A reader from London, Ont., wrote this week to say she was annoyed with the weekend photo essay on the Toronto International Film Festival that featured eight photos: four centred on male stars, two fan photos and two showing the shoes of women stars.
"Two female stars and only their feet. Come on! Haven't we got past the days when women are portrayed as clothes horses? You can do much better than that. Review the whole front section of the Saturday paper and you will notice a similar lack of effort to portray women's faces – oh, except the gamine on the front page. Your unconscious omission has significant consequences. Both men and women are seeing with their eyes that only men are newsworthy. Shame!"
Her comment about not enough photos of women in the paper is fair. On Saturday, in addition to small shots of Globe and Mail writers, there were photos of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Alberta premier-designate Jim Prentice, Father of Confederation George-Étienne Cartier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, slain teenager Tina Fontaine and author Margaret Atwood.
While The Globe's photo and page editors say they try to show more women and members of visible minorities, the reader's complaint is a good reminder to keep trying. While there will always be photos of political and business leaders, who more often are men, editors need to make an effort to use more pictures of women and visible-minority members.
The reader's point on the one day of TIFF photos needs some context. I found it an interesting twist on the regular film-festival coverage to focus on the stars' shoes as a one-time novelty. Unlike photos of business and political leaders, pictures of actors on the red carpet are interesting in large part because of what they are wearing, and shoe fashion is part of it.
Also, every other day's photo spread of TIFF stars has shown a pretty equal number of men and women: This week we have seen Keira Knightley, Janet Gretzky, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Garner, Rosario Dawson, Reese Witherspoon, Holly Hunter, Octavia Spencer and others.
While it is true that the first two days of TIFF last week featured men on the front page (Al Pacino and Robert Downey Jr.), you have to look at the coverage as a whole and not single out one day. It depends on what movie is premiering that day and what major star is front and centre.
Over all, the TIFF photo selection has been balanced, perhaps even favouring women, but it is an important reminder than an effort needs to be made to show more women and the greater diversity we see in Canadian society.