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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Women Street Photographers

Image above by Elisabeth Neudorf, form the Series Super Pussy. 

Sometimes we get limited by the smallness of our minds and the narrow ways in which we see definitions. If I think of landscape photography, if I google landscape photography, I come up with something bloody awful with pictures of lakes and sunflowers. 

Same thing happens if I google fashion photography. The most awful dross comes up. 

And the same thing (with one or two exceptions) happens for street photography. It's a shocker.

But I love landscape in its more complex forms. It tells you something about the land and how we live it, and the best work involves touch and sound and darkness and beauty. And I love fashion when you escape the constrictions of a narrow definition. It's the same with street photography once you get away from the limited perspective so many people have, myself included.

I remember going to see the Open City exhibition of street photography a few years back. It had Klein and Frank and Moriyama in there which was great but it went way beyond that to include Wolfgang Tilmanns, Philip Lorca diCorcia, Nikki S.Lee, Catherine Opie and Susan Meiselas. The criteria was location and a forward looking perspective, not a restricted view to the past. Age, gender, and ideology were secondary to being interesting and making interesting work. It felt very free and open and I loved it so much. 

A short while ago, there was a post on Facebook about the lack of women street photographers. I thought about this and wondered who you could include. I could think of a few people but not so many. 

So I put up a post on Facebook and a whole bunch of names suddenly came forward. What was interesting was the sheer range of perspectives that were being expressed.  While people like Elizabeth Neudorf and Amy Romer look at the power structures of the street and how they connect to gender, class and migration, others take a more conceptual view. Still others look at community and collaboration, some are voyeuristic and then there are those with more traditional view.  

A lot of the time street photography is decried for having too male a perspective, for its voyeurism and lack of ethics. But there are women who have a voyeuristic approach too, and for me some of the most interesting work is in-your-face and quite confrontational. 

I still think a lot of people find that difficult to handle and try to limit what people can photograph due to their own gender based prescriptions of what photgraphy should be. They do it with age, and race and ideology too, and it always limits what you can photograph and what you can see. The great thing about the responses on the Facebook post was the openness, freedom and delight of the respondents. There wasn't a generic closedness about what street photography could be. 

Anyway, here are some of the photographers who got mentioned - it's not exhaustive (Diane Arbus and Helen Levitt aren't in there for starters). Some are classic street, some the street definition might be stretching it a bit, for some an interaction with public spaces is only one aspect of their work, but so what, who cares (not me), some are advancing photography in public spaces into new and exciting areas. And this is just a small cross section. There are fantastic women street photographers out there.

And for more on women street photographers, go to Petapixel here and the Guardian here. 

Image above from The Dark Figure by  Amy Romer 

The two images above are from Byker by Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen 

Image above by Maria Plotnikova http://mariaplotnikova.com/

Image above from the Daily Street by  Michelle Groskopf

More Daily Street by Darcy Padilla 

Above image by Lavinia Casaburo

Street Dailies by Amy Touchette.

Diane Beals 

Above image by Betsy Karel

Above image by Jane Macneil 

Tish Murtha

Monica Tiwari

Above image by Anushree Fadnavis

Vivian Maier

Lauren Welles

Above image by Hannah Starkey 

Image above from Yu by Dragana Jurisic

Jeanine Buckley

Haley Morris-Cafiero

Picture above from Unlawful Meetings by Lina Hashim

Image above by Susana Raab, one of my favourites!

And that's it for now. I'm sure there are many, many more from different parts of the world. So do feel free to post additional links in the comments. Thanks to everybody who made a suggestion and apologies to anybody I missed out. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Colin, you've created a useful reference.

We will have some great female Street Photographers speaking at STREET LONDON and a panel discussion about being a female street photographer. We have a little more budget now and have been able to cast the net further afield which has helped a great deal.

I'm interested in how far you think definitions should be rolled back? for example I've always maintained that Street Photography should be candidly shot as far as is possible, I see photographs that aren't candidly shot as something else altogether. Should we break down all divisions and just call it all photography? should we just include photography as an art and not differentiate it from painting or sculpture? Aren't definitions useful in letting us know what we are looking at or are you of the opinion that it doesn't matter how a picture was made as long as it works?

When you're putting on an event for something like street photography, these definitions become pertinent. I wouldn't for example invite Peter Funch to show his composited street scenes because they're not photographs at all but illustrations. That to me is a significant demarkation. I don't buy this 'it's all good' approach.