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  • Writer's pictureMorgyn Goff

21 Female Identifying Photographers for 2021

March is International Women's Month. In honour of that I wanted to highlight 21 female identifying photographers whose work I enjoy and thought you might like to explore.

Self-deceit #1, Rome Italy, 1978

Francesca Woodman © Charles Woodman Courtesy Charles Woodman, and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

Singh's work explores female identity in contemporary India, within the intersection of gender and nation. Particularly drawn to stories that stand at the conflux of radical vulnerability and power; her images highlight India’s transition and contrast while exploring a dual dichotomy between feminine identity and strength. These female narratives are constructed within India’s own traditions, poised between fragility and abundance. -

Cameron trained herself to master the laborious steps of producing negatives with wet collodion on glass plates, favoring slight blurs in her images and looser compositions than the polished portraits of her colleagues. Many critics praised her originality, though others derided her for slovenly technique. Drawing inspiration from historical and contemporary writers and painters, Cameron also staged scenes from history or literature, such as her photographic illustrations of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, and regularly enlisted family members, friends, and domestic servants as models for Madonnas, Christ figures, and angels. -

I developed my love and strong interest for science first during my artistic career. For me, the connection of these two spheres has always made total sense. The scientific world resonated back into the realm of new theories, and also fiction. It’s interesting how the look and appearance of an »alien« body, or the picture of a glowing finger is universally understood! All spread throughout the world by science fiction books and Hollywood movies. At some point, I worked on both of these aspects, visiting fan based science fiction conventions where for example audience members reenacted science fiction scenarios but also spoke to professional scientists at respected space centers at the same time. Even though I initially tried to avoid science fiction movies, I developed a fascination for the aesthetics of space travel. During my work, I came in contact with so many aspects of the topic. From the current state of science, over pseudo sciences to pop culture. -

An American photographer best known for her intimate black-and-white portraits. Arbus often photographed people on the fringes of society, including the mentally ill, transgender people, and circus performers. Interested in probing questions of identity, Arbus’s Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey (1967), simultaneously captured the underlying differences and physical resemblance of twin sisters. “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know,” she once mused. -

Namsa Leuba was born in 1982 from a Guinean mother and a Swiss father. She grew up in Switzerland but has spent years on a “journey back” towards her African roots, using the language of photography to approach her personal identity in a variety of ways. In particular, she has focused the past 5 years of her artistic research on visualizing African identity through Western eyes. -

For the past 11 years, I’ve been living in Malaysia, working as a university lecturer. During my time away from home, I noticed how often people talk about Iran without having a real picture of the country in their minds. This inspires my work on Iran, sparking my desire to show a reality that many people don’t get to see. -

Known for her deeply personal and candid portraiture. Goldin’s intimate images act as a visual autobiography documenting herself and those closest to her, especially in the LGBTQ community and the heroin-addicted subculture. Her opus The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1980–1986) is a 40-minute slideshow of 700 photographs set to music that chronicled her life in New York during the 1980s. -

Known for her black-and-white self-portraits and images of other female models. Despite her short career, which ended with her suicide at the age of 22, Woodman produced over 800 prints during her life. Influenced by Conceptualism and featuring recurring symbolic motifs such as birds, mirrors, and skulls, Woodman’s work is often compared to Surrealists such as Hans Bellmer and Man Ray. The majority of the prints produced by Woodman are untitled, and her works are known only by their date and location. Woodman’s photographs often depict nude women and blurred images, where figures merge with their surroundings and faces are obscured. -

Known for her lyrical images of elemental subjects. Based in the Shinto religion as well as the works of Irving Penn, Kawauchi’s photographs capture ordinary moments with a profound almost hallucinatory perspective. “From the black ocean comes the appearance of light and waves. It helps you imagine birth,” she has mused. “I want imagination in the photographs I take. It’s like a prologue. You wonder, ‘What’s going on?’ You feel something is going to happen.” -

Miller's artistic practice was grounded in the medium of photography, and her unique visual style documented the sights and landscapes she encountered on her travels around the world in a manner influenced by a Surrealist eye for the uncanny or strange. She also maintained a close relationship with many other artists, particularly those resident in pre-war Paris. She performed in films by Jean Cocteau, was painted by Picasso and was muse to Man Ray during their time living together. After her experiences as a war correspondent she retired to her farm in Sussex (England) and was largely unremembered as an artist until after her death, when her son Antony Penrose rediscovered her archive. Through his establishment of the Lee Miller Archive she then began to be acknowledged as an important artist in relation to both the Surrealist movement and the development of photography as an art form. -

Sama Alshaibi’s practice examines the mechanisms displacement and fragmentation in the aftermath of war and exile. Her photographs, videos and immersive installations features the body, often her own, as either a gendered site or a geographic device, resisting oppressive political and social conditions. Alshaibi’s monograph, Sama Alshaibi: Sand Rushes In (New York: Aperture, 2015) presents her Silsila series, which probes the human dimensions of migration, borders, and environmental demise. -

Eve Arnold began her photographic pursuits while working in a New York City photo-finishing plant in 1946, and soon after began studying with Alexei Brodovitch, a noted art director at Harper's Bazaar. Capturing the most glamorous and famous faces of the last century, including Malcolm X, Marilyn Monroe, and Jackie Kennedy, Arnold served as the official photographer on 40 movie sets. In equal measure, Arnold focused her lens on the lives of ordinary people around the world, traveling from China to South Africa.

