Ever since its invention back in the 19th 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.
Barbara Bosworth (American artist, educator and photographer, 1953-) is an internationally-renowned photographer whose large-format images explore both overt and subtle relationships between humans and the rest of the natural world. Whether chronicling the efforts of hunters or bird banders or evoking the seasonal changes that transform mountains and meadows, Bosworth's caring attention to the world around her results in images that similarly inspire viewers to look closely. Bosworth grew up in Novelty, Ohio. She currently lives in Massachusetts, where she is a professor emeritus of photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. Over her long career, she has photographed in both black and white and color. Her single images display a generous attention to small facts, while her large-scale triptychs reveal a panoramic awareness, one that lets viewers glimpse relationships between frames across a wide field. While all of Bosworth's projects remind viewers not only that we shape the rest of nature, but that it also shapes us. Her work has been widely exhibited, notably in recent retrospectives at the Denver Art Museum in Colorado, Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona. Her publications include The Heavens (Radius Books, 2018), The Meadow (Radius Books, 2015), Natural Histories (Radius Books, 2013), Trees: National Champions (MIT Press; Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, 2005) and Chasing the Light (Nightwood Press, 2002). In a San Francisco MoMA interview, the photographer asserts that her processes are slowed down due to the use of film, and that the care and thoughtfulness put into her work increases with that time. She takes her time carefully studying the landscapes, which primarily consists of forests, birds and the people her work has crossed paths with. Like other landscape photographers, Bosworth's declared interest is in exploring the world at her own pace and appreciating what nature puts in front of her. She believes that observation is necessary to the artistic process and end product. Although she examines what appears before her in the natural world, Bosworth's chosen subject matter remains very personal and depicts specific moments that she has experienced. Her first photographs in and around her home in Ohio were taken from her rectangular living room window, looking out into the Ohio forest. Although her earliest photographs rarely included humans, she increasingly focused on people's connection to and effects on the surrounding environment, and she often mentions her parents and her upbringing as influences. Barbara's mother developed Parkinson's disease and dementia, while her father passed away from old age. Bosworth was able to channel these experiences into her work, drawing on them as an inspiration for her book Behold: "Photography is our validation that we were there" (2014). The multi-awarded artist often reveals the sacredness of the land through her work, in a subdued and ironic way. Her images are tranquil and transcending, uncomplicated and immediate. For Bosworth, who has taken photos for more than 40 years, photography is an act of capturing things that are disappearing and a tool that allows her to reflect on life and death.
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.