Sara Melhuish | London


Hello Sara, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how did you get involved into street photography?
I’m Sara Melhuish-originally from Sweden – moved over to London in 1995 for what I thought was only 3-6 months to learn the language and pull a few pints, little did I know I would be here nearly 23 years later with a lovely husband and daughter.

I have always enjoyed photography and my parents always said I had a good eye but it’s in the last 9 years that it has become a huge part of my life, it moved rapidly from being a hobby to obsession and ‘actually maybe I can do this for a living’ and now I am freelancing in combination with a ‘normal’  Monday to Thursday job to keep the wolf from the door.

I initially captured a lot of classic locations in London, architecture, landscapes but also macro and portraits, even did a couple of weddings. With time though I found that my true passion and calling  is street photography and living in London, I feel like I have found the holy grail.


So much hustle and bustle on the doorstep with perfectly normal and mundane moments of people just getting on with their day to day life captured to show something simply beautiful. Sometimes the shot falls into your lap, but sometimes you have to position yourself and wait for the perfect moment, especially if you have seen the perfect light or shadow to capture. I can spend hours just slowly walking around and  'merging' myself with the area and pace. I'm usually at my happiest at a street corner in Soho watching the world go by. As luck has it my normal job takes me all over the City & West End which means before and after I can take some time out to destress with the camera, sometimes meeting up with fellow photographers as well which gives an edge and challenge as you get that little bit braver. The weather makes a big difference to what I capture as well.  Nothing like a bit of wet tarmac and cobblestones combined with umbrellas and neon lights at night.


I am also very fascinated by street art and the gritty urban but oh so beautiful areas of London that has not been gentrified as yet, especially parts of the East End  incl Shoreditch and Hackney but also parts of Camden, so I also spend a lot of time there and try to show and incorporate all of this in my street photography.

What fascinates you so much capturing life in the streets?
It shows the true real life as it is, unstaged and raw. Little glimpses into people's lives and no matter from what social background, gender, ethnicity, religion or political stance.Just that little moment of time


What are you looking for when you go out into the streets and shoot ?
I look for  little story to unfold in  front of me that I can capture in one click, also shadows and the beautiful morning and evening light that leaves a golden glow. A beam of light wasing over somebody's face or arm, harsh backlights for a sharp contrast/shadow. Maybe not a person, a lonely pair of high heels  deserted on a street on the Strand, a reflection in a window with the whisper of a face or body showing through. Puddles where droplets of rain are splashing with the reflections of passers by with umbrellas, vaping smoke clouds obscuring the view of a face. A hug, kiss or a hand shake, an argument or a tear, laughter and joy. So much out there on the streets of London.


You submitted work you shot in Soho. Is that one of your favorite places in London?
It is indeed, an absolute melting pot of people and culture. The life goes on around the clock 24/7- it just never stops.

Population demographics Soho
Population: 24,639
Average age: 33
Retired: 16.62%
Unemployed 3.8%
Educated to degree level: 52.81%
Student: 11.25%
Total migrants: 29.59%

There is so much to see and experience.

Local residents, market and stall holders on the back streets with pop up food courts and fruit and veg. All the restaurants, cafes and shops with masses of tourists bumbling around,and taking in the atmosphere. The slightly shady part that comes out at night when the revellers swerving down the neon lit streets  popping in and out of bars, pubs and clubs. Scantily clad, suave looking, fancy dress, killer heels, leather onesies -anything goes. ChinaTown with its colourful lanterns, fantastic food and shops and bars, you can buy amazing cakes or if you fancy - fresh crabs and lobsters. Carnaby Street with quirky boutiques and funky dressed people shopping until thy drop. Old Compton Street with theatres, bars, barbers and cafes.No better place to enjoy a spot of people watching with a cuppa and cake.

You are Swedish and live in London. As a street photographer and observer of the city - Can you tell us a little bit about the relation of the city and its people?
Swedes and Brits are quite alike with dry humour and a lot of sarcasm. People say that London is an unfriendly and lonely place with people just getting on with their life. I beg to differ, I have seen so many acts of kindness towards strangers as well as Londoners standing together in when acts of horror has descended on the city. The true stiff upper lip and getting on with life but also with immense empathy.


What suggestion for great streets spots would you give to street photographers who are traveling to London?
Well all of the streets and areas as mentioned above as well as the individual ones like Brick Lane, Brewer Street, Camden Market, Petticoat Lane, Southbank, Covent Garden, More London, Leadenhall Market, Spitalfields, Clerkenwell, Farringdon, Greenwich Market, Smithfield, Notting Hill/Portobello, Borough Market - I can go on and on, there are so many fantastic areas to capture.

Was there a photographer or any style of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?
Well you have the classics that I have looked for inspiration to over the years like Henri Cartier -Bresson, Vivian Maier, Joel Meyerowitz but newly discovered as I get more and more involved in the genre are Nick Turpin (whom I would also love to go on a photowalk with), Thomas Leuthard, Alan Schaller, Simon Roberts, Becky Frances, Jill Freedman, Harry W. Edmonds, Craig Whitehead (@sixstreetunder) and Joshua K.Jackson (@joshkjack).


Julia Coddington | Sydney


Hello Julia, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got into photography?

I am fortunate to live in a beautiful place just south of Sydney, Australia on the coast.  Not the greatest place for a crazy street photographer because of the lack of people, but otherwise I think it’s paradise.  I try to scratch a living being a landscape architect in a small place and travel as much as I can with my partner.  

I have always owned a camera, and like lots of kids of my generation had a polaroid camera and a little Kodak instamatic 110 format pocket camera with those little blue disposable flash bulbs.  They were so cool! In the 80s I lived in Indonesia for a while and armed with an Olympus OM10 enjoyed wandering the streets taking photos. My three kids then became the focus of my photos until I was allowed back out of the house to rediscover life! (I’m kidding).

In 2008 I got my first iPhone and this was when I really got hooked after discovering I could discreetly take candid, stealth photos of random people in the street. Since 2012 I’ve been able to travel more and have discovered the joy of street photography in the process.


You are a street photographer. What fascinates you capturing life in the streets?
I’m sure all street photographers find human beings endlessly fascinating. I just love watching people and their interactions, gestures, movements and emotions. Using street photography to capture those interactions - those special human ‘moments’ is like the icing on the cake. 

Street photography is a very addictive past time. The addiction runs deep for most street photographers because they are on an endless quest to capture that perfect moment. The other addictive aspect of street photography is the meditative, almost ‘fugue’ like state you reach when you get into the ‘zone’. So part of the fascination of  street photography and capturing life on the streets is also around the street photographer’s ability to meld into the street or the scene. I have a slight advantage because I am a small, non threatening, middle aged woman and for this reason am invisible. Wearing my ‘invisibility cloak’ I can become part of a scene. I can listen to what is happening and anticipate what people are about to do.  No one really notices me or pays attention and this gives me confidence and (an ever so slight) sense of power.


You submitted a body of work called “Out of the blue”.  Tell us a bit about it.
My style of street photography is inspired by the Australian environment - the strong light and colours, and of course the blue sky which is ever present. I like to create photos without clutter and which are distinctive for their colours, shapes and movement. We don’t have interesting old buildings and coloured backgrounds or walls where I live so I use the stark blue of the sky to create a backdrop against which colourful shapes float or stand out. 

Can you describe what you’re looking for in your composition? 
Compositionally I strive for clean, crisp photos without clutter or mess.  Colour and movement are also elements I like to capture. But these are often not enough and I also try to include gestures, emotions and something quirky in my photos.  The best street photographs also have layers with their subjects well spaced. This is what I aim to achieve in the my compositions but is it of course always very, very difficult to capture the perfect shot.


Are you more of a walk and watch or a wait and see kind of street photographer? 
Both. It really depends on the situation.  If I find an interesting scene where something is happening, or about to happen - I wait, watch and insert myself into it - listening and observing closely. If nothing is happening, I move on or in some situations chase after a subject or a scene.

What's your favourite focal lengths and can you explain us why? 
I shoot wide.  My favourite focal length is the 18mm (28mm equivalent).  Although more and more I am using a 14mm (21mm equivalent) because it allows me to get in very close to the subject.  I occasionally use a 23mm (35mm equivalent) although this is often too tight for me.  If I am shooting portraits or a gig, I will use a 23mm or 50mm.


What tips or advice would you give a photographer who is starting with street photography?
Most people starting out in street photography are afraid to get close to people or are worried about a person’s reaction if they’ve discovered you’ve taken their photo.  Know your rights as a photographer. In most countries taking photos of people in public spaces is perfectly legal. If someone asks you what you’re doing, explain what street photography is about and the importance of it. Be proud to be a street photographer. If we didn’t exist, those wonderful moments of life on the streets would never be captured.

As a woman street photographer you have a huge advantage because you are less of a threat.  Use this advantage.  Don’t be afraid. Have confidence and courage.  

Read and learn as much as you can about street photography, and look at the work of the masters to understand what makes a street photograph great. And listen to podcasts! You can learn so much from them. But most importantly get out and shoot a lot, and experiment a lot!  Don’t just take photos of people walking towards you. Try all sorts of different angles, look for the light and where the light is, for gestures, emotion, colour and movement.


How important is traveling for you as a photographer?
It is very important because it gets my street photography juices flowing. Being in a different environment forces me to stretch myself. We all get ‘stuck’ in our own environments, always photographing the same thing. I love taking photos here, with the blue sky in the background, but I also want to push myself and put myself into situations that are unfamiliar. 

Traveling is also a wonderful way to meet and connect with other street photographers. If I could afford to travel all the time, I would! 

Beside your work as a photographer you teach workshops. What can people expect joining your workshops?
I am quite an active street photographer and move around a lot to get the best angle, crouch down low and get in very close to the subject. I love teaching others how it’s possible to do this - encouraging students to get close and help them feel comfortable working in close proximity to their subjects so they gain confidence and courage. Students practice getting into the middle of a scene and working it. They also learn about my approach to shooting colour, light and movement and about ways to produce strong images.


Can you tell us anything about the photography scene in Australia? Are there any female photographers you can recommend?
Street photography is a relatively new and unknown genre of photography in Australia.  It is a small community and quite disconnected - largely because of geography. In January, my friend and fellow street photographer Rebecca Wiltshire and I cofounded the ‘unexposed collective’.  We called it a ‘collective’ as a reaction to the traditional male dominated collective. Unexposed is inclusive of all people but we only feature the work of Australian women and non binary street photographers. The aim is to connect street photographers in this country and build community.  So far the response has been great and we’re realising how many wonderful women and NB street photographers there are here. The following people are producing work which is primarily street photography focused: Amal Tofiali Bleed, Catherine Matthys, Deb Field, Kimboid, Libby Holmsen, Linda MacLean, Martine Lanser, Rachael Willis, Rebecca Wiltshire, Simone Fisher, Teresa Pitcher - among others - but please check out the work of all unexposed collective photographers on the Instagram feed and Facebook group page.

If you had the chance to go on a photowalk with a famous street photographer. Who would it be? 
There are so many I would love to do a photowalk with. - such a hard choice.  Dan Ginn recently asked this question on Facebook.  My answer: Michelle Groskopf.


