Professional photography has been historically dominated by men, and in certain areas, we still see low representation of women (e.g. the number of women who won World Press Photo accolades). Photography has a rich history of prolific and significant photographers, but here is a short list of a few female photographers whose work you should know now.
1. Holly Andres
Fine art photographer Holly Andres explores themes of childhood – particularly of girls – with a film noir style reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock. The saturated narratives are evocative of Alex Prager (also in our list), but her black and white documentary work on cheerleaders at the University of Oregon are as compelling as anything we’ve seen.
2. Cass Bird
If there were an award for coolest photographer (male or female), Cass Bird might take all the cheddar. Her casual photographic style has led to work with everyone from The New York Times T Magazine to Pharell’s new album cover for “Girls.” Her 2012 tome “Rewilding” captures two brief weeks between 2009 and 2010 when she trucked down to Sassafrass, TN to capture images of “letting go, being wild and creating a space that someone can be free in.”
3. Julie Blackmon
Julie Blackmon’s images are a fantastical look into dynamic family life. Growing up in a large family and having children of her own inspired Julie to begin documenting the many adventures of day-to-day child rearing. Unlike her predecessors, which have clearly fed her inspiration such as Sally Mann, Julie’s work is more commercial-ready. Filled with everyday brands such as Febreze, Apple iPods, and Revlon boxed hair dyes, Julie’s images ring a very familiar and true look into the contemporary household. Her composited images tell multiple stories within a single frame (much like how a single room in a family home can), and the placement of each commercial item is part of her decisive moment. Her work has shown in multiple galleries around the US, and her client roster includes Time, The New York Times Magazine, Real Simple and more.
4. Barbara Davidson
Look at the list of winners from World Press Photo and you might get the idea that there are no female photojournalists. “Hard” news is still often perceived as the domain of men, but Barbara Davidson’s track record proves otherwise. With a Pulitzer and this year’s POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year award under her belt, she continues to capture stunning images of contemporary issues like gang violence in her backyard of Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
5. Nicole Franzen
Self-taught photographer Nicole Franzen has a wanderlust that typifies successful food and lifestyle photographers. Franzen is a perfect example of the contemporary photographer who embraces technology and social media with over 65,000 followers on Instagram, an active blog, Flickr feed, and VSCO account. Her food photos make you want to eat. Her lifestyle photos imbue you with FOMO. Her travel photos make you want to abscond from the frigid winter weather.
6. Stephanie Gonot
While Instagram is awash with poorly lit, unappetizing photos of food, Stephanie Gonot’s website is full of rainbow-saturated food. The Los Angeles-based photographer’s hyperreal style often features quirky styling like melted ice cream and plastic fingers pestering a slice of pizza. Humor and optimism offer a stark contrast to the zen-like qualities that characterize most contemporary food photography.
7. Amanda Jasnowski
Very new to the game, twenty-one year old Amanda Jasnowski’s internet persona ‘Hokaytokay’ is also her printed name on job call-sheets. Blending personal with professional, Amanda is blurring the lines – gaining both clients and collaborators, such as Nordstrom Rack and Jimmy Marble, all via her Instagram. Hokaytokay is every girl’s best friend. Responding to commenter’s praises and posting the occasional selfie, Amanda has channeled her quirky personality through her social media channels with ease – and while it’s clear she’s still finding her voice and developing her eye, it’s going to be a delightful evolution to watch via @hokaytokay.
8. Gillian Laub
After earning a degree in comparative literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Gillian Laub matriculated to the International Center of Photography. She gained recognition for her work entitled “Testimony,” which documented a spectrum of lives from Israeli Jews to displaced Palestinians. The work led to the publication of a book by Aperture with the same name. The award-winning photographer has continued to create meaningful work like her examination of race and culture in “Southern Rites” and last year’s video and photo essay on the gender reassignment of a ten year old.
9. Sara Naomi Lewkowicz
New York-based Sara Naomi Lewkowicz rose to prominence with her domestic abuse essay in Ohio entitled “Shane and Maggie” while pursuing a Master’s degree at Ohio University. Like Donna Ferrato’s work from a generation prior, Lewkowicz bore witness to the often hidden violence that permeates segments of domestic life, and captured important images while re-opening the question of when should a photographer intervene. Her stunning work won the 2013 Ville de Perpignan Rémi Ochlik Award and the 1st prize stories for Contemporary Issues at the 2013 World Press Photos Awards.
10. Diana Markosian
Documentary photographer Diana Markosian earned a well-deserved place on PDN’s 30 list of new and emerging photographers this year. Armed with a master’s degree from Columbia University, Markosian has traveled to remote regions of Asia and Russia to capture images for publications like The New York Times, Foreign Policy, Marie Claire, and more. Her ability to control light and composition make her photographer reminiscent of classic photographers in the National Geographic mold.
11. Emily Nathan
Her photographic work speaks for itself, but Emily Nathan set herself apart from the pack with her Tiny Atlas Quarterly – a online “magazine” of self-commissioned stories shot with the help of her friends who earn their living as stylists, art directors, photographers, digital techs, and more. The Bernstein and Andriulli repped photographer has photographed for a range of clients including Apple, Dwell, GQ, The New Yorker and more.
12. Alex Prager
Brilliant color and a film noir style characterize the work of the self-taught Alex Prager whose work is as likely to be found in the MoMA as it is for a Mercedes Benz ad. The staged narrative style is vaguely reminiscent of the likes of Gregory Crewdson, but the color palette and subject matter seem more influenced by her west coast surroundings.
13. Peggy Sirota
Editorial and Commercial photographer Peggy Sirota has been on the scene for decades, but her styles seems perpetually contemporary, and she continues to work with top magazines like GQ, Rolling Stone and Esquire and brands like Amazon, Banana Republic, Trojan and more. We love the youthful energy that seems to exude from all her photos.
14. Ami Vitale
Armed with a degree in International Studies from the University of North Carolina, Ami Vitale spent time as a photo editor and then as photographer and gained wide recognition for her work in Kashmir in the mid 2000’s. However, recently, her photography has turned from journalism to advocacy with her involvement in the anti-poaching movement in Africa. Using the crowdfunding platform Indievoic.es, Vitale raised $25,000 to continue photographing the indigenous groups that operate at the frontlines of the poaching wars. A latecomer to social media, Vitale has also garnered over 19,000 on Instagram after joining the service five months ago.
Know others female photographers who deserve recognition? Add them in the comments here!