“Be fearless and pragmatic” — On facing sexism in the arts

Nadia Correia’s photography is stunning, and she knows it. She can say that with pride now — but confidence in her own work hasn’t always come so easy. Made to doubt herself throughout film school, and often overlooked in her professional life, she spoke to us about her experiences as a woman working in the creative industries.

What did you rent from Fat Llama, and why?

I’m a producer and photographer, and the industrial fan I rented through Fat Llama was to support one of my photoshoots.

Your work is so beautiful — how would you describe your aesthetic?

Feminine. Striking. Very strong concepts. Very bold.

Who inspires you?

It all started with my grandad; he used to be a photographer, and I started photographing with him when I was 10. Then I diverged a bit from photography through film school. Unfortunately, sometimes when you go to a traditional school, some of the teachers, especially if they’re men, aren’t so welcoming to the fact that you have women trying to pursue camera roles. And that was always my deepest interest.

So you faced sexism at university?

Oh, definitely. There was a teacher who was bullying me, in a way — I’d be the best in class when it came to photography skills, but in weekly exams he’d give me the worst grade he could possibly give me. To this day I still don’t understand why. It was so frustrating. So I definitely felt sexism from a very early stage in my career.

How did you cope?

There’s no alternative — at some point you have to stop crying, so to speak, and start being a little bit more pragmatic. Like, I need to finish uni, so let’s just do this.

Is this something that you still experience?

There are certainly still criticisms to be made, but fewer and fewer. You definitely feel more confident about achieving what you want to achieve, and I think today the world is more open to female photographers — we’re free to experiment, free to use different techniques.

But as I said, I’m also a producer, so I know from the production side that you sometimes get comments like “men are less problematic”. I can’t name names, but I can guarantee you that.

Wow.

It’s very…. unfortunate.

How do you think we can tackle this?

It’s definitely for production companies to make sure that whenever they’re presenting professionals and talent to their clients, they’re being diverse, and they think about gender. If you have male talent that’s better than the female talent, that should still be put forward. But there should be more balance with it. I can assure that most of the presentations happening right now are very male-focused.

What advice would you give to young women who are starting out in photography or production?

I’d say to be fearless and pragmatic about things. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and to ask for feedback. That’s important — actually being able to take feedback.

What about networking tips?

Be a pain in the ass if you have to — invite them for a coffee, try to meet them and let them know that you’re there. It’s persistence, you know.

But also, try to bring some relevant conversation to the table; other people’s time is precious, and it’s a privilege to be given it.

You can find Nadia’s website here, and her Instagram here.

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