Julia is teaching a workshop "Getting Closer" at Street Photo Milan Thursday May 3 - from 2 to 6 pm. Get more infos clicking here.



Sara Medghalchi | Tehran, Iran

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Hello Sara, thanks a lot for your submission. I am very excited - you are the first photographer from the Middle East who submitted work! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Thank you for giving me the chance to have a voice and share my work. I am 29 and live in Tehran, the capital city of Iran. I have a BA in English Literature and MA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. I have been an English teacher and teacher trainer for more than 10 years. I love learning new languages, travelling, reading and taking long walks. 

When did you become interested in photography as a mode of expression? 
I started Photography as a serious hobby about 4 years ago. I try to do different kinds of photography, but mainly I focus upon street photography. I believe photography is one of the purest ways of expressing myself.

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What fascinates you about photography?
Photography to me is opening conversations and raising questions. It’s a never ending challenge. As I shoot, I take a moment of silence and stay in that very moment. I chose photography to appreciate the present time, document life as it happens and make history. What I call my reality which is different from yours and everyone. That’s what’s so fascinating! One image and multiple interpretations. As Vivian Maier, one of my favorite photographers said , “We have to make room for other people. It's a wheel. You get on. You go to the end. And someone else has the same opportunity to go to the end. And so on. And somebody else takes their place.” 

Let’s talk about your submitted project “Stories of a Generation". Can you tell us something about the project and how did the idea came up?
I take photographs to tell a story. The story that has multiple voices. The ‘Stories of a Generation’ is a personal one documented. It’s the story of an abandoned house in an old region in East Azerbaijan Province, in northwestern Iran, where I am originally from. The house itself has witnessed many stories. Some happy endings and some not so!

I didn't know how attached I was to the house till I was about to detach. Fear of loss! It was then when I decided to walk into the house and take a closer look, explore and picture all the details so that I won’t ever forget. The house was the only proof that I had existed then. I have always been a fan of 'History’. My very own version of history.

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What was your creative process when you worked on the project?
Well, I had travelled to the city many times and had short visits. When I was sure I was going to work on the project I had to prepare myself and spent hours wandering in the house. There were places that were significant and I had to shoot them. Then I had to wait for the perfect illumination to happen. Once you have the idea you’re waiting for that very moment to appear and hope that you’re not too late. And then Click! A lot of unexpected things happened since the house was old. And this was the challenge and excitement about the project, being responsive to whatever happened.

 “Stories of a Generation" is a very personal project and a document of your memories , but also a fragment of our time we live in. What happened to the house now, and how do you feel about it?
That is so true. The house is destroyed and nothing is left. As I mentioned earlier I am a big fan of documenting my own version of what goes on around me. We can not deny the fact that there’s an end to everything and one day we all are left alone. These images are bitter sweet reminders that nothing can fill the emptiness of loneliness. That modern life is lonely. The houses are gone, the stories of many generations are gone. What is the meaning of life these days?

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The pictures are very well composed and have a very minimalistic cinematic look - in kind of a peaceful mood. How did you cultivate your sense of composition?
For these very specific series, I had thought about the composition beforehand, so I had to figure out a way to make the abstract ideas relate to one another. I think what is composed in the pictures is the result of the photographs I see, the movies I watch, the books I read, my imagination and some years of practice. 

Is there any photographer who has influenced you as a person or your work?
There are many photographers who I admire like Henri Cartier-BressonAnsel AdamsSteve McCcurryJames Nachtwey, Reza Deghati and Vivian Maier. I am also very impressed by Roger Ballen’s photography.

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Tell us a little bit about the photography scene in Iran. Are there any female photographers you could recommend?
I think as long as there is a camera and a person behind it, there’s an identity talking through a photograph. Like anywhere around the world there are great photographers in Iran who inspire the world and make a change. Nothing can stop a photographer. No rules and regulations and no limitations.

There are many outstanding female photographers. Here are a few names; Maryam Zandi, Gohar Dashti, Shadi Ghadirian, Tahmineh Monavi and Niewsha Tavakolian.

What are your next plans and projects?
To me photography is journey with no destination. I am learning everyday.

I have some ongoing projects that I am not sure if they will ever finish. I’m currently working on a project called ‘Life & Shadows’ through which I’m telling stories of common people who are left alone and shaded.

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Here you can find more of Sara's work:

Instagram: saramedghalchi
Facebook: saramedghalchi

Zoë Sim | London / Brighton

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Hello Zoë, thanks for submitting your work. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thank you for this opportunity to share my work. I am currently in my final year of studying Fine Art at Chelsea College of Arts in London, which I love. The last few years of studying have been life changing and I have been able to find my voice, after years of anxiety.

I am originally from Brighton and I am also half French. I have always been creative, which was encouraged at the Waldorf Steiner School I attended throughout my childhood. After I graduate I plan to become a practicing artist and I hope to have a creative career. 

When did you first become interested in photography as a mode of expression?
I have been working with photography for a few years, in the past to document installations and create self-portraits, but it was not a serious part of my practice until I discovered infrared photography. It has now grown into a passion to learn how to work with the medium from digital to film photography. When I first saw Richard Mosse’s images I was overcome with a need to use this infrared, and since then I have approached it from many angles. It wasn’t until then that I truly connected with photography, and it has now become my main focus. 


You are studying fine art at the famous Chelsea College of Arts in London. What is the most important thing that you have learnt about fine art photography during your studies?
Because I am studying Fine Art it has been a liberating experience as there has been less focus on technique and more focus on ideas and inspirations for my photographs. I was supported in my slow journey to learning how to work with different cameras and the editing process involved with infrared, and I have been able to approach it in less serious manner. Because of the wide range of facilities I have been able to consider how I want my work to be displayed by building my own light boxes and printing on textiles. Therefore for me the most important part of fine art photography is the context of the work. 

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During your studies your practice has involved exploring the color pink in different mediums and themes. It seems that this had a deep influence in your work? 
Pink has been a primary theme throughout my work for many years. Originating from an exploration of feminist ideas around reclaiming the colour from its many negative stereotypes in connection to femininity and ‘girlyness’. Pink is one of the least used colours within art, and I am interested in why that is and what meanings it triggers in people. I have found people have strong opinions or reactions to pink, and I enjoy this affect.

It started as a reaction, with a need to examine the cause of why pink had such strong associations, and why I felt ashamed of liking it. Yet overtime I became obsessed with pink and I have since explored it in many ways. It has grown much bigger then its stereotypes, for me it has become a way to express myself. Pink has become part of my artistic persona ‘Mz Pink’ which I use to help me overcome my anxiety; I am able to be confident because pink makes me feel empowered.

My work has used pink conceptually and also purely as a colour, there has been no limit to how I have used it. I feel with every project I have found something new to say with it, and it has evolved overtime. 

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Let’s talk about your submitted landscape photographs. First of all congratulation for theses unique compositions! The images are kind of a pink dreamlike world. How did you come up with the idea?
Through my explorations of pink I wanted to be able to create a utopia of some sorts, a pink dreamscape. Pink for me is a calm colour and I wanted to create a space void from reality, and the harshness of life. I am pulled towards the idea of creating immersive images that can envelop the viewer, creating an alternative universe. The subconscious aesthetics of pink play an important role in these images, and I am interested in the automatic responses to the colour from the audience. 

I have become fascinated by nature, in finding a way to transition my ideas around pink to a surreal and natural space. A way to discover the abilities of pink to change a subject and separate it from its associations. Nature is an important part of infrared photography because it is the green that becomes pink. Therefore I have been documenting every walk in the countryside, in the hope of finding a vast beautiful landscape. 

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You used digital infrared photography. Do you think digital photography gives you more possibilities to express your art?
With this series I found using digital photography gave me the possibility to capture vast landscapes in panoramic shots. My converted camera is actually quite low resolution so I took about 40 images for each location and stitched them together so that I could create high quality images. The process of editing my photographs afterwards is a part I have come to enjoy because each image is a surprise like with film. Digital photography has so much potential to be manipulated; and I like to enhance the artificiality of it somehow. 

Do you have a special workflow, when you start with a project?
I tend to work in two ways, either I go out and just take pictures and I don’t think I just do, but then there is the other part where I plan an idea for a long time thinking about the way I want to do it. 

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Is there a photographer, which has influenced your thinking and photography? 
Richard Mosse has definitely influenced me by showing me this medium, but he has also made me want to reclaim the medium from such a problematic context. His beautification of war has made me want to explore why pink has this affect on serious situations, and it has motivated me to explore this medium. 

I have also been inspired by photographers such as Juno Calypso and Signe Pierce who have made me reconsider aesthetics and the role of beauty in photography. They both incorporate feminine stereotypes into their work, and they are also unafraid to work with pink.

How do you see your photography evolving over the next years?
I feel that overtime as I gain more skills, I will move more towards film photography, hopefully large format. I want to be able to work large-scale, filling entire spaces with huge pictures. I want to work more with how my photography is presented so that they can create an entire world of their own. I also want to continue exploring the boundaries of infrared and attempt to take it somewhere new. 

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Becky Frances | London

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Hello Becky, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how did you get involved into street photography?
I've always been drawn to photographing people and I started off taking portraits of people I knew in an urban environment. After a while I began to take photographs of people on the street, not really knowing about the genre of street photography.  I joined Flickr and learnt a lot from the community there, people were really generous with their advice and they helped me to grow and develop the confidence to push myself out of my comfort zone to take better shots.

What drives you to pick up a camera and hit the streets?
I love to take photographs and I love the city I live in, so I feel privileged to be able to grab my camera whenever I feel like it and wander the streets for as long as I want. I've also had a long struggle with depression and being able to get out and about with my camera helps me to combat that.

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What are you looking for when you go out into the streets and shoot ?
When I go out to shoot I'm looking for different things depending on the weather.  If the light is good, I'm looking for scenes that show this - clever work with shadows is one of my favourite things. If the light is flat and grey, I look for interesting people or interesting situations. I look for linking colours or patterns in a scene or for humour (which to me is the most difficult kind of shot to get and something I find very rewarding).

Is there a favorite place in London where you like shooting? 
If I'm shooting on a weekday I like to head towards Central London.  I walk from Trafalgar Square, through Chinatown and up into Soho. These areas are all busy and vibrant.  If I go out at the weekend, I like to go to East London. There is a flower market it Bethnal Green on a Sunday and you can walk from there to Brick Lane which has a market on. They are both busy and there is a lot going on. Sometimes I stop in Stamford Hill on the way back home which is the centre of London's Jewish community.


Are you more of a walk and watch or a wait and see kind of street photographer?
I'm always moving around when I take pictures. I rarely stop even to shoot. Sometimes though, I will see a scene that needs something to complete it and then I'll wait around to see if the magic happens.

How do you deal with confrontation when shooting on the street?
Confrontation is the worst thing, its never nice when people are aggressive with you. If I can move away from the situation before it gets to the point of confrontation I will but if people start shouting or demanding I delete their photos I will normally humour them.  I'm usually on my own and I wouldnt argue to the point of fighting - its not worth it.

What do you find is the hardest challenge when taking pictures?
The hardest thing for me is confidence, some days im the most confident person in the world and the next day I find it difficult to leave my house.  I push myself to keep shooting during these times but it is difficult.  When you're pointing your camera at people, you risk confrontation and that can be scary.

