Thursday, 13 March 2014
A Random List of Some Global Women Photographers
pictures above by Newsha Tavakolian
The Photoshelter Blog did a post called 14 Women Photographers you should know and, while I have a degree of sympathy for the blogger (you can't please everyone all the time especially in a blog) I have a sympathy for a number of complaints people have about the post.
First of all, the post is very North American - although it has some kinds of diversity, it is not exactly global in outlook. Secondly, it is quite a strange number - 14. John Armstrong said this which I thought sums it up.
14 is a very small number and I thinks sends a signal that the number of “female photographers you should know now” is limited. In reality the number is in the hundreds. To keep things manageable you could sort them into basic groups (by age, nationality, practice or whatever) and present them in a series of articles. And/or make your qualifications clear, like born after 1970 (or 75 or 80), new and emerging/up and coming, or simply not yet widely known in the anglophonic world (if you can measure that).
I am not sure about restricted lists, but as the photography business is very male-dominated and has a male centred point of view, extending the list to a global perspective adds dimensions that help us understand the world and its beauty, its cruelty and its injustice.
My prime example for this is probably the film Wadjda which I posted on a few weeks ago (here, and that led to this and then this which hopefully shows exactly why a woman's perspective might be more important and truthful and just than a man's). It really broadened my perspective ( not because it was made by a woman) but because it had a core that opened up a new world of understanding for me.
Strangely enough, I interviewed Cass Bird (who is second on the Photoshelter list) for the BJP. What I love about her work (and you can't really see it on her website) is how her personal work on gender and sexuality informs her commercial work, how she brings relationships and love into her work, how it becomes experiential and so universal. I also like the fluidity in her work - she says that rigidity is inauthentic. I like that.
And having that fluidity of perspective extends to gender. I really enjoy the fact that the best-known perspectives of what it is to be a Somali woman comes from a man, Nuruddin Farah. It's not the gender, it's the sensibility, the empathy and the understanding. But he is the exception rather than the rule.
So working on that spirit of love, I reached out to some people on Andy Adams' Flak Photo Network to see who the women photographers from Asia, Africa and Latin America are we could be looking at. And I was delighted to get so many answers from Hester Keijser, John Armstrong, Arturo Soto, Corina Pickering, Douglas Stockdale and Kate Wilhelm.
Some of the names are ridiculously well-known, some not known at all. And it was the latter that brought me into new ways of understanding and seeing. And that is what social media is all about; sharing and discovering new ideas, new thoughts, new images and rediscovering the world in new ways.
Here's a list. It's just a list and should be better organised because it's a huge mix. But I especially like Maids in Lebanon by Natalie Naccache.
Here's one regional overview in Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World
Ana Casas Broda
Hyo Jin In
Rana el Nemr