Meet F Collective, the Women Who Are Increasing Gender Diversity in Advertising Photography.
Diana Mulvihill is an advertising and editorial photographer who was born and raised in Chicago.
Diana’s grandparents are immigrants from Sicily who found a place for their family in the United States. Her belief in creating opportunity and equality for all people is rooted in this background.
After nearly a decade as a photojournalist, Diana attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where she graduated with distinction before moving into commercial photography. She is based in Northern California.
What’s the meaning of the name F Collective?
Our name was created by two friends I studied with Art Center College of Design: Mindy Benner, a creative at Anomaly, and Suzanne Sherwood-Moore, a copywriter with TBWA. I am so grateful to them, because I love the name. F can stand for so many things: Female, Feminine, Freedom, Fresh. It’s really open and free-flowing, which I love. It can also be Free-Flowing! Haha.
What’s the story behind F Collective? How and why did you set out to create it?
The answer to that is twofold.
The first is that a friend (also Mindy, actually) let me know about Free the Bid, an initiative for female directors who work on commercial spots. I contacted them to let them know that I loved their idea and to request that they include commercial photographers. They said that they didn’t have the resources to do so, but strongly encouraged me to begin one. After seeing the amazing results that they produced in their first year (BBDO and CP+B reported as much as a 400 percent increase in jobs directed by women), I was incredibly inspired. After learning that women in commercial photography create only 10% of the content, the idea stayed on my mind.
The thing that made me take action, though, is an experience I had with a friend. She’s a single mother of two. I went with her to look at an apartment in the Bay Area that was a really great deal. It was renting for a lower price than most other places, but it was a small. I was immediately struck by the fact that there were many people gathered to see this apartment and all of them were women. My friend is not a commercial photographer, but seeing these women line up in need of this apartment made me realize that this is what inequality can like in a lived way. And I could do something to remedy this in my little corner of the world: commercial photography.
Any unforeseen challenges you faced while getting this off the ground?
Thus far, not at all! It’s only been a few weeks and it’s taking off so quickly! We’re so grateful that so many people and organizations (like 3%) have been kind enough to support us and to help spread the word about what we’re doing.
Any worries for the future of F Collective?
The thing that comes to mind is that we are a very small team of volunteers. F Collective is really gaining attention and it’s been a challenge to keep up with it all. Ideally, I’d love to do what Free the Bid has done, which is secure funding for a full-time employee. Things would progress so much quicker if we could achieve that.
What I’m grateful for within this is that the ‘Collective’ ethos is really coming to life. Many local members (Chloe Aftel and Ericka McConnell come to mind) immediately reached out after our launch to ask what they could do to help. That means a lot because we can make so much more progress together. I also love the sense of community it’s already engendering. It’s really been a wonderful, unexpected side effect of beginning the Collective.
Why is it important to have gender parity in the photography space?
It’s important for so many reasons. Including both genders is, of course, fair and the right thing to do. It’s also valuing what women bring to the world, adding them to our cultural conversation. Really, it’s a smart move for brands, too: women make the majority of purchasing decisions for households. It’s important to speak to them authentically and represent them accurately. Having content created by women for women can be incredibly effective in this realm.
Who are some of your favorite female photographers?
There are so very many talented female photographers, the list would be so long! I would say that I admire the work of every woman on F Collective have done really amazing work in the advertising realm.
What can agency, brands, and individuals do to help at this point?
The wonderful thing our successful launch has confirmed for me is what I had always suspected: most everyone is in favor of equality. However, we’re all just unsure of how to engender it while busy with our day-to-day lives. We have received so many emails from people of both genders who are hugely in favor of the idea.
On our site we have this wording: “We believe that our industry is filled with good-intentioned, progressive thinkers. F COLLECTIVE offers a simple way to bring these good intentions to life.”
What all agencies and brands can do to help is to take and enact our pledge. We are asking ad agencies to pledge to include one woman on each job they bid. From there, they recommend to their client the creative that they think is best for the job, woman or man. We’re asking brands to pledge to ask their agencies and content producers for one bid from a female photographer on each job. And individuals who are in favor of what we’re doing can help us spread the word about F Collective and encourage their agencies or brands to pledge with us.
What’s your next move for F Collective?
Our next step is to reach out to brands and agencies, asking them to pledge with us. We are also gearing up for a launch event here in the Bay Area.