What's your favorite focal lengths and can you explain us why? 
I use a 27mm lens, it means that to zoom I have to use my feet and get closer to people.  As a result its easier to take photos that land you right in the middle of the action which is what Im aiming for.


Is there a photographer or type of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?
My Dad bought me a book by Martin Parr years ago and it made me want to pick up a camera and photograph people. I love the quirky Englishness of his work although I dont think my photographs are anything like his.  If it wasn't for him I probably wouldn't be a photographer now.

If you had the chance to go on a photowalk with a famous street photographer. Who would it be? 
I would probably pick Joel Meyerowitz because I love how he photographs New York. He's constantly on the move and can see how a scene will look in a photograph in a split second.  He's very clever...

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Emily Garthwaite | London


Emily Garthwaite is a 24-year-old British photojournalist and street photographer with a focus on humanitarian and environmental stories. She recently co-directed her first documentary in Iraq on Arba’een, the world's largest annual pilgrimage - attracting over 25 million Shia Muslim pilgrims. In 2018, the Iraq series and documentary are being exhibited in London, France, Italy, and Iran.

Emily graduated with a Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from the University of Westminster in late 2016. Her photographs have been featured internationally including her image "Chained to Tradition" selected as a Finalist for Finalist for Wildlife Photographer of The Year in the Photojournalism category.

She is a Member of Street Photography International, a collective of four street photographers who formed with the aim to promote the best Street Photography from around the world. SPi is currently Instagram's fastest growing account for the genre with over 400,000 followers and reaching over 10 million people per month. Street Photography International launched The Street Awards and currently run international Street Photography workshops.


When and why did you become a photographer?

I picked up a camera at the age of 15 and had fun with it. At that point, it was about exploration and researching photographers and painters. I didn't push for a career on photojournalism until a couple of years ago.


You submitted incredible work shot in India. What encouraged you to start a project on India?

I have travelled to India three times over the past few years. The first was to scatter my grandmother’s ashes, during the second I travelled for six months on my own, and I spent my most recent trip with my partner.

India is a country that is, at times, incredibly challenging and I’ve always believed that it’s because of that I’ve continued to return. A Portrait of India is a long-term series that examines daily life and rituals across India. 

Walking the streets of a city alone with a camera is a meditation for me. Indian cities are paradoxical environments, allowing everyday scenes to become extraordinary. I always wait for eye contact with a passerby, sometimes it never happens, but the beauty of street life in cities is that the next photo is only moments away.

What is/was your most important project and why?

Most recently I visited Iraq with an Iranian documentary film crew. I was photographing Arba'een, the world's largest annual pilgrimage that attracts 25 million Shia Muslims a year. It encompassed everything I have worked towards over the past couple of years, and I was proud to have been selected as the main subject. I will be exhibiting the work next year and wish to open up a dialogue as to why there is a media blackout surrounding the pilgrimage.


What does photography means to you?
Photography has allowed me to travel the world, meet new people and create art from everyday life.


Irene Bel | Barcelona


Hello Irene, thanks for submitting your work. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in Barcelona, my home town. I believe that where you are born and grown up determines, in some way, who you are. Since my youth, I wanted to travel and discover others countries to understand more about cultures, beyond my own. 

My love to nature is very strong. My big passion are horses, where I developed a way to interact with them. Some of my photos with horses won prizes and being published in magazines.

When did you first become interested in photography as a mode of expression?
The first time I became aware of photography was when I had to stay at full rest, for several weeks.  It was during that period, that I began to take pictures of myself. After that, I began to work on self-portraits as a form of expression, recovery and analysis. At the same time, photography became a companion in the resting hours. Since then, the camera has become my best partner. When someone asks me if I feel alone when traveling, I usually think that I do not travel alone, I travel with my camera.


Did you have any formal education in photography or are you self-taught?
I studied photography for three years. I was lucky to learn photography before digital photography became “boss”. I had the opportunity to learn the whole photographic process and the alchemy that was hidden behind it. I learned to photograph in black and white and how to interpret lights, zones, etc. Since then, I have always felt more comfortable shooting in black and white. But I must admit that there are photos that claim for color.

Let’s talk about your submitted project “In our nature". Can you tell us a bit about it? How did the idea come up for this project?
When being out in the woods, surrounded by nature, I became aware of how disconnected we have become to mother earth. During my walks and riding, I felt the need to merge with nature and that’s what I did.  “ In our nature” explores the relationship between the body and environment.


Can you describe the process when you started with the “In our nature“ project? 
When you become aware of the presence of nature as a whole - the body starts to merge into the space and be a part of the whole environment. Shapes and angles of the human body start to look softer. The focus is set completely on the natural way a human body can bend and be captured in the landscape. I tried to take away the perceptions of the body when it comes to sexuality and nudity. I don't want to create tension or desire in the picture. I prefer to offer tranquility and peace to the viewers. Specially nowadays that we are into a very sexualized culture. 


The pictures are very well composed. Minimalistic - in kind of a peaceful mood. How did you cultivate your sense of composition?
Composition is the key of photography. I've always thought that photographers should look for an image that crosses from the aesthetic or narrative side. But it is also important to pay attention to composition, because it is crucial reading the image. It will give you a unique point of view and that is what the photographer wants to describes behind the camera. 

Composition is so important; that’s why I always try to explore different artists from other media to search of new points of view.


What is the most challenging for you about photography?
Photography, especially documentary photography gives me the opportunity to see the world and get in touch with people in a very intimate way. Photography is about learning the meaning of empathy - a difficult sensibility to acquire. I’m very grateful for that. At the same time I have to learn how to connect and become a witness of their lives and personal situations.


Final question. Is there any female photographer you admire?
When I started to work with the body as a way of expression, I became very interested in Francesca Woodman’s work. A few months ago I had the opportunity to see her work in the Bernal Espacio Galería in Madrid. She still inspires me. Especially when I need to work on more poetics projects in the future.
My absolute admiration is for those brave women, like Alixandra Fazzina, who is able to tell stories in the most difficult social and geographical environments. Fazzina has the ability to photograph without losing the compassion and empathy towards those who are suffering. Quiet and strong images that transfer the atmospheres of the scenario.


Instagram: irenebel_photography 
Facebook: IreneBelPhoto

Birgit Krippner | Wellington, New Zealand

Brigit Krippner is an award winning photographer, born in Austria and has lived in New Zealand since 2003. Her specialty is capturing candid images using only available light. She has exhibited internationally and her works have been published in media like New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NZ Life & Leisure Magazine and many more. 

In 2015, Birgit was the recipient of the Team Lee Award for photojournalism, at the Missouri photo Workshop in Perryville, with her project 'Unexpect the Expected', Small Town Cop. In 2011, Birgit won an award at Grand Prix Terroirs d'images in Paris, France.


Hello Birgit, thanks a lot for getting in touch with Women in Photography. Can you tell a bit about yourself and how you got into photography?

Hello Nicole. Since childhood, photography has been a big part of me. I am dyslexic, and expressing myself in visual ways seems to be natural to me, maybe the best way for me to communicate.  As much as I have an extroverted side, I really see myself as an Introvert and as a loner. Being on road trips on my own, traveling to exotic places and putting myself outside my comfort szone are elements which my camera is able to capture. This helps my friends, family and audience to understand me better. It helps me to understand myself better.

After finishing a master degree in Graphic Design, I started working at a design studio in Vienna. Soon I realized that this is not where my passion is, and still, I continued working as a graphic designer some more years. In 1995 I moved to NYC where more and more I picked up my camera to photograph my surroundings. When I moved to New Zealand in 2003, that was when I started needing my camera, relying on it, and when I started developing my own voice by making pictures. About nine years ago it was, that I first used the words ‘I am a photographer’. This was a milestone. About at the same time I designed my own website for photography, and I manage having my first solo exhibition in Wellington at Photospace Gallery. One thing lead to another and over years I became a photographer. 


What does photography mean to you?

This is a big question, since it is not one thing that photography means to me. There are many different photographers out there who approach their photography from all kinds of angles. A lot of their work does not speak to me. When photography starts crossing boundaries, maybe by breaking rules - then chances are, that I will start paying attention to it. Some people are amazing photo journalists, which I very much respect and appreciate. And some of those photo journalists become superb in showing different dimensions to their pictures. Removing oneself from being too literal, showing poetry in your images and becoming figuratively, that is what I am striving with my photos.

You submitted photos of your latest project called „Smitty“. Can you tell us something about the project and how did the idea came up?

In October 2017 I was accepted to Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey’s photo workshop in Brooklyn, NY. About six months before that, I was introduced to Smitty and thought that he would be a person who I would enjoy getting to know better, and to photograph. One thing led to another, and Smitty opened up his doors to me. He welcomed me into his world as a musician, as a man who is passionate about all he does. I put a lot of time, thoughts and emotions into this project and the feedback which I have receive really was mind-blowing. A lot of positive comments from people around the world.


What is your creative process when you work on a project, like „Smitty“? 

It all starts with a conversation. At the beginning I don’t introduce my camera to my subject. I find it important, getting an understanding of who the person is, who I am about to photograph. Equally important it is, that my subject gets an understanding of who I am. Only then, my subject and I can start our calibration together. Smitty and I became friends during this process, which not only brings an assignment to a different level, it actually exceeded what I was hoping for, and the photos seem to reflect this curious and positive feeling. 

When you plan a new project. What are you looking for? 

More often then not, a new project is approaching me, not the other way around. How I live my life, being open minded, challenging my comfort zone, and stepping into the unknown and excotic only makes curious situations come to me. My projects get me excited. It can be almost anything that gets my attention, but photographing people definitely is what I enjoy most. I love capturing low light situation, especially twilight/low light. This means that my camera is constantly on its limit. Aperture fully open, ISO on as high as bearable, and shutter speed on as long as my hand allows without creating shakiness. 


You shoot with Leica cameras using only available light, which gives your photos a fantastic cinematic look. Can you tell us something about your post processing ? 

Thank you for your kind comment on the cinematic look of my photos. For post processing I have been using Adobe Lightroom for many years. I used to convert my pictures to B&W, which I found Silver Efex Pro 2 works really well. Over the last couple of years I have been confronting color photography. I vey much enjoy this change, but saying so, I find color photography more difficult to make it work, than if in B&W. My specialty is low light, twilight, photography. In Lightroom I make sure that the different light sources which I show in photos go well with each other, and that the white balance reflects in a way how I want it to be seen. I might bring out the contrast. On of the world’s best photo editors told me four years ago, that I should not crop my photos. I took his advice and hardly crop my pictures at all. 


Besides your work as a photographer, you are the judge for the international „I-shot-it“ photo award. What are you looking for when you judge work from other artists?

Sometimes a photographer submits a photo to the I-Shot-It competition, which breaks the rules in a way that is difficult to put into words. I find it important that a good photographer is aware of rules, which need to be followed in photography. Only then, a good photographer can become a great  (or even exceptional) photographer. This can happen in breaking rules of photography. Framing, seeing light, being sensitive of what you photograph, how you want to show it, and also post production. These are all elements which are which are extremely important to create a potential good photo. The bottom line is, there is no formula on how to become a good photographer. My thoughts on this are, follow your heart, keep all your senses open, and have your camera with you as much as possible.



