To coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8th, in this article I’m sharing a list of inspiring female photographers, as recommended by members of my online community and Facebook group.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list (there are so many incredible female photographers, both alive and deceased), but my intention is to shine the spotlight on some of the women who are considered by some to be leading the way in the photography industry.
The common thread between all of these women is that they have been recognised by fellow photographers for the great work that they do. That may be in relation to their business success or their pioneering spirit, or in other ways such as how they inspire or support other photographers.
Let’s celebrate female photographers
My hope is that if you are interested in discovering female photographers who are well worthy of a follow, then this list will give you some useful recommendations.
Let’s support each other and recognise the incredible talent, passion and professionalism of some of the women within the international photography community this International Women’s Day and beyond!
Inspiring female photographers as recommended by YOU!
In alphabetical order, here are the nominated female photographers. Click on their name in the list to go to their Instagram handle or website. Where possible I have also featured an example of their work, as publicly shared on Instagram.
When a photographer has been nominated multiple times, I have published up to two of the nominations.
“I love her because she’s so young but she’s mastered the art of dog photography and her work is so inspiring.”The words of Ina Jalil of Ina J Photography
“Andrea has an amazing eye and her style is very unique, she’s a trendsetter rather than a trend follower which is quite rare in the photography world. I love her candid takes on baby and family photos, her images are vibrant and full of life.”The words of Stephanie Belton of Stephanie Belton Photography
“Anna has been my mentor since I started out in business. She’s really knowledgeable, supportive and experienced in everything photography business-related.”The words of Hannah Brooke of Hannah Brooke Photography
“Vienna, the summer of 1993. I was a student on a German course as part of my language degree and was fortunate to have afternoons free. So my friend Fiona and I would explore the nooks and crannies of the city. We stumbled across a little art gallery in a local church that had a photography exhibition on. I knew nothing about photography, didn’t recognise the name of the photographer, but liked looking at pictures so in we went.The words of Andrea Thornton of Andrea Thornton Photography
We entered at the same time as the exhibitor who was about to do a talk about her work. She was an earnest-looking American woman with wispy hair and glasses and walked around the gallery talking about the photographs filling in the stories behind the shoots – the one and only Annie Leibovitz. I was totally hooked.
Not only were the photographs amazing but the stories behind them were spine-tingling fascinating – her dad taking her to the airport, how she got Whoopi Goldberg in a bath of milk, or spending an afternoon photographing John and Yoko hours before he was killed.
Inspirational because of the breath-taking quality of the images, the generosity of her knowledge sharing, and the fact that she made it all sound so ordinary and natural that anybody could do the same….(not likely!).
“The fact that she is a household name speaks volumes. With a career that started of working for Rolling Stone magazine and photographing The Rolling Stones on tour there was no looking back for Annie Leibovitz. Her style developed into the go to portrait photographer in the late Eighties and Nineties. Mixing flash and ambient light to create images with strong narratives and drama that popped off the page in magazines and the walls of galleries.
Still photographing today with a recent retrospective of her fashion work, she has certainly made her mark as a celebrity photographer who is a celebrity in her own right!”The words of Marcus Ahmad of Marcus Ahmad Photography
“Chloe Barnett creates gorgeous golden photographs capturing gorgeous family connections. She is able to document beautiful moments that people will cherish forever. She has gorgeous warm tones and does the most stunning golden hour sessions. Her branding work is colourful, vibrant and full of movement.”The words of Laura Douglas of Laura Douglas Photography
“A female photographer I admire is a woman named Debra Snyder. She is a local photographer from my hometown, Leesburg, Florida. I am no longer in Florida, though. I moved to Georgia 16 years ago. I found Debra on Facebook and when I realized she was in my hometown, I sent her a message. Since then, she has been such a huge help in my journey.The words of Eva Reynolds of Eternal Compass
Her photography style is amazing, to say the least. She is so humble and strives to connect with her clients on a personal level. I hope to one day have my client list as full as hers. She is super nice, even to a fellow photographer. She doesn’t see fellow photographers as competition. I love that about her.”
“Her portraiture of dustbowl-era Americans remain some of the most touching and powerful I’ve seen. “Migrant Mother” (Florence Owens Thompson) – often imitated but rarely equalled in the 90 years since it was made – must surely be one of the most famous portraits of an ordinary person ever made. She co-founded Aperture magazine and shot for Life magazine, placing her at the vanguard of what we now understand as documentary photography.”The words of Nick Rawle of Nick Rawle Photography
“She took fashion photography by the scruff of the neck and in the Nineties was regularly found gracing the pages of The Face or Vogue Italia.
Starting out as an assistant for the infamous Nick Knight, she soon developed her own style of photographing highly choreographed images go “girls having fun”. Harking back to her love of the sixties, she, later on, made an acclaimed film devoted to Northern Soul, her sets could be a pillow fight in a suburban bedroom or speeding through the streets of Brighton on a Raleigh Chopper.
Instantly recognisable images, where the clothes are an accessory, that documented a time of Britpop and Cool Britannia.”The words Marcus Ahmad of Marcus Ahmad Photography
“Eva Rose is a birth photographer who is trying to turn people’s perception of birth on it’s head and celebrate the beauty of birth and normalise it.”The words of Franki Kershaw of Wonderful Chaos Photography
“Born in 1946, Eve Arnold was a lifetime member and founder of Magnum Photographic Agency. With an unwavering eye and fierce determination, she won over her subjects with a quiet and warm personality. Known principally for her candid portraits of women, in particular Marilyn Monroe on and off set.The words Marcus Ahmad of Marcus Ahmad Photography
Armed with a Leica camera, she documented the world around her in an unobtrusive way and sadly passed away in 2012. Her legacy remains as we can see from a recently published retrospective of her images of the aforementioned Marilyn Monroe.”
