19 most influential female photographers of all time
As the world is celebrating International Women's Day today, we thought we'd chip in with 19 women who have influenced photography now and in the past. This list is of course not exhaustive - feel free to comment if you think we've missed someone.
American photographer and writer, Diane Arbus (1923 – 1971), was known for her pictures of different or ‘deviant’ people such as dwarfs and transvestites. She was the first American photographer to have photographs displayed at the Venice Biennale, and her life story lent inspiration to the motion picture Fur, starring Nicole Kidman as Arbus in 2006.
American photographer Eve Arnold died this year, on 4 january 2012. She was the first woman to join Magnum in 1957, and she was best known for her portraits, including a ten-year collaboration with Marilyn Monroe. Arnold published over 15 books with the latest one All About Eve, released in January 2012.
Annie Griffiths Belt
Annie Griffiths Belt is one of the most famous landscape photographers around today. Her career with National Geographic has yielded a fantastic collection of inspiring images of people and places throughout the world.
Margaret Bourke-White (1904 – 1971) paved the way as the first female war correspondent, the first female permitted to work in combat zones and the first foreign photographer permitted to take pictures of Soviet Industry. She was also the first female photographer for Life magazine.
Julia Margaret Cameron
Indian-born, British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 – 1879) was given a camera as a present at the age of 48 and became known for her closely framed and illustrative portraits of celebrities of the time. Her tightly cropped, soft-focus portraits were sometimes ridiculed in her own day, but they inspired many modern photographers.
Rineke Dijkstra concentrates on single portraits and usually works in series, looking at groups such as adolescents, clubbers, and soldiers. Her subjects are often shown standing, facing the camera, against a minimal background. This compositional style is perhaps most notable in her well-known beach portraits, which generally feature one or more adolescents against a seascape. This style is again seen in her work of women who have just given birth.
Jill Furmanovsky became the official photographer at one of London’s premier rock venues, the Rainbow Theatre, after only two weeks’ training in photography in 1972. She has photographed many of the biggest names in rock music, including: Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, Bob Marley and Oasis, and she has received several awards for her music photography, including 'The Jane Bown Observer Portrait Award' for her portrait of Charlie Watts in 1992.
Anne Geddes is an Australian-born photographer, clothes designer and self-professed baby-freak known for her stylized portraits of infants. Her books have been translated into 23 different languages and her debut book Down in the Garden made it to the New York Times Bestseller List.
Jill Greenberg is considered one of the best photographers of people and animals today. Her photography genres range from art to commercial, both of which led her to take photographs of animals, children and famous celebrities. Jill Greenberg does not hide how staged and posed her photos are. She uses great lighting, perfectly arranged settings and a lot of retouching to produce striking and visually stimulating photographs.
Roni Horn is an American visual artist and writer. Her work, which spans almost four decades, encompasses sculpture, drawing, photography, language, and site-specific installation. She received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA in sculpture from Yale University.
Dorothea Lange (1895 – 1965) influenced the development of documentary photography and is best known for her work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) between 1935 and 1939, which highlighted the plight of sharecroppers, displaced farm families and migrant workers during the Great Depression.
Helen Levitt (1913 – 2009) was an American photographer. She was particularly noted for her street photography around New York City, and has been called ‘the most celebrated and least known photographer of her time’.
Annie Leibovitz is among the most famous portrait photographers today. She has produced a lot of incredibly well known images of celebrities during her career with Rolling Stone magazine and Vanity Fair. Many of Leibovitz's images have been controversial, such as the shot of a naked, pregnant Demi Moore. Her most notable cover is the Rolling Stone cover of the John Lennon commemorative issue which featured a naked John Lennon curled up with Yoko Ono, shot mere hours before Lennon was shot and killed outside his apartment.
Sally’s most famous and infamous works of photography centred around her children, who she captured in their most vulnerable and natural moments, in some instances nude. Some critics deem the photographs of her children bordering on child pornography. But for her, it was an innocent work of art conveying drama and moody atmospheres. No matter what critics say, Sally Mann sticks to her vision of using old style photography to explore humanity and our loss of innocence.
Italian-born Tina Modotti (1896 – 1942) was a photographer, model, actress, and revolutionary political activist.
Modotti found a community of cultural and political avant-gardists in Mexico and became the photographer of choice for the Mexican mural movement, documenting the works of José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera. Her one-woman retrospective exhibition at the National Library in December 1929 was advertised as "The First Revolutionary Photographic Exhibition In Mexico".
Unlike most famous female photographers, Cindy Sherman gained her fame not just because of her style (using a single photograph to tell a story) but also because of her usual subject and model in her photos; herself. For most of her career, she used her own body and image as the subjects of her photographs which are usually provocative and sometimes controversial. Her conceptual photography has raised a lot of eyebrows, but that didn't stop her from continuing with her career as a photographer.
American Kiki Smith is classified as a feminist artist. Her ‘body art’ is imbued with political significance, undermining the traditional erotic representations of women by male artists, and often exposes the inner biological systems of females as a metaphor for hidden social issues. Her work often includes the themes of birth and regeneration, as well as sustenance and frequently has Catholic allusions.
Ellen Von Unwerth
Ellen Von Unwerth is a German photographer and director. She became known for photographing Claudia Schiffer, and her images have been published in many major magazines such as Vogue and Vanity Fair. Unwerth won first prize at the International Festival of Fashion Photography in 1991. She worked as a model before becoming a photographer.
Carrie Mae Weems
Carrie Mae Weems is an American photographer and artist. Her award-winning photographs, films, and videos have been displayed in over 50 exhibitions in the United States and abroad and focus on serious issues that face African Americans today, such as racism, gender relations, politics, and personal identity.
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