The photography industry has changed a lot over the past years. What advice would you give female photographers who want to start a career into photojournalism?

I am not sure if I’d be a good person to give ‘advice’ on this, but I would like to share some of my insight. I find it important to be as much informed about other photographers in the industry as possible. To be aware of which photo projects have been done in the past, and who is the photographer who did that project best. If you decide on repeating a project which was done by someone else in the past anyway, make sure that you have your own way how to do this. Create your own voice and style as a photographer. Be authentic. Get strong in your vision and don’t give up easily. Believe in yourself, surround  yourself by photographers who you look up to, and share your work with them for critique. Be honest to yourself and be honest to others. Honesty will reflect in your work.


Next year you will give a 2 day workshop on Smartphone Photography in NYC.  What can your students expect from this workshop?

I am rather excited about running this Two-Day-Smartphone workshop in NYC! This workshop on Smartphone photography will be the first of its kind, which I will give. I am looking forward to it since there is so much to be forwarded. With today’s high end smartphone cameras, a photographer can shoot the cover of a magazine without a professional camera needed. And this is happening! It does not show anymore, if a good photographer shoots with a smartphone or a ‘real’ camera. This line is getting thinner, and smartphone photographer is only getting stronger in the future. I have been asked to consider running a workshop in smartphone photography, so I will give it a try. If people will sign up, I might use this model in different cities and countries. 


Tell us a little bit about the photography scene in New Zealand. Are there any female photographers you could recommend?

New Zealand has a vibrant scene of art, photo journalism and all kinds of photographers. One of my favorites is John Crawford, whose work I find superb. John covers a lot of social issues and he has a poetic approach in how he shows his work. When it comes to female photographers, I very much enjoy Lottie Hedley’s work, especially her photo project on Curling in New Zealand. There is a playfulness to this assignment of Lottie, and how she uses color I find rather special. Lottie is based in Auckland. Fiona Pardington, Yvonne Todd, Marti Friedlander, and Ans Westra are wonderful and influential female photographers, who are living in New Zealand.



Catherine Losing  |  London


Hello Catherine, thanks for submitting your work to Women in Photography. Can you tell our readers a little bit about you and how you got into photography?
I’m a photographer and director, originally from The Isle of Axholme, UK but now based in London. I studied photography from the age of 16 at John Leggett College and after I graduated from Nottingham Trent University I moved down here to assist professional photographers. I’ve been shooting my own work exclusively for about 5 years now. I shoot personal projects, editorials, advertising and TV ads. They are usually based in still life.

You are a still life photographer - what fascinates you about this genre?
To be honest, I first got into still life photography because I preferred the pace of it. I was assisting a lot of fashion and music photographers. The shoots were always really hectic and involved huge crews. For my personal projects, I much preferred working with a small team and using objects and sets to portray themes and ideas.   


Your work is very colourful with a unique style … How did you cultivate your sense of composition?
I like things looking clean and graphic. My boyfriend has a theory it’s because I grew up in the Lincolnshire fens where the landscape is extremely flat and linear! I get a lot of satisfaction out of planning and shooting interesting colour combinations. It’s always the colours that catch my eye when looking at other people’s artwork.  


You have worked for Vogue, Lacoste, Moma, just a few to mention… There are many people involved in a photo shoot like this. Can you tell us a bit about your workflow? 
Magazines, advertising agencies or sometimes even clients directly, get in touch with myself or my agent. They generally have a specific project in mind and I go away and I create a treatment in response to their brief. In the meantime, my agent puts together a team and a budget. For commercial work it is normally a 3-way bid, meaning I’m one of 3 photographers or directors up for the job. If the costs and my vision for approaching their project all add up then they will present me to the client or brand. If we’re lucky enough to win the bid, we go into production. A producer is assigned to the job by my agency and we put everything in place; set designers, assistants or DOPs, technical teams, equipment, studios, post production or retouchers, food stylists, fashion stylists and cast any people that might feature. The whole time we’ll be feeding back to the clients on the progress and decisions we’re making. The shoot is almost the smallest part of a big commercial job!    


Do you have enough artistic freedom on a shoot for brands?
It changes from project to project. Some get in touch and want me to just run with an idea and create images in my own style. But some people have a very specific list of requirements and deliverables, even down to the colours we include and the crops of the images down to the nearest pixel.   


Many photographers don’t have any idea how long the process of a commercial photo shoot is. Can you tell us more about it?
It varies hugely. Sometimes I have 2 days notice for an editorial. I make a quick mood board for the Art Director and then it’s just me and an assistant shooting in my studio, the photos go straight to a retoucher and then onto the magazine in a matter of hours. With larger projects, the time between an initial meeting with an ad agency though to the work being published can be up to 18 months and involve lots of people sometimes up to around 50 on large ad campaigns. Both ends of the spectrum are exciting in their own way.  


What advice would you give female photographers who want to get into commercial photography? 
Assist! It’s really hard to comprehend the work that goes on behind the scenes without being involved or seeing it for yourself. It is the best way to build up contacts, most of the people I collaborate with today used to assist the set designers and stylists that worked with the photographers I worked for. Also if someone tries to pigeonhole you because you’re a woman, don’t feel like you have to prove them wrong or prove yourself above and beyond a role, that person is a dinosaur that won’t change, there’s no time for them and you’ll be better off working with someone else. Opportunities are definitely getting better for women in photography, you don’t have to put up with people being sexist dicks anymore.  

Besides photography, you work as a filmmaker. What was the key trigger for this?
I’m signed to Blink Art, who are a branch of Blink Productions who have a massive reputation for fun TV ads and music videos. A lot of commercial jobs now aren’t just photographs, they want gifs, animations or films for social media and video billboards. I’m lucky enough that with Blink it just feels like a natural part of my photography practice. 

Last question! Do you have a dream project or brand you wanna shoot?
Lots and lots! But first I definitely want to get some more personal projects off my chest after such a busy couple of years of commercial work. My recent commission from MoMA for their ‘Is Fashion Modern?’ show was an absolute dream job that I could never have dreamt up! I think sometimes the best projects find you. 

‘Is Fashion Modern?’

‘Is Fashion Modern?’

Sarah M. Lee | London


Sarah studied English Literature at University College London (UCL) in the late 1990s and trained herself as a photographer.

In 2000 she was offered a freelance position at the Guardian and has continued to work for the Guardian and Observer ever since. Sarah is specialized in portraiture, features and the Arts and interested in all photography that focuses on people.

In 2011-2012, she shot most of the commercial portraits to accompany Coldplay’s MX album and tour. Her work has appeared in many publications and places, including the covers of TIME magazine, Billboard, Rolling Stone, The Sunday Times, Intelligent Life and Vanity Fair. She’s also an official BAFTA Photographer and an official Ambassador for Leica Camera. 


Hello Sarah, I admire your portrait work a lot and so it’s a huge pleasure to interview you for Women in Photography. You actually studied English Literature. What has finally brought you into photography?
I came to photography relatively late in that I was given a camera for my 18th birthday, a Pentax K1000 with a 50mm 1.6 lens. I didn’t have a specific interest in photography until this point but once I’d learned how to use the camera I became quite obsessed. Unfortunately, film and developing film was quite expensive and I was a student with an extremely limited budget. So my opportunities for learning and developing my new skill were frustrating limited. Fortunately, someone, I can’t remember who but I’m forever grateful to them let me in on the secret that if I started working for the student newspaper I’d have an unlimited supply of film and access to a dark room with printing materials. What I couldn’t have known was that the student paper in question was being picture edited by Abbie Trayler-Smith and other photographers on its roster included Ed Alcock, Dom Tyler and Christophe Tweedie so it was an unbelievable hothouse. Not just a place to learn, not just to print (which I did) but also to grow and develop as a photographer. In effect, it was a second university experience running in parallel with the literature degree I was also doing. Unquestionably I “graduated” from this experience into the career I now have in that it was the Guardian student media awards which introduced me to the Guardian’s then picture editor Eamon McCabe, who on the strength of the portrait I’d taken of the novelist Iris Murdoch, offered me a job. 


Was it clear for you that your work would focus on portrait photography?
Yes, if it doesn’t sound horribly pompous I’ve always been interested in the long tradition of humanist photography. I’m interested in people. I like people. It would never have occurred to me to have a career that didn’t involve portraiture. That would be unthinkable to me. 

What is a good portrait photo for you?
To me a “good portrait” is one which is honest. One where there is obviously a honest connection with the sitter. Obviously composition, light use of colour [or if you’re working in black and white; texture and tone] matter enormously but all these things, in my opinion are to be used by the photographer to service the emotional connection with the subject and to capture that moment of honesty. Without that all the technical brilliance in the world is meaningless and a “portrait” just becomes an advertising image. But where those things work together you have incredible magic. Think for example of the famous Arnold Newman portrait of Stravinsky - one of my favourites that I hope illustrates what I’ve been trying, slightly clumsily, to say. But also there is something very deceptive about the simplicity of some the best portraits there seems to be so little to them, but it’s all in the incredible understanding between the photographer and the subject and the photorapher's skill in knowing exactly how to capture that. Think how powerful Wolfgang Tilmans portraits are, but how bad so many of the imitations of them are! I’m in danger of waffling, but put as simply as I can: good portraiture is entirely dependent on honest and emotional connection. Without that all else is lost.


Let's talk about your latest project called „Tender are the Nighthawks“. Can you tell us something about it? 
“Tender are the Nighthawks” is a new series I’ve been working on mostly though not entirely exclusively in Camden and North London where I live. The title gives clues to my inspiration for this project in that it references both Keats “Ode to a Nightingale” and Edward Hopper and I’m trying I suppose to capture that strangely specific still point in the turning world between the very late night and the early morning when the city is at it’s quietest and the very very last stragglers are coming home from their night outs alongside the workers who have to get to work just before the dawn. I love the way the bus system in London is so democratic, used by everyone. All classes, all ages all socio-economic groups and races of people. It’s cheap and crisscrosses the entire city. I’m interested in tone and mood, and looking for the things that unite us, moments I suppose that emphasise our shared humanity, in a city that is hard to live in. Moments of tender melancholy are what I most hope to catch. I’m not sure I always manage that, but it’s what I’m trying to do. 


