If you can feel it in your soul, you've got to say so, you've got to step in and say so, otherwise, you're dying inside.
Linda Wolf (1950-)
Ever since its invention back in the 18th century, photography has been documenting life. At the same time it focuses on inviting audiences to a rather subjective world, while trying to be taken serious as an art form. Photography has always been considered a male dominated profession, but luckily things are changing. Scholars, writers, bloggers, photography students and enthusiasts have been giving due to the female pioneers of the field. Most of them were always standing and/or hiding in the shadows, oblivious to how much they could acclaim and accomplish. Arguably, the technique, concepts and thematic female photographers use differ from those of a male photographer. At a time when most women were convinced that their place was in the kitchen and certainly not in the dark room, there were those who were struggling to surpass their male counterparts and work towards gaining respect and recognition for their work.
Linda Wolf (American photographer and author, 1950-) was born and raised in California. Her interest in photography was born out of her father's passion for the medium. He was the one who bought Linda her first camera, when she was a teenager. A little after high school, Linda happened upon a darkroom at a music studio and decided to pursue photography professionally. From 1970 to 1975, Wolf lived and studied in France, attending the Institute for American Universities and L'Ecole Experimental Photographic. Her early photographic work in France focused on people and village life in the Vaucluse Mountains. After returning to the USA, Wolf attended Evergreen State College and taught photography through the University of California. She also worked as a staff photographer for the Los Angeles Citywide Mural Project. The American photographer and author is one of the first female rock and roll photographers, but she also makes fine art photography with an emphasis on women and global photojournalism. Her body of work is mostly human-centered and she is mostly known for her global portraiture which focuses on women and indigenous cultures. In her 50+ years in the business, the artist has moved through photojournalism, fine art, street, portrait and rock and roll. Her work has been published in quite a few newspapers, magazines and periodicals and is part of many collections in museums, libraries and institutions all over the world. Wolf was one of the 100 top photographers worldwide for the book, Twenty-four Hours in the Life of L.A. Through the years, Wolf has received numerous grants, awards and support for her humanistic projects. Her large scale portraits of multicultural residents America Welcomes the World for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles was exhibited on billboards throughout the city and was sponsored by Eastman Kodak. Her video montage, I am a Full Woman, has been viewed online over 50.000 times and shown at international women's empowerment events and TED-x conferences. Linda is still active and takes part in events, lectures, panel discussions and exhibitions. One of her most recent projects was Breathe, a group exhibition, inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. All the works of the exhibition focused on social justice and human rights, addressing diverse and connected issues.
Elizabeth Heyert (American photographer, 1951-) was born in New York and received her Master's degree in photography and the history of photography from the Royal College of Art, London. She started up with a small commercial studio in 1999, but after shooting around the world for The New York Times, Vogue and other publications, Heyert decided to move on to a more personal exploration of the medium. The photographer established her reputation in the art world with her ground-breaking series The Sleepers, The Travelers, The Narcissists and The Bound. The Sleepers was all about experimenting with unconventional forms of portrait photography. It was a series of black and white photographs of sleeping nudes than - within three years - got Heyert her first solo exhibition in New York. The Travelers is a series of large-scale color post-mortem portraits that stirred quite the discussion and controversy. The Bound, her limited edition artist's book of photogravures, was acquired by the Beinecke Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts at Yale University. Elizabeth's work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and numerous private collections. The series The Idol explores religion, popular culture and the myths and false images society creates about women. It premiered at the 2019 Venice Biennale. Heyert's work has been extensively reviewed and discussed in leading international publications. A short list of her many photography books includes The Outsider, Metropolitan Places, one of the classic anthologies of 20th century design which she wrote and photographed, The Glass-House Years and many more. Elizabeth is currently on her way to Italy, where she will be exhibiting her new project, Metamorphosis, during the 2022 Venice Biennale. Her photos are part of a larger exhibition called Personal Structures, featuring the work of 150 contemporary artists. The show will run from April until November 2022.
I think that women are often lumped into categories - single gals, or soccer moms, or career women, or women of a certain age. For some reason our society wants women to wear labels, and not only on their clothes.
We will continue talking about female names that left their mark in photography and about contemporary female photographers who are still to emerge. There are a lot of female photographers out there deserving of praise and we can only hope to cover as many of them as we can. Please, follow this space to find out more.