I think to be afraid is very important. It's to save your life, too. And over the years, each of us, and all my colleagues, we developed certain antennas. I can't really say why I don't want to go right or left. It's a feeling, and I trust mostly my feelings.
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 seriously 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 techniques, concepts, and thematic female photographers use differ from those of male photographers. 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.
Anja Niedringhaus (German photographer, 1965-2014) started her career as a freelance photographer for a local newspaper in her hometown of Hoexter, Germany at the age of 16. After finishing high school, she went on to study German literature, philosophy, and journalism in Goettingen. While in university, Niedringhaus continued to freelance as a photographer for various newspapers and magazines. Among the events she covered was the Fall of the Berlin Wall which led to a staff position as photographer for the European Press Photo Agency, EPA in Frankfurt, in 1990. She worked at EPA as chief photographer until 2001 focusing much of her time covering the brutal conflict in the former Yugoslavia. She was based for several years in Sarajevo and in Moscow. In 2002 Anja joined the Associated Press as a staff photographer based in Geneva, which remained her base. In the ensuing years, Niedringhaus covered most of the world's conflict regions in Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In addition to photographing conflicts and political crises around the world, the photojournalist also covered the world's premier sporting events, including nine Olympic Games. In 2005 Niedringhaus was the only woman in a team of 11 AP photographers who won the Pulitzer Prize in the breaking news category for their coverage of the war in Iraq. The same year Anja received the Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women's Media Foundation. From 2006 to 2007, she was awarded a Nieman Fellowship in journalism at Harvard University. Niedringhaus' work has been exhibited in a number of prestigious art houses and museums including the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt, the C/O Gallery in Berlin, the Art Collection of the German Stock Exchange in Frankfurt, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas as well as in museums and galleries in the United States, London, Austria, Switzerland and Canada. She also published two books: 'Fotografien' (Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt, 2001) and 'At War' (Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, 2011). The internationally acclaimed photographer died on April 4th, 2014, when an Afghan policeman opened fire on her car in Banda Khel, eastern Afghanistan. Niedringhaus and her colleagues had been traveling in a convoy of election workers, protected by the Afghan National Army and Afghan police. She was 49 years old when she was killed. Over the past 20 years, Niedringhaus' work has garnered numerous prizes, including Pictures of the Year International, BOP Best of Photojournalism, Clarion Awards, The Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar, Award Winner of the Goldene Feder Hamburg and Award Winner of the Abisag Tuellmann for reportage photography in 2011.
Things develop in front of my camera, and then I will try to do the best out of it. I am close, but in most of the scenes, I am trying not to be seen. I think that's the trick. I think it starts in your heart, goes to the head, and the head puts it into the finger.
We will continue talking about female names that left their mark on 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.