The pictures of „Tender are the Nighthawks“ are very powerful and intimate. Each picture tells their own story. It must have been very difficult to shoot in a bus or from the outside without being recognized. Can you reveal us some insights how you did that?   
For a photographer, buses can be a bit of a gift in that they tend to be lit on the inside in a way that to my eye can make them seem like moving Hoppereque diner windows, each one with a vignette or framed tableaux of city-dwellers absorbed living their lives. And thank god in Britain we have entirely opaque bus windows unlike in many other countries where the glass is darkened to combat the effects of the bright sun - not a problem we face that often! Though I’ve discovered the 88 Bus is hopeless for this project, the lighting just doesn’t work, the shadows it creates are all wrong, my heart sinks when I see it approach... In terms of working candidly, that does create its own issues. I’ve shot all this work on a Leica M Rangefinder with a 50mm lens usually open at f1.4 or f2 in very low light. This means I have to be pretty accurate with my focusing. There can be no ‘shooting from the hip’ secret guesstimating with my framing or focusing. This can be challenging when you are trying to be discrete at 3 am at a bus stop…. So far I’ve got away with it. I very much subscribe to the asking for forgiveness rather than permission school of candid documentary photography. I do often explain what I’m up to after the fact if I’m spotted and someone says something. There is no point being confrontational as a woman alone on the street in the middle of the night [carrying an expensive camera]. Often sympathetic eye contact and apologetic smiles help me get away with it... Also at that hour my subjects have been drinking and aren’t that sharp or aware of their surroundings/ sneaky photographers which can help me too... Technically I find focussing on something very near the subject when they aren’t looking gives me a head start for speed so that I can be quick on the rangefinder when I do want to focus, so I will often blatantly focus on their shoes and then when I feel ready to reframe more boldly…  


Was there a certain „trigger“ to start „Tender are the Nighthawks“?
One of the first photography books I ever bought was Tom Wood’s phenomenal “Bus Odyssey” and it certainly sparked an interest in photographing on Buses. I also love Bob Mazzar and Nick Turpin’s recent work though I very much hope this doesn’t feel derivative. Personally I feel the buses are big enough for all of us and there are much more people out there being inspired by them all the time... It has always felt like a series I’d like to do to be honest since I started living in London, it was just a matter of when rather than “if”.. I can’t quite remember what started me off, but I call it “prowling” now and I’m very much in the middle of this series now, I definitely haven’t got it out of my system yet.

Besides your personal projects, you work as a photographer for the Guardian. What advice would you give young female photographers who want to start a career as a photojournalist or in the publishing business?  
Oh god, the hardest question of all! The industry has changed so much [and not really for the better] since I started 18 years ago. Pictures seem to have been devalued. Clients pay less for photography. There is the dreadful culture of “exposure” etc. What I would definitely advise for women starting out is an extension of what I’d advise anyone, and that is to always try and remember the value of your work. Do never work for free, or for exposure. If someone wants you to work for them then they want YOU and your work, they will also, as a rule, be willing to pay [even though they may try to claim otherwise]. I’m not for a moment suggesting money matters more than art. But knowing your work has a value is very psychologically important and it is also extremely important if like me, and like many other photographers, you don’t have a private income. Because if you don’t earn from your work you quickly stop being able to work as a photographer. And following on from this I would say for women don’t be afraid at calling out sexism where you see it, or the sort of everyday discrepancies that shouldn’t be there but are. It can be hard at the start of a career to do this, but if you do it when you see it and feel it I think it sets a tone about who you are and how you yourself would like to be treated. Also, and this applies to all photographers, use whatever works for you TO WORK for you. I’m always amazed when I see other photographers work because I just couldn’t do what they do. I can only really do what I do. But that’s ok, I’m me and I’m trying to learn and improve all the time as me. But it took me the best part of 15 years to be ok with this. I spent FAR too long being hung up that I wasn’t all the other people I admire or am in awe of. That way madness, and, worse, lack of authenticity lies. 


How do you prepare yourself when you are on an assignment, for example, a portrait shoot? How important is the atmosphere between yourself and your subject? Do you give your subject any direction? 
I approach every shoot differently. I prefer a loose approach and to try and respond to each situation organically and be open to each shoot as it unfolds rather than come with an idea of how it will be. And yes, the atmosphere between myself and the subject is HUGELY important!! I try everything I can to make that work. It doesn’t always happen, but as a rule I find I enjoy meeting and being with pretty much all types of people and find that aspect of this job an enormous privilege. Hopefully, that comes across and makes that atmosphere a bit smoother to start with. Though as I said there has been the odd personality clash and then it’s made the resulting shoot nothing but painful! 

Is there any photographer who has influenced you as a person or your work?
God, too many to name. I hesitate to say anyone’s influences my work because I wouldn’t dream of saying the names of the people I admire alongside my own work. I bloody wish my work showed their influence. But in no particular order, and no doubt missing several important names off this list, here are some of the photographers who are always top of my list:  William Eggleston,  Saul Letter,  Cartier-Breson, Vivian Maier, Stephen Shore, Polly Borland, Jillian Edlestein,  Jane Bown, Helmut Newton, Tim Walker, David Hurn, Martin Parr, Sean Smith, Abbie Trayler-Smith, Laura Pannack… Actually, the list goes on. This is an impossible question. Thank the gods. 

Final question! When you need to choose one of your favourite pictures you took. Which would it be and can you explain to us why?
I’m not sure I’ve taken it yet. But of what I’ve done so far. It may be my first proper published portrait. The one I took of Iris Murdoch back when I was both a student and a student photographer. She is still my favourite novelist, and one of the people I’m most delighted to have met. But, it is also a portrait that literally changed the course of my life. I may well have stayed an amateur photographer and had my life go in an entirely different direction had Eamon McCabe not seen it and made an impulsive on the spot decision to offer me a job. From that my entire adult and creative life has unfolded. Something for which I shall always be entirely, endlessly, grateful. 


Andrea Torrei | Rome, Italy


Hello, Andrea tell us something about yourself and how you got into photography?
My passion for photography started in my childhood. I remember all the magazines laying around in our house. They were full of photographs - long reportages about wars, political and social fights and travel photographs, countries which I dreamt about to visit once I would be a grown-up. 

I grew up in the 70s and 80s in Rome, Italy. It wasn’t an easy time. „La dolce vita“ was gone. Kidnapping and murders occurred often along with political turmoils while the Catholic church entered our private lives. During that time I travelled a lot around Italy and was able to observe workers on strike and women who fought for their rights. All these memories shaped me very much as a person. Anyway, I can say photography shaped my path, my choices of studies and work. I have graduated in Political Science and worked in the social field for many years.


Have you ever dreamed about to become a photographer? 
Well, I have never dreamed about being a photographer. It was more a coincidence. There was a time I didn’t have a job, there was the economic crises and the world turned upside down. This was the start for me to grab a second hand camera and start shooting. I took the camera with me all day long, even in the supermarket. One came to another -  books, visiting exhibitions and workshops made my passion for photography grow.

When you started with photography, you tried different genres. Finally, street and reportage photography are your favorite type of expression. Can you explain us why?
Yes, I started trying different genres and I am very happy I did.  For example landscape and macro photography helped me a lot to understand light, colors and details. But the results of my work never convinced me to get more into details. Street and documentary photography were the unavoidable conclusion. 

But I have to say, that I don’t express myself through this genres. I feel very comfortable walking the streets and connect with people and strangers. I enjoy to capture their stories with my camera. This is a journey and a search of who I am. With time I started to understand that it doesn’t matter to come back with a good picture. It’s more about the good experiences that go along with them.


You submitted a series you recently shot in Armenia, a country you always wanted to travel. Can you explain us why?
Since I’ve graduated I wanted to travel to Armenia. Finally last summer I could fulfil my wish.

Tell us something about the life of the people from Armenia?
They say, that the Armenian hospitality is legendary. I can absolutely confirm this statement. I seldom experienced in my life such a warm welcome. This country has managed to save its own tradition and culture after several years under the Soviet rule.

It is not an easy life, but I have met so many women, strong workers, who are very optimistic by looking confident into the future. There is one example. One day, I got lost in the suburbs of Yerevan. It was a very hot day - the streets were deserted. All of a sudden a women took my arm brought me to her house. She called her neighbours, other ladies and we ended up eating fruits and drinking iced juice. As a present they gave me a fan, which I keep with love. This is Armenia and his people.


How important is travelling for you? Is there a place in the world you would like to photograph? Traveling is a part of me and a kind of nourishment… I am very curious and strongly believe that we don’t need to go far away to exotic places to make good photographs. Usually, I like to go back to places I already know and experience in a new way. I am sure I will go back to Ethiopia and Asia, where I have worked.


Has photography changed your life?
Yes, a lot. It changed my perspective of life and awareness of it. And it is an incredible adventure and discovery of myself as well.

Final question. Is there any female photographer you admire?
From Italy, I would name Letizia Battaglia and her many reportages about “Mafia”. Tina Modotti, for her adventurous private life. Nan Goldin is in my heart. 

There are so many works of female photographers I love and follow.The list would be too long to name them all. I very much enjoy seing a lot of young female photographers committed and producing great works. And it is very funny to hear, and not too rarely, that there are no femalephotographers, isn’t is?


Micky Modo | London


When did you first become interested in photography?
As a teenager. I was a bit of a rebel trying very hard to express myself and eventually through photography I found myself.
I was very much into alternative music which provided me with a lot of inspiration. Art was also a big influence: Frida Kahlo, Gustav Klimt, Modigliani, Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, Tamara de Lempicka, Francis Bacon to name a few..and of course other photographers like Paolo
Roversi, Sarah Moon, Richard Avedon, Tina Modotti, Edward Weston, Man Ray, Henry Cartier- Bresson, ... and films .. Fellini, Orson Welles, Antonioni, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, Tim Burton.

I discovered your work via Instagram. Your women portrait series is terrific and the pictures are very strong! How did the idea come up to start a project about Women?
I was working in Milan and just met with two talented ladies Claudia Nesi and Daniela d’Ortenzi, style and make up @ Pervinka. They had an interesting background working with fashion designer Romeo Gigli and we immediately clicked. We decided to create a series of portraits of women that went beyond fashion. Strong women, interesting and talented women with a definite style.


Some of the images look like Frida Kahlo, Marlene Dietrich and Audrey Hepburn. Is there a connection?
We wanted to take inspiration from the past, from Art, History and Culture but we wanted to recreate a modern version of these characters: Tina Modotti, Frida Kahlo, Elisabeth I, Tamara de Lempicka and the Marchesa Casati all have a definite style and they are strong, independent and talented women.

Do you have a certain workflow when you start a project like this?
Well, I normally do but this project started as a personal project and then took a life of its own. First, the portrait of Tina Modotti won the Women in Photography International (WIPI) Award and got published in the 25th Anniversary Book in the US. Then as a series, they won the IPA (International Photography Award) in the Fashion category. The project also got published in Stile In and

I then decided to take it further and create art pieces for each individual portrait in collaboration with Italian graphic designer Spire. The art project was very well received and took us to various exhibitions in Italy and in London. The art pieces are now on sale online at Saatchi Art, Fine Art America, Rise Art and LumiArts.


In 2008 you won a collaboration with D della Repubblica in Milan and worked with fashion designer Romeo Gigli. Had this collaboration have an influence in your photography?
Absolutely. D della Repubblica gave me the opportunity of getting published and make myself known. Romeo Gigli is such a great talent, a true artist. He and his team believed in me and he gave me the freedom to interpret his new collection.

How important is it to hear your inner voice as a photographer?
Very important. I always try to listen to it and follow my instinct.

You work as a full-time photographer. What advice would you give young female photographers who are starting to become a photographer?
To be flexible and diversify within the industry; never stop shooting personal projects; network!

Are you already planning other photographic projects?
Yes, coming soon..

Final question. Is there any female photographer you admire?
Sarah Moon, Tina Modotti, Diane Arbus, Mary Ellen Mark, Cindy Sherman, .. 


