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6 Iconic Female Photographers

Curators’ Corner

6 Iconic Female Photographers

A black and white snapshot of a despondent mother with her two children taken in 1936; a peaceful photo of Gandhi sitting behind a spinning wheel; a portrait of James Joyce donning spectacles and a cane. What do these iconic photos have in common? Their photographers were all women.

The field of photography may be experiencing a period of rapid innovation and disruption thanks to new technology, but one area of stagnation still remains: gender parity. Just like in many other professional fields, female artists, including photographers, are still struggling to receive the same opportunities and compensation as their male counterparts, according to Time.

While the movement to close the gender gap wages, we’re paying tribute to six of our favorite female photographers of all time. As you browse our roundup, think about your favorite female photographer and share her work with us via the social media buttons below!

Inge Morath

Appearing in Life’s December 1957 issue, Inge Morath’s playful photo of a llama poking its head out of a car window masterfully marries the exotic with the mundane. Apparently, the llama, which went by the name, Linda, was on her way home after an ABC studios appearance.


Ilse Bing

Paris wasn’t the 1930s epicenter of photography for the nothing: Among famous photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray, and Brassai was Ilse Bing, whose mastery of the handheld Leica camera earned her a reputation as the “Queen of Leica.”


Dorothea Lange

Of all the artwork produced during the Great Depression, it’s possible none other than Dorothea Lange’s Human Erosion in California captures the hopelessness with such poignancy. Lange would go on to take photographs for President Roosevelt and Life.


Imogen Cunningham

Famous for her black and white portraits capturing the female body, and for her “softly sensual botanical studies,” Imogen Cunningham transformed the art of modern photography with her ability to bravely capture sexuality before it was mainstream to do so.


Berenice Abbott

She may have launched her career as a sculptor in the 1920s, but Berenice Abbott would go on to document the evolution of Paris’ cultural scene alongside Man Ray and others. Her portrait of James Joyce remains one of her most iconic works today.


Margaret Bourke-White

Perhaps one of the most iconic photos of all time is Margaret Bourke-White’s Gandhi, taken for Life in 1946 when the political pacifist weighed only 110 pounds. As a photojournalist known for her courageous ability to document conflict, Bourke-White was allowed to photograph Gandhi only if she also learned how to spin.