Foremothers of Photography

Happy Womens History Month to all!

Today, I would like to share a small sampling of formidable women photographers.  Some of these women may already be familiar to you. But, since I have seen so many articles this month about how the average person can't name 5 female artists or that women are completely underrepresented in the art world in comparison to their participation, I want to create a space with this blog to help balance things out. I have only scratched the surface while building this list.  So, I highly recommend that you click on the links provided to explore the impressive portfolios of these artists further.

Dorothea Lange (May 26, 1895 – October 11, 1965) was an American documentary photographer and photojournalist whose most famous work was done during the Depression for the Farm Security Administration. Her images shed light on the poverty and suffering that beset the migratory farm workers of that time.

Margaret Bourke-White (June 14, 1904 – August 27, 1971) was a trailblazing American documentary photographer.  She worked as associate editor and staff photographer of Fortune magazine. She was the first Western photographer allowed to take photographs of Soviet industry and was the first female war correspondent during World War II.

Berenice Abbott (July 17, 1898 – December 9, 1991) was an American photographer best known for her b&w photography of New York City architecture in the 1930s.  She was a proud feminist before that was even a thing, once saying, "The world doesn't like independent women, why, I don't know, but I don't care."

Gertrude Käsebier (1852–1934) was an influential American photographer.  Her work focused on depictions of motherhood and powerful portraits of Native Americans. She was also a strong advocate of photography as a career for women despite the conflicting general opinion of the time.


Helen Levitt (August 31, 1913 – March 29, 2009) was an American photographer who shot street photography in New York City, and earned the moniker, "the most celebrated and least known photographer of her time."  Her career as a photographer spanned nearly 70 years.

Anne Wardrope (Nott) Brigman (1869–1950) was an American photographer and an original members of the Photo-Secession movement. Her most famous images depicted strong nude women in nature.  Her suggestions of bohemianism and female liberation were an exhilarating contrast to what was otherwise typical.

Claude Cahun (25 October 1894 – 8 December 1954) was a French photographer. Her work touched upon both political and personal motifs, and challenged the narrow definitions of gender of her time.  Her self-portraits were heavily influenced by Surrealism.


Germaine Luise Krull (29 November 1897 – 31 July 1985) was a photographer and political activist.  Man Ray once told her, "Germaine, you and I are the greatest photographers of our time, I in the old sense you in the modern one."  She was a vocal part of a group of early 20th-century female photographers who aimed to take control of their own livelihoods and careers in photography when these ideas were unheard of for women.

Francesca Stern Woodman (April 3, 1958 – January 19, 1981) was an American photographer best known for her black and white self portraits. Her work continues to be the subject of much critical acclaim and attention, years after she took her own life at 22, in 1981. Her photographs explore issues of gender and self.

Leila Alaoui (10 July 1982 – 18 January 2016) was a French-Moroccan photographer. She often worked for magazines and NGOs covering the plight of refugees around the world. She died from injuries suffered in a terrorist attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso while on assignment. Alaoui believed that photography and art could be used for social activism and "reflecting and questioning society".

Stay tuned for the next installments of Celebrating Women in Photography in which we will highlight contemporaries in the field.  And, don't forget to subscribe below to insure that you don't miss out on any post from the foxcraft blog.