The New York Times: The First Female Photographers Brought a New Vision to The New York Times [paywall]

“As revolutions go, this one got off to a quiet and unassuming start in the early 1970s. It was achieved slowly, one female photographer at a time, each hired by The New York Times for her talent with a camera and her desire to practice the best journalism possible.

The men who hired the first of those women quite likely weren’t thinking about altering the prevailing concepts of photojournalism. But over time, as more women were hired and gained acceptance, they began to push successfully for publication of images that were different, for the truths they saw in people and events, for assignments that had once been denied them and for assignments that had not been envisioned before….”

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My Modern Met: Interview: Online Directory of Female Photographers Challenges Gender Bias

https://mymodernmet.com/alreadymade-female-commercial-photographers/

“Tired of the marginalization of female photographers in the commercial world, Jill Greenberg decided to take matters into her own hands. The successful photographer, whose work went viral due to her set of crying toddler photos, has started the directory Alreadymade. The site serves to take away any excuses for clients who feel as though they can’t find talented female photographers for high-end commercial photo shoots by giving these talented women a platform.

Although women are responsible for 85% of consumer purchases, female photographers are passed over for the majority of entertainment shoots and advertising campaigns. This means that male photographers are shaping the way we see and perceive the world the majority of the time (up to 90%)….”

Commentary

It is great to see that Jill Greenberg has added her reputation and energy to the fight for equal female participation and representation in the creative media with her Alreadymade. initiative but sad to see that, despite a long history of great photography by female photographers, the numbers continue to be so against that equality.

Some influential, inspirational female photographers in my past

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The Photojournalist: Two Women Explore the Modern World and the Emotions of Individuals; Mary Ellen Mark & Annie Leibovitz; text by Adrianne Marcus, with the editors of Alskog, inc., Masters of Contemporary Photography; New York; 1974. One of the first books on photography I ever bought.

While writing this article, I began compiling from memory a list of female photographers whose work has been crucial in shaping my own way of seeing since I first picked up a camera, and that list just grew and grew.

Growing up in an isolated little town in the uttermost west, I did not have access to other photographers or to museums or galleries and certainly never saw exhibitions of photography anywhere back then, but I could and did order books from lending libraries in other towns across the state via the state library system and occasionally managed to buy photography magazines, so my access to other people’s work was limited.

As I added names from memory, this list just grew and grew and it is just the tip of the iceberg.

Further information about these photographers and links to their websites and other sources are available at Wikipedia’s List of women photographers.

  • Annie Leibovitz
  • Berenice Abbott
  • Bettina Rheims
  • Cindy Palmano
  • Deborah Turbeville
  • Diane Arbus
  • Doris Ulmann
  • Dorothea Lange
  • Edith Tudor-Hart
  • Ellen von Unwerth
  • Fay Godwin
  • Florence Henri
  • Gertrude Käsebier
  • Graciela Iturbide
  • Helen Levitt
  • Hilla Becher
  • Jane Bown
  • Jill Furmanovsky
  • Jo Spence
  • Joyce Tenneson
  • Julia Margaret Cameron
  • June Newton née Browne aka Alice Springs
  • Laura Gilpin
  • Lauren Greenfield
  • Lee Miller
  • Lisette Model
  • Lotte Jacobi
  • Lucia Moholy
  • Margaret Bourke-White
  • Markéta Luskačová
  • Martine Franck
  • Mary Ellen Mark
  • Nan Goldin
  • Peggy Sirota
  • Pennie Smith
  • Sally Mann
  • Sarah Moon
  • Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
  • Susan Meiselas
  • Sylvia Plachy
  • Tessa Traeger
  • Tina Modotti
  • Vivian Maier
  • Yevonde Middleton

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Bluecoat Press: Elswick Kids, Kickstarter Campaign for Latest Book of Photographs by the Great British Documentary Photographer Tish Murtha

Tish Murtha, one of Magnum photojournalist David Hurn’s first students at the famous School of Documentary Photography in Newport, Wales, in the 1970s, was one of the finest documentary photographers of her generation but, in the all-too-usual manner, was ignored by the photography establishment until recently thanks to the tireless efforts of her daughter Ella Murtha, The Photographers’ Gallery, Bluecoat Press, Café Royal Books and others. 

Commentary

The course at The School of Documentary Photography was unique in Britain at the time and produced many fine photographers, a couple of whom later moved to Australia.

Others went on to fame and fortune, while Tish Murtha seemed to have disappeared into the background after initial early successes and commissions, dying prematurely in 2013.

Given the way female photographers have tended to be ignored and forgotten, it is wonderful to see that Tish Murtha is finally receiving the recognition that she deserved so much in her lifetime.

Photograph from “Elswick Kids’ by the late, great British documentary photographer Tish Murtha.

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