Women Photographers series - Photofile/Thames & Hudson; writer: Clara Bouveresse

© Thames & Hudson
© Thames & Hudson
© Thames & Hudson

Women have been pioneering photographers since the earliest days of the art form. This expertly curated set of three volumes in the renowned Photofile series brings together 190 women photographers from all over the world, working in all styles and genres.

Women began working as photographers in the second half of the 19th century, a time when the rules of the medium had not yet been codified and experimentation was the order of the day. Some opened their own studios, patenting their own equipment and carving out a place for themselves in this new artistic field, while others were obliged to work anonymously or under pseudonyms.

As global tensions rose and the Second World War began, many women photographers found themselves under threat or forced into exile. Others worked as war reporters or documented the aftermath of the conflict, but a great number found new creative energy and an increased engagement with political themes.

With the rise of feminism, women photographers conquered the mainstream, with an increasingly commodified art world now viewing them simply as photographers and not merely a novelty or subcategory. Some women combined their photography practice with video, installations and other media, while others used the camera as a tool for questioning the concept of image-making itself, or for opening a fruitful dialogue with subjects, instead of imposing an outside viewpoint.

Virna Haffer: © courtesy of Jacky Randall and Knut Ringen and Cascadia ArtJuneau, Alaska, 1938.
Miwa Yanagi: © Miwa Yanagi; courtesy Loock Galerie BerlinUntitled III, 2005.