What’s in a lens? “It’s about representing the nuance of the female gaze,” explains Pam Grossman, director of visual trends at Getty Images. In the current feminist moment, people are paying more attention to women working behind the scenes in film, media and photography—and how women’s influence ultimately affects these industries.

Wonder Woman made headlines for taking $103.1 million in its debut weekend in the United States alone. It was trailblazing not only for being the first DC/Marvel superhero film to feature a female protagonist (following 19 male-led films since the movie franchise launched in 2008), but also because its director, Patty Jenkins, is one of only three women to direct a live-action film with a budget of over $100 million.

The success of Wonder Woman sparked discussion about the need for more female directors, writers and producers. Fans and critics widely recognized how a woman behind the lens affected important choices and nuances in the movie that were central to its triumph.

Wonder Woman

“A female director will most likely shoot the same scene in an entirely different way and with a different perspective—one that takes into account female ambition, desire, fantasy, agency, not to mention realistic physiology,” says Grossman, noting that academic concepts such as the “male gaze,” once little discussed outside liberal arts campuses, are now part of mainstream cultural discourse in a way that seemed unlikely until very recently.

Girlgaze,” a project by the English photographer, actress and television presenter Amanda de Cadenet launched in April, bills itself as “the first multimedia platform committed to supporting girls behind the camera.” The project aims to help women break into the photography industry by raising awareness of how women tell visual stories. In addition to de Cadenet, it features curators including supermodel Amber Valletta and photographer Inez van Lamsweerde. Contributors include actress and generation Z idol Yara Shahidi, dancer Maddie Ziegler, and TV host Alexa Chung, while a roster of lower-profile but mega-talented female-identifying photographers round out the group.

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Photography by Shingi Rice for Girlgaze
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Photography by Bree Holt for Girlgaze
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The Getty Images Lean In Collection, a collection of realistic, authentic images of women and the communities that support them, launched in 2014. Today, nearly 40,000 images today have been downloaded through the collection, while Lean In images have been licensed in more than 95 countries—a testament to the growing public demand for authentic and female-focused storytelling.

In 2018, expect media and marketers to pay more attention to the women behind the lens, not just the women on screen. It’s the logical extension of a heightened focus on women in media—one that’s already playing out at the box office.

“Everyone likes great storytelling, and we all empathize with nuanced characters,” Grossman observes. “But we’re more likely to see that sort of work created about women if it is created by women.”

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