The "Everywoman": What We Can Learn from Bayard Wootten

What makes the history of photography different from other art forms is that women have rightfully enjoyed the photographic medium since its inception. To say it's inherently a man's craft is false. There are many names of women photographers of its early history, and one of those is Bayard Wootten, the American photographer who did things her way.

Whether you're a man or a woman, here are some pointers we can learn from Wootten.

Independence is Powerful

The love life of Wootten may sound familiar to some — her husband Charles abandoned their family for the California Gold Rush, when people obsessively mined for gold leading to severe long-term effects. To support her two sons, she relied on art and photography to manage her financial responsibility as a single mother. She did it like it was no one else's business — she painted flowers on china and porcelain, and eventually after receiving her photography instruction, she set up her own photography studio. Wootten specialized in portraiture, but she also was an adventurous woman, reportedly known as the first photographer to take aerial photographs for the Wright Brothers' Model B airplane by riding it.
No man? No problem.

Know Your Value

Women's rights seemed like a pipe dream during the early years of the 20th century, but it's thanks to those dreamers, those who knew their rights as humans and self-worth, that the world now caters to gender equality. This year marks as the 100th year of the Suffragette Movement, and aside from Wootten being an artist and a photographer, she was the staunchest advocate of them all. She used her reputation and standing to aid women's organization, eventually becoming the President of the Women's Missionary League's publicity department.

Be "More"

What makes Wootten so admirable, apart from her early pictorialist landscapes and aerial photographs, is that she lived a life beyond being just an artist. Wootten did not only paint and photograph, she was also a member of the National Guard and is the first woman to get in there. Unlike other pictorialists who rejected commercial photography (as with Alfred Stieglitz), Wootten embraced the business area of art and photography. In fact, she's even contributed into designing the iconic logo Pepsi-Cola.

The most important thing to learn from Wootten? She was a humanitarian at the heart of it all, even using photography to save the impoverished soldiers and Camp Bragg, which was meant to close. With all that was said, Wootten definitely serves as a role model photographer to be looked up to.

Images are from Flickr Commons, public domain.

2018-03-08 #culture #international-women-s-day #bayard-wootten

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