Corinne Wargnier | Paris

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Hello, Corinne tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into photography?
I’m a self-taught street photographer based in Paris. I’m also a novelist. My first encounter with photography dates back to my childhood. My father had a Leidolf Lordomat 35mm camera that he took everywhere. It was mainly used to photograph the family or holiday landscapes. The camera was omnipresent. It was, in fact, this “object” that initially fascinated me. The way the film was inserted into the camera for example and development of the film. This was all so mysterious to me! Then I gradually became interested in photographers. A documentary on television about the photographer Gilles Caron, who died very young whilst in the field in Cambodia, was certainly very instrumental.

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You are a street photographer. What fascinates you so much capturing life in the streets?
Telling a story, I think. Trying to capture the emotion of and empathy for my subjects, while also composing the shot in a beautiful way. In fact, that’s what I think tends to be the meaning of a street photographer’s work.

Your work is mainly shot in Black & White. Ist there a reason for that?
One of the reasons I shoot in black and white is because it lends a certain timeless quality to the images. I always think in black and white as soon as I prepare to take a picture. Even if the scene I have before me is very colourful, I immediately imagine it in black and white, as if I was a photographer in the past. Another reason is that it helps to emphasise emotion, and gives added depth to the image. I also must confess that I have no talent as far as colour is concerned!

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How important is travelling for you?
For me travelling is initially to discover cultures other than my own, to meet new people in their own environments. Travelling to a new place allows me to observe different things. It’s a great way to broaden my horizons, and fresh sights are a great new source of inspiration: having my eyes open to an unfamiliar world is a fantastic way to get myself out of a creative rut. Shooting street photos in a new city is amazing and provides a wonderful photographic rush.

Paris is a fantastic and constant source of inspiration for street photography. It is difficult to get tired of this city. But it is also necessary to travel to diversify my work. I also get stimulated and awed by what is different and new.

You submitted a body of work you shot in Vietnam. Tell us a little bit about it.
I knew nothing about Vietnam. The little I knew about its culture I gathered from briefly perusing a few books before leaving. So it was difficult to know what to expect. It was a leap into the unknown. I wondered how the Vietnamese would react to me intruding when taking photographs, how I could express my presence just as much as my discretion. And I was very lucky. Each person I met gave me the opportunity to capture a moment of their life, and this trust caused strong emotions to well up in me. I can clearly say that the Vietnamese are a generous and endearing people. I hope that the body of work you see reflects this.

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Did you feel a special inspiration while shooting in Vietnam?
What I felt almost immediately is that Vietnam is a country full of photographic opportunities. I understood that my desire to photograph everyday life in cities and rural areas would lead to discovering and experiencing something beyond simple observation.

You work as a novelist. Do you think that writing has kind of an influence on your photography?Through reflecting on this subject I have often reached the conclusion that the two mediums, writing and photography, are in direct opposition. Photography is a representation of the truth, writing fiction is an invention, a fabrication. At the same time, writing and photography are intimately linked. I don’t write without visualizing the scenes that I describe, and I don’t photograph without aiming to tell a story. They both somehow combine, their influences work both ways.

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Is there a photographer or type of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?
I have always and I continue to visit many exhibitions. I believe that the first influence comes from there, even if it is subconscious. Seeing in detail and taking time to discover the work of other street or documentary photographers is very rewarding. You are immersed and impregnated with feelings from it, making you just want to go out onto the street and pursue your own photographic work.

But if I had to name just one photographer, it would be Henri Cartier-Bresson.

What do you enjoy most about being a photographer?
Certainly, the freedom that I feel when I’m walking in the streets with my camera, without ever looking for anything specific but always observing, hoping that maybe a scene or a face will captivate me.

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A big thank you to Louise Jablonowska for the French-English translation.

Instagram : corinne_wargnier

Vanessa Colareta | Lima, Peru


Vanessa Colareta is a still life photographer based in Lima, Peru. Her artistic education started with B.A. In Fine Arts in Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain and continued with M.A. Visual Arts and Multimedia, Photography in the same university.

In 2013 she was named Still Life Professional Photographer of the Year at the Sony World Photography Awards, London. Vanessa has participated in exhibitions and events related to the visual arts such as “ArtLima” Art Fair at The Army School of Lima (Peru, 2014), "Sony World Photography Awards 2013" as part of the Month of Art, at House of Culture in Bratislava, "Lima Photo" Art Fair at the Image Centre in Lima (Peru, 2013),"Sony World Photography Awards 2013" at Somerset House in London and "Cafe Dossier" at La Tabacalera in Madrid, among others. 

Hello Vanessa, thanks for submitting your work to Women in Photography. Can you tell our readers a little bit about you and how you got into photography?
I started studying painting at the Escuela Superior Autónoma de Bellas Artes in Lima, Peru. During my second year, I realized that I wanted to get some experience abroad, and thus I applied to a scholarship. In 2005, I got accepted at the Polytechnic University of Valencia and therefore was able to continue my education in Spain. It was there that I began to take photographs.


You are a still life photographer - what fascinates you about this genre?
When I was conducting preliminary research for my first project about female migration, 'Migrant', I was looking for different ways in which I could address this complex topic through photography that were not mere portraits. I was looking for something more poetic. Still Life came up as the perfect genre. Through food and flowers, it is possible to talk about society, economics, culture, politics, colonialism, and other relevant issues. 

Furthermore, during the research stage, I interviewed many women facing migration. Some of them lived in Spain undocumented. Keeping their anonymity was crucial if I wanted to obtain their testimonies. 

Finally, throughout history, Still Life has been considered a secondary genre, not as important as historic and sacred paintings. The connection between topics and gender is pretty obvious in these three cases: food and flowers (the house) related to the feminine sphere; war and religion (power), to men. 

You submitted your project „Exodus“. Can you tell us more about it? 
Exodus addresses female migration from Spain due to the recent economic crisis. 

When I first came to Spain in 2005, I realized that Spaniards felt overwhelmed by the waves of immigrants arriving from different countries. They seemed to have forgotten how thousands of Spanish citizens had travelled abroad during Franco's dictatorship and before. I started 'Migrant' series in 2011 having that in mind.

A couple of years afterwards, I started 'Exodus'. Ironically, the direction of the migration flow had changed because of the economic crisis: Spaniards started to travel abroad looking for better opportunities. 

Before both series, I interviewed all the participants in order to get some background information. I asked them about their experiences with migration in relation to family, work and society. Then, I started thinking about a picture that fits each story and selects the items that will appear in the composition. 

What were you looking for when you started that project? 

During my studies in Valencia, I met many foreign women who lived in Spain. Some of them were students like me, some others came to work in order to improve their life. Also, during my research for 'Migrant' I met women who left their own children and travelled abroad so that they could give them a better future. Listening to these stories of bravery, one could only feel admiration and the urge to share them, to give them a voice. 

Your photographs express a kind of poetic look - how did you cultivate your sense of composition?
My photographs are inspired by Still Life paintings of the 16th and 17th century. Thus, when I create each composition, I tried to keep certain chromatic and lighting. As a result, the pictures instil a deep classic vibe, even though elements which are traditionally associated with Still Life were combined with contemporary items such as plastic bags or cell phones. 

Lighting has an important role in creating the atmosphere I was pursuing to achieve. In the case of the 'Exodus' series, it was done in my studio in Madrid. There, I had big windows and when I first came in I considered for a second covering them in order to use the flash. Later, I realized how complicated it would be, so I made some tests with my camera and realized how beautiful was the light I had! If you see that place you could never imagine that pictures like mine were made there. I love using natural light for Still Life. In my opinion, it has the perfect warmth.


Did you have a certain workflow?
The most important part of the series (and the most difficult) is to collect the testimonies. I really enjoyed this stage because it gave me the opportunity to meet interesting people and hear their stories. 

After that, I made some sketches in order to visualize the composition and to get the stage props and food needed. I cooked most of the dishes that I photographed, so the day after each photo shoot I usually invited friends to dinner.

What is your intention behind this presentation?
My intention was to represent these women's journeys, through a genre that is historically connected to the feminine sphere. 


In 2013 you were named as Still Life Photographer of the Year for the Sony World Photography Award. What does this honour mean to you?
eing named 2013 Still Life Photographer of the Year was a unique experience. I was able to share 'Migrant' (which was the awarded project) with many people worldwide. Also, I had the opportunity to meet artists, art critics and editors, as well as to show my photos at Somerset House. That year,  William Egglestone received an award to recognize his trajectory. I was delighted to participate in an exhibition with him.

After the prize, interesting projects came up: an exhibition in Lima (at Alliance Française), a solo show in Belgium (at Nunc Contemporary), a publication for Exit (a photographic magazine from Spain), an invitation to participate in the online project Master Piece Edition in Germany, among others.


What advice would you give young female photographers who are starting to become a photographer?

I think it is important to learn about the history of women in arts as well as to do research on female artists because there are tons of interesting ones excluded from books and exhibitions. Also, it is important to participate in photo contests in order to get visibility worldwide.

You’re from Peru. Can you tell us a little bit about the photography scene in Peru? Are there any female photographers you can recommend?

There are interesting places where you can see what's going on in photography, like The Mario Testino Museum (MATE) and Lima Photo Art Fair. Talking about Peruvian female photographers, I really like the work of Leslie Spak and María María Acha-Kutscher.

Thanks a lot Vanessa for the Interview!


Natalie Christensen | Santa Fe, New Mexico

Natalie Christensen is a photographer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has won several regional awards and shown work in the U.S. and internationally. Unconventionally, Natalie launched her photography career on Instagram.  In addition to pursuing her interests in art and design, Natalie has worked as a psychotherapist for over 25 years and has been particularly influenced by the work of depth psychologist, Carl Jung. This influence is evidenced in her photographs, as shadows and archetypal images are favoured subjects.

Hello Natalie, when did you first become interested in photography as a mode of expression?
I became interested in photography as a mode of expression about two years ago. I had relocated to the American Southwest after living my entire life in a very different part of the United States. I think that photography helped me process the experience of a new environment. I always thought of myself as a verbal person, expressing myself through words. Something about this new place nudged the visual side of me

As a former psychotherapist, what made you decide to dive finally into the career of a photographer?
I am still working in the helping profession, as a consultant, however, I am also a photographer and it takes up an equal amount of time. I am fortunate to be able to devote myself to this, and I have a very supportive partner who has encouraged me to follow this road wherever it leads.

Let’s talk about your project New Mexico Deconstructed. How did the idea come up for this project?
New Mexico Deconstructed wasn’t an idea until after a number of these photos were already taken. I was drawn to certain types of scenes here without an articulated reason as to why. As a therapist, I often look for patterns in people’s lives and explore the possibilities of the meaning of these patterns. I did the same with my own images. I noticed certain similarities in the images and realized that there was a series happening without a conscious plan. This was very early in my exploration of photography, and I didn't really understand the idea of projects and series. I was just taking photos! 

The pictures are very well composed, minimalistic and have kind of meditative mood. How did you cultivate your sense of composition?
Coco Chanel once said about accessories: “Always remove one thing before you leave the house. Less is more.” I think this applies not only to fashion but also to interiors, architecture, photography and other art forms.  When I am out shooting, I am very drawn to negative space; I think it is very restful for the brain to experience it.  I think I have a deep attraction for geometry as well, and so this combined with negative space and a tight composition conveys a meditative experience. The images are simple, but I hope that they also invite the viewer to contemplate something deeper.

