In Conversation: SheClicks Founder – Angela Nicholson
Within just one short year, SheClicks has had a major impact on female photographers, providing a community where like-minded creatives can learn, share and socialise. The number of members has grown at an impressive rate and shows no sign of slowing. With the group’s first major exhibition lined up for late September 2019, Simon Skinner catches up with the group’s founder, Angela Nicholson, to find out more.
SS: Can you please spell out SheClicks’ mission statement for us?
AN: SheClicks’ aim is to support and encourage women who are interested in photography, whether they’re just starting to get interested in it as a hobby or they’re a professional photographer. It’s a support network with a huge amount of collective knowledge so we can help each other learn.
SS: What have been the main drivers for you to set up a female-only photography group?
AN: Firstly, it’s not about excluding men so much as creating a place were women feel comfortable
sharing images and discussing photography. There are lots of reasons for SheClicks, for example, I go to a lot of photographic events where women make up a small minority of the attendees and the pages of most of the main photographic magazines [and the press generally] mainly feature images by men. Photography plays a vital role in communication and understanding of issues, and it’s important that there’s equal representation amongst the photographers. I know many great female photographers who shoot interesting, creative and thought-provoking images, yet for a variety of reasons, their photography doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves. The subject of confidence, or the lack of it, often comes up in connection with female photographers and I hope that SheClicks can help with that.
SS: Please tell us a little about how the group formed; was there a spark of inspiration, or has this been a long term plan?
AN: For years my partner kept telling me that I should do something to engage with female photographers, but at a website didn’t seem like the right starting point. When I was leading a photo walk at Wilkinson Cameras’ Digital Splash show a few years ago, a group of women told me that they’d signed up for my walk because I was the only women leading one and they felt more comfortable asking me questions. That got me thinking. Then around 24-18months or so ago, Facebook Groups really started to take off and it seemed like the logical place for SheClicks to start.
SS: Is the group geared towards professional photographers, or are people welcome at any level?
AN: SheClicks is for women with any level of experience of photography and whatever camera they use. We have members who use a phone and are thinking of buying their first camera as well as professionals who use top-end kit. And in-between, there are enthusiasts with all sorts of camera gear. The range of photography is amazing, some SheClickers shoot a bit of everything, while others concentrate on specific areas.
SS: What has the general reaction to the group been since launching last year?
AN: SheClicks launched on 5th August 2018 and I’m amazed how quickly it’s grown. We got to a 1000 members in about a month and we’re now close to 5,000. The reaction has been very positive, I’ve received lots of encouragement and support from within the photographic industry. And the SheClickers are a wonderful bunch, everyone is generous with their knowledge.
SS: Is She Clicks a solo project, or is there a team driving the group activities?
AN: It’s a solo project. I have the support of some great friends when I need advice, but I drive the activities. That said, some SheClickers have organised their own meet-ups when they’ve discovered that they live near each other, which is great.
SS: What kind of group activities have you organised/are you planning for the rest of 2019?
AN: Once or twice a month we have a webinar that’s presented by a woman in the photography industry. The first one was by Kate Hopewell-Smith who spoke about taking control of flash and another was by from Elke Vogelsang who explained how she shoots such amazing images of dogs. More recently Rachael Talibart told us some of the lessons she learned when turning her hobby into a profession, and website designer, Hollie Clarke, outlined the key stages in creating a website.
We’ve also had a few photo walks and meet-ups, sometimes with kit from camera and accessory manufacturers so that members can try a new camera, lens or accessory.
Recently, my focus has been the exhibition, but I’m planning some photo challenges and more meet-ups.
SS: You’ve partnered with Olympus for the first SheClicks exhibition; can you tell us a little about the entry mechanism, categories, judging criteria etc?
AN: The purpose of the exhibition is to showcase the talent of female photographers and give some the opportunity to exhibit a print for the first time. With the printing, framing and gallery generously taken care of by Olympus UK, my biggest concern was how I’d manage all the submissions. Thankfully, Photocrowd agreed to help. Photocrowd is an online photographic competition platform, so they had everything in place to do the job. There are no categories for the exhibition, it’s completely open. I asked SheClickers to submit the images they are most proud of and that they would want to hang on a wall. Of course, that made the judges’ job even harder because we wanted to include as broad a range of work as possible. However, the nine judges (Tracy Calder, Amy Davies, Martina Govindraj, Kate Hopewell-Smith, Liz Jeary, Astrid McGechan, Beata Moore, Georgina Pavelin and Katie Teesdale-Ward) who helped me rose to the challenge and did a brilliant job.
SS: Is the plan for this to become an annual exhibition?
AN: I’d love to make it an annual exhibition! It’s been a superb learning experience for me and a wonderfully positive project for the community.
SS: Have you been pleased with the volume and quality of submissions for the 2019 event?
AN: We had 2005 submissions from 868 photographers and the quality was fantastic, so it was really
hard to whittle them down to the 50 that are printed. We had to make some heartbreaking choices.
SS: What can we expect to see from She Clicks in 2020?
AN: Well, firstly the exhibition is going to be shown at The Photography Show at the NEC in March, which is exciting. I’m hoping for a big turnout of SheClickers over the fours days as we’ll be having
meet-up and events at the show – building on what we did at the last show.
There will also be more meet-ups with exciting opportunities for the participants, and the webinars
will continue but I’d like to increase their frequency if possible. I’ve got a few other ideas up my sleeve, but I’m not ready to reveal them just yet. I think 2020 is going to be an exciting year for us.
Further details of the exhibition, which is sponsored by Olympus UK and Photocrowd and takes place at the After Nyne Gallery in Holland Park, London from Sept 25th – 1st Oct 2019, can be found in our news piece HERE.