International Women’s Day – One for the Ladies

Image of a Geisha in full traditional dress looking down, tea house, Kyoto, Japan

Today is International Women’s Day, a day for the ladies. Photography has never been an “equal” profession, although we have made great strides recently to correct that and give the lady her due. We have come a long way, but there are still things we can do to equalize the playing field. To give you an idea of how far we’ve come, when I started out as a photographer in 1992, I was frequently asked if I wanted help carrying my camera and was often addressed by the term, “little lady,” as in, “little lady, what are you doing with that big camera? You’re going to hurt yourself!” (Yes, somebody actually said that to me once.) Cringe aside, I thought I would address the ladies who lens on this International Women’s Day.

I’ve had the benefit of studying under some great photographers who happen to be female so perhaps I should start there. Barbara Hagen was my earliest mentor and teacher and I owe a lot of my photographic style to her expertise and guidance. In 2007 and 2011, I was lucky enough to travel to Big Island, Hawaii to work with the incredibly talented Kathleen Carr. She’s a divine spirit and a wonderful creative inspiration, having worked with Polaroids, hand coloring, digital infrared, and other techniques, not to mention showcasing the fantastic world that’s under the sea. In 2008, I studied with Joyce Tenneson, whose “Wise Women” was the best selling book of 2002. She’s also a great mentor and teacher and I treasured my time with her. The year 2010 brought me to Santa Fe where I studied with the fantastic Elizabeth Opalenik. This was really a life changing course of study, as I met several life-long friends there and came to learn a lot about my photographic style in the process. More recently, I studied with Julien McRoberts who helped me feel comfortable shooting strangers as I wandered about the streets of Las Vegas. Sure, there have been some great guys in my photographic studies as well but these ladies have done a lot to pass the torch so to speak so a big shout out to them on this women’s day.

Apart from the female photographers I’ve directly worked with, there are several who have left their mark on the field who I would like to give a special call out to on this International Women’s Day. If you have not heard of these ladies, you owe it to yourself to check them out. There’s some great photography in here, regardless of gender and it’s made all that much more special knowing there was a lady behind the lens. Here are some of my favorite female photographers:

  • Cindy Sherman  whose work with self portraits helped define the genre
  • Lee Miller – assistant to Man Ray and so much more, her portraits were stunning 
  • Candida Hofer whose “Architecture of Absence” defines empty libraries for all of us 
  • Uta Barth – did someone say “abstract minimal?” Yes, why, yes she did. 
  • Dorathea Lange – the original social justice warrior, her “Migrant Mother” set the stage
  • Margaret Bourke-White whose images of the dust bowl and India defined a time
  • Lynsey Addario – global traveler and keen study “Of Love and War”
  • Carrie Mae Weems – who regularly churns out images that are both thought provoking and stunning
  • Berenice Abbott – whose images of New York helped define New York 
  • Cyg Harvey – who brings a narrative to life with stunningly beautiful images 
  • Diane Arbus – who made us look at twins in an entirely new way
  • Vivian Maier – who left us a riddle for the ages 
  • Francesca Woodman – who left us sensuous, intimate portraits 
  • Annie Leibovitz – who became a celebrity shooting celebrities 
  • Julia Margaret Cameron – known for her soft focus Victorian portraits 
  • Imogen Cunningham – part proud member of the f/64 group, part crazy plant lady 
  • Graciela Iturbide – who gave us iguanas from down Mexico way 
  • Susan Burnstine – who shows us what happens when you attack your lens 
  • Nan Goldin – who “went there” and came back with the images to prove it 
  • Aline Smithson – who gives us Lenscratch and some wonderful personal work to boot 
  • Jody Miller – who showed us the Salton Sea and lots of other goodness in the world 
  • Gerda Taro – who showed us war can be beautiful 
  • Mary Ellen Mark – who shared her gritty view of the streets with us 
  • Sally Mann – who shares her intimate view of family and life itself 
  • Tina Modotti – Mexico by way of Italy brought her images to life 
  • Eve Arnold – who was behind the lens for Marilyn Monroe and many others  
  • Alessandra Sanguinetti – who came from New York to share tales from an Argentinian farm
  • Maggie Taylor – who gave us composites and other craziness we love 
  • Julie Blackmon – portraits of family that look like paintings? Check!
  • Nina Berman – whose war themed images make us feel stronger 
  • Jill Enfield – who colored our world with her hands 
  • Linda McCartney – who married a Beatle but gave us lots of images too 
  • Joanne Carter – TheAppWhisperer who brings together mobile goodness  
  • Karen Divine – who mixes paint and an iPhone for some wonderful results 
  • Fran Forman – visual artist extraordinaire who works with photography

Finally, there is one very important photographer I have left off of this list and that is….you!

If you are looking to advance your work, here are some choices:

Let’s keep the circle unbroken by getting our work out there and building upon the backs of these wonderful photographers. Regardless of your gender or your gender identification, I hope you’ll check out some of the work on this page and support the “ladies who lens” whenever possible.

Until next time…


  1. Juliet
    March 11, 2020 / 9:50 am

    Thank you for this wonderful post, Carol! I did not know these names, and it is great to discover all these talented photographers.

    Also your photos are lovely, is there a way I can subscribe to your blog? I am a hobbyist photographer myself; I post my photos at: Have a great day!

    • Carol
      March 16, 2020 / 3:54 am

      Hi Juliet, Thanks for stopping in and I'm glad the list will introduce you to some great photographic work. Lots of great ladies out there making some great images so happy the IWD can help us recognize that wonderful talent.

      Yes, there is a subscription option for "Carol's Little World," which you can get to if you mouse over to the right hand side of the frame, under my picture, there is a subscribe button. It takes you to this link I believe:

      If you enter your email you can subscribe there and you should get notice whenever there is a new post here, fingers crossed and all.

      I checked out your blog and love it! You are such an adventurer I am going to subscribe and can't wait to follow along on your next adventure as well. Love your spirit and you have some great images to share as well.

      Safe travels and good light as I like to say.


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