Geek Feminism Wiki

Photography is common at many geek events such as Technical conferences and Science Fiction conventions. Online posting of photography, and commenting on those photos, is also very common in geek communities (and, increasingly, in the wider non-geek community).


  • The act of photography may constitute harassment if a photographer follows a subject around in a creepy way, takes photos when asked not to, etc.
  • Women who take part in cosplay or dress or appear distinctive in other ways may be particularly subject to this.
  • Photographs which weren't taken in a harassing way may nonetheless lead to online harassment when posted, as people may make harassing comments about the subject. Online comments on women's appearance often relate to their sexual attractiveness, or constitute body policing.
  • Many women in geek communities have been subject to some form of harassment related to photographs of themselves.
  • Official event photographers or marketers for events may wish to use images of women to promote diversity at their events, but in doing so may show pictures of women who were harassed at the event or seem to be implying that women are supporting/promoting the event when they don't particularly feel that way.

A Geek Feminism blog post on harassing photography and recording lists the following potential problematic behaviours raised by commenters on a previous post:

  • photography/recording conducted in a way that is designed to hide the fact of the photography/recording from the subject both before and after the shot/recording happens
  • photography/recording that is indifferent to or careless of the subject’s feelings about being photographed/recorded
  • photography/recording that is othering: “wow, women! *click click*” or “hey, babe, smile for the camera!” or later posted with othering, sexist or creepy commentary
  • failing or refusing to stop photographing/recording on an explicit request or appearance of discomfort (eg turning away or frowning or covering one’s face, etc)
  • publishing photographs without the subject’s consent, or after the subject’s explicit refusal of consent
  • use of photographs to implicitly or explicitly endorse an event or community, eg, using pics of smiling participants from the previous year in publicity materials, without consent.



Some geek events have explicit policies around photography. Here is one example policy with implementation guidelines.

WisCon policy[]

WisCon's photography policy (ca. 2011) reads:

Almost everyone who has a cell phone has a camera, and almost everyone who comes to WisCon has a cell phone. Video and audio recording and photography for personal archival use only is generally okay, unless individuals make it clear that they do not wish to be photographed or filmed, in which case any photography or recording of them is expressly forbidden.
Please be polite and ask before taking photographs or recordings. We suggest that photographs be taken before or after a program event to avoid distracting panelists and audience members from their discussion.
You agree to be solely responsible for clearing any and all rights and permissions for any use(s) you might make of the photographs, recordings,transcripts and similar material you take from the convention. Such material may not be posted to any commercial website or commercially operated streaming server including but not limited to YouTube, nor used for any commercial purpose whatsoever. Please ask permission of the subjects before posting to any generally available web sites including unlocked Flickr, Facebook, or LiveJournal accounts.

Further discussion[]