You intentionally shoot in „unattractive environments“.  Do you have an idea why?
I am attracted to unattractive environments for several reasons. First, I think it is more challenging to shoot in a place that is unattractive on the surface. I am much more interested in a banal scene than a beautiful landscape. I have spent much of my professional life exploring the idea of the shadow side of the personality. The dark side that we ignore, deny, avoid. When I go behind a shopping center or a blighted out abandoned commercial space it feels very similar to me. What am I going to find there? What will be revealed? In those hidden places can be the gold, the thing that illuminates and says to us, ‘Hey, I have been here all along. Look at me, there is something to understand here.”

How important is it to hear your inner voice as a photographer?
Of course, the inner voice of the artist is what creates “authentic” work. The world of sharing and viewing art through social media can make this difficult – is this my authentic voice or am I being influenced by what I see others doing? I don’t know the answer to that question. I struggle with it.

You started your photography career on Instagram. Do you think Instagram gave you the opportunity to break through as an artist? 
Yes, Instagram has been the vehicle for me to launch my career as a photographer. As different people began to take notice and feature my work, I gained more confidence. It has lead to showing my work in galleries as well as gallery representation, which has been a major goal for me. The stage is very large and it’s impossible to overstate its influence on contemporary photography.

Do you think Instagram had an influence on the aesthetics of your work?
Yes, as I previously stated, Instagram is the place where very talented photographers are sharing their work regularly, and viewing it definitely has an influence on my own work. Minimalism is very popular and there is no shortage of inspiration to be found.

What is the most challenging for you about photography?
The most challenging thing for me at the moment is the technical side of photography – learning the camera settings as well as Lightroom and Photoshop. Since I have no formal education in photography I am learning it on my own and with help from other photographer friends.

Final question. Is there any female photographer you admire?
Female photographers I admire include Cindy Sherman, Sally Mann, Sinziana Velicescu, and Haley Eichenbaum.

Michelle Bastos | Brasília, Brazil

Hello Michelle, thanks a lot for submitting your work. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got into photography?

I currently live and work in Brasília, where I was born. I am a Political Scientist and have a Bachelor of Arts (Drama). I believe that the double qualification had a lot of influence in my work, both form and conceptually. I mainly work with political themes (understanding as political especially the micro politics). The Drama comes to my images as performance and intensity.

As a background, I have a grandmother originally from Karajá´s native indigenous group. As many Brazilians, I came from a multi ethnic family, what means having European, African and Native Indigenous blood.

I am very interested in my background, what made me living in some Indigenous villages in order to understand more about their way of life. I am developing some photographic projects in those villages, which probably will not be seen in the art world because the images produced are on their own.

I got a specialization in Portrait and Visual Identity at Speos Paris Photographic Institute in 2011. Since there I started my own research about portraits, what became the main topic of my work. Currently, I research and work about what I call as “analogies of the portrait”. I am developing ways of portraying people without working with the traditional concept of a portrait. 

A few years ago, I won a partial scholarship at Istituto Europeo di Design of Madrid, where I concluded a Master Degree in Fine Art Photography.

My first experience in photography was between 2004 and 2007 when I wrote and published a book about the Brazilian actress Dulcina de Moraes and worked with her photographic archive, with photos from 1906 to 1996. The book was published by LGE Editors, having as title “Dulcina de Moraes- Memórias de um Teatro Brasileiro”.

At last but not least, I am Feminist! Considering how a woman lives in Brazil, that couldn´t be different.

You submitted your project about lines, mistakes and absences - shot in seven small villages in the middle of nothing in Brazil. Compared to your other work this one is very colourful and abstract. How did you come up with the idea?

I was portraying people on those villages when I realized that traditionally the locals paint their own homes, choosing 2 different colours and dividing the house façade horizontally. There is a kind of pattern, an own way to understanding what is the beauty.

Therefore, I considered that those walls, painted by the residents, keep a strong relation with their own skin. What their understanding as “me” was mixed with what their understanding as “home”. For me, the close of walls has a strong relation with portrait. Somehow, that is a portrait too.

Can you explain to us how people live in these villages? 

The year of 2017 is been an atypical for all Brazilians. Recently we had a Coup to the democratic State, what had negatives impacts for all Brazilians, especially the population socially vulnerable, mostly concentrated in rural areas (when they are not big unproductive landowners, what is common in Brazil), mostly black or Indigenous (related to Brazilian historical process of Slavery and Colonization).

In most villages, local people are missing everything: jobs, education access to health care and even hope. Somehow, I met people extremely positive about life and future. I learned a lot of them. Considering that I can´t do a lot about jobs, education and health care at least I can do something about hope. On my next trip, I will teach locals what I know about photography and social female protagonist.

You said that there is a tight relation between the walls of the houses and the skin of the local people… What do you mean by that?

I meant that I see that walls and skin tell the same story about their owners. Every mark, spot, wrinkle or disruption are related to an experience of life. Walls and skin are the same covers to the same subject.

It is so amazing to see that people want to express themselves, - how they want to be seen by colour painting their houses.

I think sometimes the less you have, the more creative you’ll get. Would you agree?

Most houses are built and painted with few resources. In cases where the owner can pay at least for the dye and the tape to mark a perfect line between colours, they get closer to the beautiful pattern. In cases where the owner has no financial way to pay for those materials, they improvise with donations of the rest of dye, clay or whitewash.

What is your intention with this project?

Initially, my intention with this project was to understand how life is in deep Brazil. 

Brazil has a population of 200.000.000 people, including different ethnic, social condition and strong regional differences.

I live in the capital, what makes me having a social experience - mostly the same. Because of that, I was wondering if I really know my country. That was the main reason to explore deep Brazil. I had met places that I never imagined before. Even for me, Brazil keeps been a big surprise in every small trip I do.

Tell us a bit about the photography scene in Brazil. Is there any work of female photographers you can recommend?

As many other countries, there are more male than female photographers and artists in galleries, biennales, art halls, prizes, grants and festivals.

This year the group “Yvy Mulheres da Images” was created by Brazilian women working in images - not only photographers, in order to get more space for the woman in the art world. The group wish to get gender equality in all fields of art/image.

Between the big list of Brazilian photographers who I admire I could say those names: Ana Lira, Elza Lima, Virgínia de Medeiros, Aleta Valente, Rosangela Renno, Marizilda Cruppe, Nair Benedicto, Cláudia Andujar, Maureen Bisilliat (Brazilian citizen), Berna Reale, Luisa Dörr, Musa Mattiuzzi (who is not exactly a photographer, but a performer who uses photography in her work) and from Brasília I recently know and admire the work of Julia Milward and Dalia Hofmann. 

Are you already planning other photographic projects?

I am always planning and doing something new in photography. My hyperactive personality keeps me working on more than one project at once.

You can find more about Michelles work by clicking here.

Ana Clara Tito | Rio de Janeiro

Hello Ana, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into photography?
Hi, Nicole, I'm an industrial design student and for the first two years of my undergrad, I had special photography classes. These classes were my first real contact with the field, granting me a way to express myself and talk about things other than just register family moments or travels. By the end of 2013, I decided to go on an exchange program to a university in Toronto, CA, where I spent a year focused on visual arts – especially photography, which I already knew would be an important part of my life and career.

You submitted work of your photo essay „Together“, which is about black and mixed race young women. What is this work about?
"Together" is about so many things! I and my work have always been connected with the themes of emotion, intimacy and stereotypes, in a sort of political way. My projects are usually about myself but in this project, I decided to make things different. I wanted to have other women with me, women that go through similar experiences and that many times are labelled the same way as I am. I wanted to talk about love and support between us, about our sensibilities, our bodies, our beauty.

More than half of the Brazilian population is black or mixed. We have the largest African diaspora in the world but it still doesn't mean that the aesthetics of this group are seen and represented on the traditional mass media. Even though that has been changing a bit lately, we, as culture, still follow many European centred beauty standards. The effects of that on the young black and mixed Brazilian woman can be really serious, leading us to a sad story of internalised hate, low self-esteem and depression.

Another issue we have to deal with is the myth of the strong black woman that can support and survive anything, adding to the general idea that women are too sensitive and need to learn to contain themselves. This can lead to deep and dangerous suppression of emotions.

So you can imagine what it means for us to have a space to celebrate our emotions, our beauty and aesthetics, a moment to celebrate the union, friendship, love. As a brazilian philosopher and feminist Sueli Carneiro says, we need to claim our right to be, as black women, fragile, vulnerable, worth of care since through history that has been taken away from us.

We live in 2017 and unfortunately, there is still a lot of racism in the world. I was surprised to read, that even in Brazil there is made a big difference between white and Black/ Mixed people. Can you help us to understand what’s the reason for this?
There is always a big difference being made between white people and the other ethnicities. Things have been complicated since European countries decided to go around colonising the world, separating people in "us" and "them", with the last group being taken as less worthy, less human and less developed.

In Brazil, the last country to end slavery, the black population became officially free only in 1888, less than 150 years ago. For the most part of our history, black lives and bodies have been violently exploited and excluded. The official end of slavery didn't mean preparation, inclusion or acceptance in the Brazilian white society. Instead, we had official government moves trying to whiten the population – to make it look more like Europe – like for example, the encouragement of migration from European countries and other places to Brazil. We had theories that propagated the idea that we, as a country, would only be civilised and developed once we were more white. Because of that, even after 1888, Brazilian black population kept being excluded, marginalised, criminalised, killed.

We can say that a lot changed for the better, but we are still far from equality in a country ruled by white rich – and many times untouchable – men with no intention of seriously talking about these deep-rooted inequalities. In a country like this, where race still dictates class and social position, it's harder to have strong black representation in the mass media, on the universities and governments, for example.

Anyway, we will fight and we will shine!

We all know, that there shouldn’t be made a difference about skin tones, gender, religion or sexual orientation of people. We are all one and the best would be to care for each other and live respectfully together. Do you think especially women have a worse standing in Brazilian society? Unfortunately, yes. If not even in countries considered rich, developed and stable – politically and economically – we see equality between men and women imagine here!

High numbers of domestic violence and femicide, deep conservatory views and politics on abortion, low representation in academic, political and business environments, ultra sexualization of the female body… These are things that we face here in Brazil and that show the urgency of change.

What do you think could help to change this?
Men need to stop thinking they can talk for us, decide for us, govern for us, create for us. We need to break into these environments dominated by white man. Women also urgently need to create space for ourselves, create unity and support each other because we are stronger together.

Let’s talk about your workflow. What were you looking for when you captured your images? Did you have a certain vision about the composition?
I had certain feelings that I wanted the photos to incorporate and some few compositions to try, but things developed very easily with the girls involved. We all knew each other, and I believe it created a comfortable space for the moments and consequently for the images to be developed.

There were also some art direction choices. I had very clear in my mind the colours I wanted and how the poses should feel intimate and delicate. I was looking for beauty, vulnerability but also strength, supportive and positive relationships.

What would be the best compliment you’ll get for „Together“?
That's a hard question for me… I think it would be someone saying that felt represented on my images, that felt deeply touched by them and what they mean.

Thanks a lot, Ana…
Thanks a lot, Nicole, for this conversation and for the space you've created for us women.

