The field of photography is not just a tough one to break into. You also have to have an eye, understand lighting, and be able to capture images quickly before the shot disappears. It is even tougher for women to enter the field, with young women making up a good portion of younger photographers, but making less money and ultimately earning less fame than their male counterparts. But Margot L. Jordan hasn’t let gender obstacles block her dreams. Starting her career in radio and other areas of communications in new York City, she is now one of the go-to photographers for major events, from the Essence Awards to the UNCF Benefit Gala.
Photography is a growing field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with photographers earning on average about $14 an hour or $28,130 per year. There are various types of photographers, from wedding photographers to portrait photographers, photojournalists, paparazzi, and fashion photographers. An international and celebrity photographer such as Jordan, can pull in considerably more than average–and in the process create a legacy.
Consider famed photog Gordon Parks, who before he died in 2006, broke color barriers in photojournalism and fashion photography, his portraits hang in museums, and through photography he ventured into filmmaking (Shaft).
We spoke with Jordan about the legacy she wants to create.
Madame Noire: Why did you decide on a career in photography?
Margot Jones: Photography was inevitable. I was a writer who told stories and the photography came with it. I started in high school and even got called Lois Lane. I can laugh now [but] back then I cried. Fast forward to Monday night when I got off a plane from Nice, France from my latest assignment in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
MN: What is your typical work day like?
MJ: Edit, edit, edit. This is when the real work begins. Photography is about light, vision and relationships. It is extremely difficult to exist without these. Skill in obtaining the right shot is key.
MN: There are some famous female photographers, such as Annie Leibovitz, but the field is dominated by men. What is this like?
MJ: I guess that I have to own up to being a “star photographer.” There are more men and women have to become aggressive or miss the shot. I can take care of myself and have been doing so for a very long time. All of my assignments are rewarding. One of the greatest rewards is knowing that your photo is referred to day after day. I enjoy creating memories – the moments in time that can never be reproduced.
MN: What do you enjoy most about your career?
MJ: First, I love it and, second it was always there. As a writer, producer for television and radio, I always photographed everything. When work dwindled in certain areas, I began majoring in others. Today it’s called reinvention.