How did Photobetty come about?

The idea of Photobetty came about as I was looking for information on the Women in Photojournalism Conference, held last year in Albany, N.Y. While searching for their Web site, I kept running into porn sites when plugging "women" and "photography" into different search engines. Obviously, this was quite infuriating. So after some thought, I called my friends Candice Cusic and Heather Stone, two other photogs at the Trib, and asked them what they thought about putting together a site specifically for women in the photo business. So we bounced around ideas of what the women in our field might want in a site like this. And with the help of computer genius Rob Ray, Photobetty became a reality. After nearly a year now, searching on "women" and "photography" hasn't been bringing up red-light district it used to. Perhaps we're making a difference, or perhaps it's just that search engines are getting worse. We think that it is probably both.

Why is it in e-zine format?

I wanted the site to create a comfortable community and network for women in all areas of photography -- fine arts, digital and documentary. And as the works of these photographers are shown, I hope that women photogs in all areas will be able to find common threads and inspiring differences in relation to their own work. In the end, I hope that Photobetty opens communication between women of all skill levels and fields, possibly even establishing a network of photographers willing to help one another out or have lunch if a colleague comes to town for an assignment or for vacation. The site was launched in April at the Women in PJ Conference.

So what are the different sections about?

The first section, In the Spotlight, features the work of professional and student photographers. Not just any work, but work that motivates and means something to the photographer. To reiterate that point, we've made one of the requirements an essay in addition to the standard caption information. I am interested in the photographers telling the stories they would tell to their friends, what the project meant to them and what the shoot was like. Why did they want to do it? Who did they meet? What are their stories? I wanted this to be a primary part of the site because the experience is what being a photographer is about for me. And I think that the photographs are the physical translation of the experience.

The photographers are chosen based on the quality of their work. I was impressed with each of these projects when I saw them. I am not interested in doing any formal critiques on the projects because I can't stand it when people tell me what to think about any kind of artwork. The photos are here, and you can make up your own mind about them. All I have to say is if I put them on the site, I think they're pretty damn good.

Singles is our most recent addition. This section will hopefully make it easier for more people to submit work. I understand that there are plenty of reasons why someone wouldn't be able to submit an entire project but everyone should be able to at least contribute a single image. So I expect this section to flourish quickly.

Can guys submit work?

I am definitely interested in including work by men on the site. But I want it to be centered on female issues. This is loose. I'm thinking anywhere from the birth of a child to a fashion shoot and/or anything else in between. It will just depend on what it is.

In Charge is an idea Robin Daughtridge, chief photographer/picture editor at the Chicago Tribune, came up with. I had been trying to think of a way to include women in the business who have inspired me but weren't shooters themselves. Robin, our first victim, suggested doing a funky Q & A. I thought this was a great idea. Editors like Robin and Sonya Doctorian, Director of Photography at the St. Petersburg Times, have been very instrumental in helping me develop my personal vision. Through lengthy conversations with these women, I have grown as a photographer and as a person.

Before You highlights historical women photographers. It is important to know who the women are that paved the way for us in our field. It's also interesting to learn about what drove these women who entered the profession when it was seriously male dominated.

And what about the name?

Well for those of us who grew up around skate ramps and the like, betties were people (girls) who hung out with the skaters but didn't skate. While in college at the University of Florida, those who hung out in the photolab at our school paper, The Independent Florida Alligator, we called photobetties (guys and girls). Rob, our technical guru, is a skater and I mentioned the name almost as a joke. We both laughed and immediately agreed on Photobetty as the name for this Web site.

So that's it. I hope this meets some of the needs of the female photo community. I am super excited about getting to know all the vixens of the photo world, past and present!

Thanks!

-- Stephanie Sinclair