The photographic industry – its exhibitions, galleries, publications and auctions – employs thousands of women, but champions mostly men. To begin to redress the balance, here is a timely presentation of the work of over 30 female photographers working today. This book is predominantly a celebration of some of the most inquisitive, intelligent and daring photography being created now. The stories the photographers tell are the most pressing social, political and personal issues seen through the female lens.
Building upon Firecracker’s founding in 2011, this book brings together photography that encompasses an ecletic variety of styles, techniques and locations, from Alma Haser’s futuristic series of portraits that use origami to create 3D sculptures within the frame, to Laura El-Tantawy’s filmic and intensely personal series on political protest in Cairo. There is a recurring theme throughout the book that serves to unite these extraordinary women and their work: the exploration of marginalized individuals and under-discussed subjects, seen by fresh eyes.
A vivid showcase of work by more than thirty of the world’s leading contemporary female documentary photographers, presenting a cross-section of photographic disciplines and geographies; Ying Ang, Evgenia Arbugaeva, Poulomi Basu, Behnaz Babazadeh, Endia Beal, Haley Morris-Caferio, Juno Calypso, Natasha Caruana, Scarlett Coten, Bieke Depoorter, Maria Gruzdeva, Alma Haser, Mayumi Hosokura, Corinna Kern, Katrin Koenning, Anastasia Taylor-Lind, Diana Markosian, Diana Matar, Chloe Dewe Mathews, Zanele Mulholi, Aida Muluneh, Anja Niemi, Regine Petersen, Jill Quigley, Magda Rakita, Lua Ribeira, Mariela Sancari, Laura el-Tantawy, Newsha Tavakolian, Sanne De Wilde, Cemre Yesil, Yunya Yin and Chen Zhe.
Excerpt from Introduction by Fiona Rogers:
“Firecracker has provided me with a creative outlet for the extraordinary women I’ve met throughout my career, but photography is an industry that is undeniably crowded by(white) men. It’s by no means the only industry in which this happens, of course. Life imitates art and vice versa. With so few women represented at the highest levels in contemporary art, politics and the media, it’s no wonder there is a lack of diversity in photography – and it’s not just a gender issue either (but that’s another story, and indeed another book).
Of course, you cannot build an initiative about women without attracting comments about its exclusivity, or sexism, or encountering its reductive nature, and I’m often at odds with the contradictory nature of it all. Essentially, I’d like Firecracker to be a means of celebration. A celebration of photography, a celebration of game-changers, a celebration of women and, above all, a celebration of great work now. This book has become the vehicle for this celebration at this very moment, and maybe there will be others. I hope that within the final selection you too will delight in the diverse range of practices, from the abstract to the journalistic, from the deeply personal to the clinically scientific, and everything inbetween. I also hope that it may ‘spark’ some debate in the continuous dialogue about gender imbalance and female representation. That Firecracker pun was most definitely intended.”
Excerpt from Travelling Light, an essay by Max Houghton:
“I think what we see on these pages is a pursuit of freedom, both personal and artistic. These young women, from various continents, are documenting contemporary life, which will become part of future history. The photographers travel freely, for the most part, though not always without political or cultural constraint. They tell stories that move them and, in turn, move us. Within these scant pages are narratives of corruption, change, fantasy, inequality, love, conflict, prejudice, power, terror, fear and hope, told with empathy or wit, and always with an extraordinary aesthetic sensibility. In this way, the new history of the world unfolds without a template. Power is, slowly, changing hands and some of these hands are holding a camera, using it to bring light to ideas or things or people or places that might otherwise remain in the dark.”
Fiona Rogers is the founder of Firecracker and the Firecracker Photographic Grant. She is also Magnum Photos Global Business Development Manager. Rogers has a strong interest in supporting emerging talent and has participated in international platforms such as Rencontres d’Arles, Format Festival and the Singapore International Photography Festival. She has been a judge for various competitions including the Mack First Book Award and the Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography.
Max Houghton runs the MA Program in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. She writes, edits and curates, and collaborates with photographers.