Jackson raises questions about the media construction of celebrity and whether we can believe what we see when we live in a mediated world of screens, imagery and internet. She comments on our voyeurism, on the power and seductive nature of imagery, and on our need to believe. She raises questions about our preconceptions and challenges them often controversially. Jackson's interest in the Royal Family has resulted in her making photographs of a Queen look-alike on the loo or changing royal nappies, and other lookalikes posing as Prince Charles, Wills and Kate, and Harry and Meghan, as well as others. Her work sits squarely in the middle of the current fake news, alternative facts or news debates. Her work has established wide respect for her as an incisive and thought-provoking commentator on the burgeoning phenomenon of contemporary celebrity culture. -

Kayo Ume

Although her work often provokes laughter, Kayo herself says she doesn’t seek out scenes that strike her as funny so much as ‘startling’. The photographs are often amusing but never mocking: they are a celebration of the unique quirkiness of human beings. ‘Our world wouldn’t be what it is without everyone,’ Kayo said in an interview with Time Out Tokyo. ‘It’s thanks to everyone.’ Kayo’s role as photographer isn’t entirely voyeuristic either. The pictures here provide an intimate life-cycle, from eagerly performing schoolboys to her beloved grandfather

Jessica is a photographer based in Los Angeles and San Francisco. She approaches her subjects with as few preconceived notions as possible, allowing people the space to collaborate with the moment and the place they inhabit. She strives for honesty and to look at things as they are, without artifice or judgment. The result is something that is at once observant and intimate. Paring down aesthetics, Jessica relies on gestures, color, form, and composition to heighten the subtle nuances of people and landscapes in a simple yet revealing fashion. It is this mix of intention and intuition that brings depth and mystery to her photographs, suggesting life beyond the frame. -

"My images tend to be colorful, lighthearted, and whimsical. My favorite kind of projects are the ones I get to collaborate with creative directors and art directors closely. It makes me REALLY happy when my pictures/footage make people smile." -

Kambli creates digital compositions that juxtapose older family pictures from India with artifacts she brought from home, along with her own recent photographs, using arrangements of multiple images to bring out visual and poetic correlations. The projects have a genealogical aspect, as Kambli gathers and recontextualizes the records of her family history, her own photographs introduce staged, fictional elements as well, underlining the performative nature of identity. In some instances Kambli wears clothing or jewelry that resemble what her mother—or she herself as a child—is wearing in an earlier photograph; in other images she poses in a way that echoes how one of her family members presents herself to the camera. In many of her compositions Kambli also includes photographs of patterned cloth, recalling Indian saris, which contribute to the rhythm of internal frames and create another visual bridge between now and then, here and there. -

Tshepiso Mazibuko Before she was introduced to photography – via an initiative called Of Soul and Joy, which aimed to expose the students of Buhlebuzile Secondary School to the medium – her interest lay in the field of journalism. Although she has switched from words to images as a means of expression, on one hand she remains true to her original ambition in that she tells stories of people who live near her, documenting the township in which she was born and still lives. On the other hand, she veers away from the mode of documentation, playing with light and focus to create evocative images that Sean O’Toole has described as ‘capable of recognising in the bare facts of human circumstance something close to poetry.’ Her sensitive approach to image-making, and her honest representation of real people, makes Mazibuko a successor to the likes of Santu Mofokeng and David Goldblatt. -

A photographic artist based between Edinburgh and Eastbourne, UK. She works between photography and film, exploring the intersections of culture and identity. Shah spent an earlier part of her life living between India, Ireland and the Middle East before settling in the UK. This migratory experience is reflected in her practice, which often focuses on the notion of home, belonging and shifting cultural identities. Shah’s work tends to draw from Asian and Eastern mythology, using it both visually and conceptually to explore issues of cultural displacement in the Asian diaspora. -

Described as a multifaceted artist, award winning British fine art photographer Kirsty Mitchell draws on her past careers in fashion design and costume making, to produce images of beguiling dream-like worlds all shot in the English landscape surrounding her home. Kirsty describes her approach as ‘Fantasy for Real’ spending months meticulously handcrafting her characters costumes and props to coincide with the bloom of wild flowers, and the seasonal extremes of her local environment. Some pieces have taken up to 5 months to create every element by hand, and over a year to plan. The photographs are entirely real, assembled like mini film sets, and shot first hand on location in all weathers. -

Juno Calypso is a London based artist working with photography, film and installation. While studying photography at the London College of Communication, Juno began taking pictures of herself disguised as a character named Joyce. In 2015 Juno took Joyce to a romantic themed hotel in America. Posing as a travel writer, Juno gained access to multiple rooms which she used to stage her series of solitary self-portraits. Studying solitude, desire and femininity through a dark comedy lens. The Honeymoon was awarded an international prize by the The British Journal of Photography. For her latest project, What to do With A Million Years, Juno staged photographs in a mansion built underneath Las Vegas in the 70s as a shelter from nuclear terror, and currently owned by a mystery group attempting to achieve immortality. -

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