Art grants us the opportunity to explore the human experience from perspectives other than our own. Photography is one of the best mediums for this, but all too often, it’s just another way of perpetuating the supremacy of the male gaze. It might feel sometimes like it’s a woman’s world (at least that’s what we’re fighting for), but our portrayal in all forms of media is still generally the product of a patriarchal system. This has to stop; a diversity of perspectives is essential to creating an equal society. And so, in an effort to showcase views other than those of men, we handpicked 21 talented photographers who identify as women and empower others through their work, rather than demean them. Scroll down to learn more about them and see some of their brilliant work.
One of the youngest artists on this list, Miranda Barnes is a New York-based photographer whose photos take on the duality of her subjects and employ gorgeous muted tones to make them feel like a warm look into the past. We particularly admire the multigenerational representation of sisterhood in her “Doubles” series.
Elizabeth De La Piedra is a Chicago-based photographer who captures authentic and intimate representations of her subjects. Her most recent projects addressed social taboos like the experience of being a transgender woman and the ways in which we view gender.
Savanna Ruedy is a New York-based photographer with an eye for fashion. She turns up the sass factor for all of her subjects in her commercial work, but it never feels forced. Whoever said that showing a little attitude was a bad thing? We live for it!
Alexandra Gavillet is a bicoastal photographer who brings her subjects to life, with an element of softness invoked in every frame. That said, Gavillet is not opposed to getting firm in her political stance; last year, she conceptualized the ”#UNMUTED” series, in which she films people attempting to start conversations on NYC subways about things like body positivity and feminism.
Azha Luckman is a photographer based in Oakland, California. We’re huge fans of her moody Tumblr-esque film photos that make everyone look like they’re in their element, whether that’s roaming the streets, chilling in a bedroom, or performing on a stage. Luckman is also the co-founder of SHADE zine.
Olivia Bee makes teen dreams live forever through her various visual mediums of work. She isn’t afraid to play around with gritty textures and light leaks to achieve the ultimate hazy vibes. Based between Brooklyn, New York, and Los Angeles, Bee has no filter when it comes to making a masterpiece out of her photo portraits whether the subject is Kesha, Katy Perry, London O’Connor, Natalie Westling, Tyler Wrent, or a couple of kids in love.
Monika Mogi is a photographer based in Tokyo who has us head over heels for her gorgeous, vintage-inspired intimate portraits. Looking at her photos has us thinking that she must’ve stolen the dream boards we created in middle school, so perfectly has she turned our fantasies into reality.
Charlotte Rutherford is a quirky photographer from London whose instantly iconic images are bold, vibrant, and fun. There is never a dull moment in her work, and this makes sense because in her world, women are in complete control.
Mayan Toledano celebrates the fluidity of girlhood. The New York-based artist’s dreamy images project tenderness in a way that doesn’t make her subjects look weak, but rather empowered. She is also the co-founder of It’s Me & You, a streetwear brand for feminists.
Carissa Gallo uses the camera as a window into “how humans interact with color, surfaces, and each other.” We feel right at home with her pastel-toned palette of soft shades.
Olivia Malone is another bicoastal photographer who splits her time between Los Angeles and New York. Her work examines the transition period between youth and adulthood with a focus on the feeling of freedom and independence.
Camilla Armbrust brings out a pure, natural sensibility in her work. The Paris-based photographer aims to present the juxtaposition of strength and vulnerability. The result is striking images that feel raw and real.
Amy Harrity is a freelance photographer based in California. Bathed in natural light, the subjects of her work convey an emotional self-awareness that is heartbreakingly human and all too relatable.
Maxime Imbert is a London-based photographer who captures the simple beauty of teenage girls. Her work channels a grungy vibe that makes us nostalgic for the ’90s and is the perfect Instagram hole to fall into when you’re feeling particularly goth.
Carlota Guerrero is the woman behind the beautiful body of visuals that make up Solange’s groundbreaking album A Seat At The Table. Guerrero features the beauty and strength of large groups of women in all of her work, keeping it au natural with plenty of neutral tones. The Barcelona-bred photographer also shot our amazing cover of Alia Shawkat for the December/January 2017 issue.
Digital artist Hannah Siegfried is a Chicago-based creative who calls the shots for IN Magazine and Clementine Zine. We love how she’s never hesitant to play with color, texture, and all things shiny. From portraits and stills to editorials, she presents unfiltered versions of people at their most relatable moments.
Dee Williams is a New York-based creator whose work captures color like no one else’s. Through her photography, she shows the power of women who are unapologetically themselves, whether they’re dressed down in nothing but lace lingerie or stunting in faux fur coats at the local bodega.
Nakeya Brown is a Washington, D.C.-based photographer who examines black hair politics within her work. If you ever need a dose of black love, make her website your go-to source. You can currently view her exhibit “More Than A Woman” at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
June Canedo is a New York-based photographer who puts sexuality, freedom, and nature at the forefront of the frame. We love how she captures the multidimensionality of her subjects; her thought-provoking visuals have the capacity to stop us in our tracks.
Courtney Yates’ stylized portraits offer an astounding level of intimacy; it often feels like the subjects are looking right at you.
Elizabeth Wirija is a New York-based photographer originally from Indonesia. Her photos feature powerful ladies in and around the city, making even the busiest, most tourist-friendly destinations appear almost barren. She specializes in identity design, art direction, film, branding, and social media. She is one of the creative forces behind Dark Matter, and recently shot our in-depth feature “Exploring The Twisted Politics Of Dreadlocks.”