badass” cover with Serena Williams? It was shot by a man. Who may or not be badass- I didn’t bother to investigate. But neither Cyr nor Hennigar feel held back by any proverbial glass ceiling. If photography truly is making way for women, then these two badass up and coming photographers are undoubtedly a part of that change.

More of Jordie’s dreamy editorials can be found on or follow her on Instagram, @jordiehennigar.

Read the full interview with Jordie Hennigar here

See Dani’s contemplative portraiture in her gallery on or follow her on Instagram @danycyrcreative.

Read the full interview with Dani Cyr here.

Rena Siddall /

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on email

3,929 thoughts on “The Empathetic Badass – Women in Photography

  1. auto liker, Auto Liker, auto like, ZFN Liker, Status Liker, Auto Like, Status Auto Liker, Autolike International, Autoliker, Increase Likes, Autoliker, Autolike, Photo Auto Liker, Working Auto Liker, Photo Liker, autoliker, autolike

  2. I have been exploring for a little for any high-quality articles or weblog posts in this sort of area . Exploring in Yahoo I eventually stumbled upon this website. Reading this information So i¦m happy to convey that I have a very just right uncanny feeling I came upon exactly what I needed. I most surely will make certain to don¦t overlook this website and provides it a look on a continuing basis.

  3. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you
    wrote the book in it or something. I think that
    you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is great blog.
    An excellent read. I’ll certainly be back.

  4. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about
    this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of that,
    this is great blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

  5. Good day! I know this is kinda off topic but
    I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form?
    I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having trouble finding
    one? Thanks a lot!

  6. I have been surfing on-line greater than 3 hours lately, yet
    I never found any fascinating article like yours.
    It is beautiful worth enough for me. In my view, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will likely be a lot more useful than ever before.

  7. A formidable share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing slightly analysis on this. And he actually bought me breakfast as a result of I discovered it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! However yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I really feel strongly about it and love reading extra on this topic. If possible, as you change into expertise, would you thoughts updating your weblog with extra details? It is extremely helpful for me. Huge thumb up for this blog put up! canadian pharmacy levitra

  8. I’ll right away grab your rss as I can not in finding your email subscription hyperlink or
    e-newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please permit
    me recognize in order that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  9. I have been surfing on-line greater than three hours today, but I by no means found any fascinating article like yours. It’s beautiful price enough for me. Personally, if all website owners and bloggers made just right content material as you did, the internet shall be a lot more useful than ever before. canada pharmacy

  10. I’ve learned newer and more effective things by means of your weblog. One other thing I’d prefer to say is always that newer pc os’s have a tendency to allow much more memory to get used, but they as well demand more ram simply to function. If your computer can’t handle much more memory and also the newest software requires that memory increase, it is usually the time to buy a new Computer system. Thanks