Instagram: ac_tito

Leticia Valdes | Buenos Aires

Hello, Leticia, thanks for submitting your work. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and when did you first become interested in photography?
Hello, I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina and I have a degree in film studies. I first become interested in photography, when I was thirteen. In the beginning, I captured objects and tried to present them as realistic as I could. Little by little I developed my interest in more abstract dreamlike images.

I've always been very much interested in black and white photography and influenced by artists like Horacio Coppola, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Josef Sudek and Edward Weston. Years ago I took lessons at Rosa Revsin’s studio. She taught me about the concepts of the aesthetics of photography, as well as the history and fundamentals. Rodolfo Lozano and his “fotografía creativa” workshop polished my visual training. Both artists helped me to learn the fundamentals of photography. 

When you started with photography you experimented a lot with analogue cameras. Nowadays you prefer shooting digital? Do you think digital photography gives you more possibilities to express your art?
I don’t actually prefer one over the other. The digital format just allows me to check immediately the pictures and gives me the possibility to produce a certain set of images.

From time to time I work with analogue cameras and experiment with older modes of productions like cyanotype, wet collodion and pinhole photography...

Let ́s talk about your submitted project “MARCAS DE AGUA”. These images are very powerful. How did you come up with the idea?
Generally, I don’t go out and hunt for pictures -  I find them. They reveal to me like secrets. The choice of objects or places doesn’t depend on me. It’s rather the result of chances. “MARCAS DE AGUA” was created during a short trip to the coastal shore of Buenos Aires.

When you work on a project like “MARCAS DE AGUA” – do you have a special workflow?
I try to make my process intuitive. My creativity gets blocked when I am under time pressure or if I have too many requirements or restrictions. Everything develops - it may take years or just a few moments. The key is not to hurry and not to expect immediate results or magical solutions.

Besides your work as an independent photographer, you work as a curator. What are you looking for when you curate work of other artists?
I love working with artists. When I curate work of an artist I am not just looking for great artwork - I also try to imagine the reaction of the audience. I want to create an "experience", starting from designing the space and the people who visit the exhibit.

Tell us a little bit about the photography scene in Buenos Aires. Are there any female photographers you could recommend?
Buenos Aires is a great place for artists. Many artists are looking for new genres and formats of expression. Every day new creative networks are starting in neighbourhoods, becoming research labs and ending up in fantastic different projects. People are working hand in hand to participate in exhibition biennales, forums and fairs. 

Sara Facio, Alicia D'Amico or Annemarie Heinrich are role models to young female artist. Currently, Adriana Lestido is an important Argentine photographer who captures pictures of the daily life revealing the characteristics of human relationships. Other great female artists in the Argentinian scene are Florencia Blanco, Estela Izuel and Helen Zout.

How do you see your photography evolving over the next years?
I currently can’t imagine a direction. But I know, that I will follow a path of experimentation, continuous self- improvement, constant exchanges with other artists, and communication with absolute freedom.

Marisa Culatto | London

Hello Marisa, thanks a lot for submitting your work. How did you get into photography?
I think I was interested in “producing images” from an early age.  I started taking pictures with a small compact camera I was given at the age of 11. Then, when I was 17, in my last year at school in Gran Canaria, I got my first reflex camera and attended a year long photography workshop organised by my senior school with an amazing local photographer – we even had a darkroom!  I did modern languages at college, but spent most of my spare time reading about art and experimenting with mixed media and alternative photographic/printing processes, sometimes even “borrowing” other people’s images from newspapers and magazines to work on them. Then I got a job as assistant to a fashion photographer who was very experimental.  I learnt a lot about technical matters in those years with him, but the most important lessons he taught me were that there are no fixed rules, and that hard work is the base of everything.

But it was really the encounter with the digital realm what consolidated my artistic practice, as it helped me think of the camera as just one more of the elements of my process.

You said, that you have an ambivalent relationship with the photographic medium. Can you explain why?
I’m always surprised – almost uncomfortable – when described as a photographer, which could seem strange as I work exclusively with a camera.  I think this is because my language – my imagery - and my work processes don’t fit comfortably within the classic territory of photography. Since the advent of the digital, there’s a lot of talk of what is or isn’t photography (let alone what is or isn’t art!).  I have heard opposite approaches: that only photojournalism is photography, or that anything lens based is photography.  I think both approaches talk about the same fact: that there has been an explosion within the medium. I’m not sure where I stand on the theory… I just want to do what I want to do.

Let's talk about your submitted project Flora. First of all congratulations for these unique compositions! How did you get the idea for Flora?
Then, first of all, thank you: I’m delighted that you like them.  I had been thinking about tackling the genre of the still life for quite some time.  I wanted to do my own take on it and eventually concluded that the way to do it was to photograph frozen compositions. I tested different approaches until deciding that these would have to be based on vegetation.  This decision came about after doing another project called Ophelia, in which I photographed clusters of seaweed floating in small puddles in the sand… So, in this case, refining the process took a while.

The photographs look very well composed. Every single flower seems perfectly arranged.     How did you cultivate your sense of composition?
I think the sense of composition is something that one just has, like being able to sing in tune, or being good with words. The rest is just working at it, and looking a lot of other people’s work - I’m sure it helps train the eye too. 

What is your intention behind this presentation?
The conceptual intention has to do with beauty, and the loss of it, and the futile attempt to hold on to it.  It’s my way of trying to come to terms and accept the inevitable process of getting old…  In the end, it also speaks about the act of photography itself: the freezing of the moment.

What do you find is the hardest challenge when taking pictures?  

My biggest challenge is producing what I want to produce with limited resources.  I am not very interested in technique or technology, and I don’t like having too much equipment, as I find all that too encumbering and distracting. So I have to find a way to do what I want to do with the resources available.  This is generally possible and, also, for me, limitations are helpful, in that they provide me with a framework and help me focus.

Is there a photographer which has influenced your thinking and photography? 
I’m never quite sure of who or what has influenced me the most.  I think I’m not always aware of what has an impact, as I feel that this sometimes happens at a subconscious level and in a cumulative manner.  I tend to resonate with very different visual artists, regardless of the medium they work on, so not just photographers.  Having said that, I remember a Keith Arnatt exhibition I saw in the early 90s, which included works from his Canned Sunsets and The Tears of Things series.  It had a massive impact on me.  It would take too long to explain how or why, but the fact is that I left the gallery finally certain that, if I ever allowed myself to be a practising artist, my medium would be photography based. 

Do you have any upcoming projects that you’d like to share with our readers?
At the moment I’m working simultaneously on two very different projects. One is a long-term, ongoing nature.  It’s called In Order to See, and deals with a more “photographic” behaviour in which I carry a camera with me to take pictures of the world, but obviously with a twist…  The other one is another “staged” body of work, like Flora, in that I put them together in the studio, but the idea behind it is completely different, and, formally, it happens in a dark background, rather than the very bright white of Flora…  It’s in its early stages, so I cannot say more about it yet.

Thanks a lot Marisa for the Interview!

Clara Vannucci | Florence, Italy

Crime and Redemption-2.jpg

Hi Clara tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m Clara Vannucci, an Italian freelance photographer. I work on assignments in portraiture, sport, corporate, travel, editorial, for magazine and newspaper like The New York Times, L’Uomo Vogue, Stern, Touring Club National Geo. 

The work that represents me the most are my long term projects - all related to the Criminal Justice System:

  • Crime and Redemption, documenting Volterra’s theater in prison company since 2007
  • Rikers Island, documenting the NYC’s Jail Battered women section and one of a prisoner’s family
  • Bail Bond. Bondsmen, defendants & bounty hunters. About the Bail Bond System in the US

You once said that as a child you wanted to become a Rock Star! What changed your mind to stand behind a camera rather than in front of a crowd? 
I think I sadly realized that I'm not such an interesting subject. I'm more fascinated by others people stories, that I find a lot more interesting. 

What does photography mean to you?
Photography and my camera allow me to enter into "others" lives. Even if it's just for a short time - I can mix their life with mine. Through images, I find a way to communicate with everyone, in every country. I think reportage is the best way for me to represent the subjects I photograph. 

Let’s talk about your longtime project „Crime and Redemption“, a reportage about the theater group La Compagnia Della Fortezza in Volterra. How did the idea to that project come up?
It all started when I was very young. I started to document the Theatre in Prison in Tuscany for the association OSA Teatro.  It was my first assignment - it impressed me very much. I visited so many prisons, from Juvenile to Maximum Security, but the one that really impressed me the most was the Volterra One. It was so different from the others, completely on another level. Prisoners were actors, and the impact was incredibly strong. The Volterra prison theater is considered to be a highly motivational therapeutic method of working with violent incarcerated offenders. Prison theater is about redemption. They learn a profession, they become actors, not only prisoners. They go on tour all around Italy and perform to sold out crowds. At the end of the show, they are escorted to the local prison for overnight.

Once I moved to NYC, I showed the pictures to Donna, she was really shocked and she pushed me to keep going there to shoot this incredible story. Of course, I did it. It became my first important project. 

It is rather unusual for a woman to work on different prison projects. Is there a specific intention?
No there isn't. It's just something that really dragged me into and I want to discover more about it.

Was there something you have learned about life in prison and the prisoners?
Of course, there are many different things you can learn from them. One, in particular, is how to sort out different solutions in daily life - like how to build an oven and cook an amazing cake with just three gas tank in a cell. 

You did an internship at Magnum Photo in NYC and assisted the documentary photographer Donna Ferrato.  What experience was it for you to work for Magnum and what was the most important thing you have learned during your internship?
The internship at Magnum has been such an honor. I was so excited. I didn't know that much about photography, and Magnum was the only agency I knew. When I arrived in NYC I had lunch with Paul Fusco, the Magnum Photographer, and Associated. He wrote me a letter of recommendation. I was the happiest person on the planet. The internship was mostly about to archive photographs and dealing with the negatives of the masters of photography. During that time I have learned a lot about photography history. 

During that time Donna Ferrato became your mentor. How important was this for you? Would you suggest to young photographers finding a mentor? 
I never went to a photography school. Being Donna Ferrato’s Assistant, for over 2 years, meant a lot to me. She taught me everything, like how to approach to people I want to photograph, to tell their stories. She’s definitely my mentor and my inspiration. She forced me not being lazy and carry my camera every day. The camera is the tool that now allows me to enter into other people's lives, even if it's just a short time.

Donna has been the best experience I could ever have and of course, I would suggest to any young photographer finding a mentor. It’s the best way to learn.

What is your creative process when you work on a project?
Often people contact me and want to tell their story, but I also look for ideas while I am traveling. I start to read something about the place I'm going to visit, and then I start to find little stories to tell.  For example, my prison projects felt like a chain - they are connected in a kind of a way to each other.  I started my project in Opera Prison in Milan and after the exhibition about it, I started with the Bail Bond projects. The Bail Bond project was born, because I was talking with a person about the Rikers Island One. And so on..

You’re from Italy-  Is there an Italian female photographer you really admire?
Definitely Letizia Battaglia! Her work on the Mafia in Sicily, it is a real photojournalistic document. Over the years she documented the brutal internal war of the Mafia and the assault to society. She actually co-won the Eugene Smith Award with Donna Ferrato in the same year. They are both revolutionaries.

Thanks a lot Clara for the interview!