“Although now in my 47th year as a professional photographer, I still feel very much a student of photography. My first year of study began in 1976 and I was blessed to have a lecturer who introduced the class to the photographic masters such as Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Yousuf Karsh, Paul Strand, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston … the list goes on. All male photographers.
Through my own private study, I discovered the work of Eve Arnold. An American photojournalist, she was well known for her portraits of both the famous and not-so-famous and of those facing social injustice. However, it was her photographic sessions with Marilyn Monroe (six sessions took place over a 10-year period) that stick in my mind.
Eve truly captured moments in time with Monroe and you can’t help feeling that you’re there, present when the photographs were taken. Truly intimate, which can only be attained when the photographer gains the trust of the subject. From what I’ve learned, Eve did not work from a studio or use additional lighting – she worked with what was available to her. A master of her craft. She was also the first female member of the Magnum Press Agency. Her family keep her legacy alive to this day (she passed a few months short of her 100th birthday in 2012) through a dedicated website.”The words of Alan Inglis of Alan Inglis Photography
“Jamie Beck is a gorgeous photographer. After being a jobbing photographer for years in Manhattan she moved to Provence for a year and never left again. She now lives an idyllic life with her (photographer) husband and daughter, documenting their day to day wandering through provincial market towns, wafting through chateaus and eating the most gorgeous looking foods.The words of Sara Delaney of Surrey Social Stock Photography
She also hosts super informative lives and teach-ins on how she creates her arty still life vignettes with lots of behind the scenes tips to glean so you can learn to create your own.”
“As a leading boudoir photographer Jo never fails to make others feel special. Jo really does go above and beyond for every woman who reaches out to her. Her imagery is both creative and beautiful, always taking into consideration the feelings, thoughts and the mental health of her clients. When you book a boudoir shoot, you book an entire experience never forgotten.The words of Karen Massey of Karen Massey Photography
Not only does Jo have a wonderful client base that loves her, she is also an incredible business woman. An inspiration to many.”
“She creates the most artistic and stunning family and newborn images. Her studio photographs are gorgeously golden, deep and warm in the most wonderful pockets of light. Her family photographs are warm, tender and emotive and she is such a talented light chaser.”The words of Laura Douglas of Laura Douglas Photography
“JoJo is an amazing photographer. She has a lot of experience and many years in business. Regardless, Jojo is kind, generous, warm, and is always ready to help others. I’ve approached JoJo when she didn’t even know me, and she has always been the kindest. JoJo’s work is pure art and she is an inspiration for many other photographers.”The words of Vanessa Gomes of Vanessa Gomes Photography
“I admire Julia Kelleher. She happens to be a local photographer to me, her style is very different from mine but I respect what a great businesswoman she is. I love how open and honest she is when she teaches and I have learned so much for her. I also love how she always seems to be reinventing and pushing herself to do something new, like her painted photographs.”The words of Cambrae Chimpan of Photography by Cambrae
“Karen is a great wedding photographer and wonderful smiley welcoming presence in an industry often dominated by men. She oozes positivity, encourages and promotes fellow female photographers.”The words of Andrea Thornton of Andrea Thornton Photography
“Katy is such a funny personality, she lights the room wherever she goes! She is an amazing artist and her work is so stunning. She is very approachable and always kind and ready to help others. Katy is an incredible human and makes a positive difference in the photography community.”The words of Vanessa Gomes of Vanessa Gomes Photography
“I love Kaylee Greer from Dog Breath Photography because her work is just so vibrant and I love her personality and it shows through her images. She is very inspiring and I love listening to her new podcast with her fiancé Sam Haddix – Adventures in Dog Photography.”The words of Ina Jalil of Ina J Photography
“Kirsten Lewis is a documentary family photographer in the states who approaches each photoshoot like it’s a proper reportage job. She keeps it real, never interferes by asking people to turn lights on or stand near a window, or sit by a pretty bush for example. And she just keeps it real by thinking ahead on what frame she’s trying to set up, sits there and let’s the action unfold with little ones – and it always does unfold.The words of Louisa Peacock of Louisa Peacock Photography
She is a strict photojournalist, never manipulating the scene and letting children be children. Something I think is key to capturing excellent and candid family photographs.”
“One of my favourite female photographers. I first met Lucy when she was working for J.Crew and was launching the UK store in Regent Street. Way back then she had an amazing eye but moved on from her PR background to develop her gorgeous photography site which is chock full of the most sublime travel and lifestyle imagery. It just carries you away as you scroll, and she’s also got a fab print store where you can now purchase her prints.”The words of Sarah Delaney of Surrey Social Stock Photography
“A contemporary photographer who has worked across fine art and commercial disciplines, but is now Head of Photography at the University of South Wales, Cardiff. Magali’s eye for what could be called ‘quirky’ but telling detail and close cropping, very often of hands, clothes and everyday items, has been central to her work for decades, and she uses it to examine the relationships between communities, their home spaces, and cultural identities.”The words of Nick Rawle of Nick Rawle Photography
“Maggie Robinson is not only an incredible photographer but also an incredible businesswoman. She is fantastic at teaching others what she has learnt herself, how to maximise on sales, sell beautiful wall art to clients in a way that is irresistible to them. Providing them with fantastic experience and giving them what they want without them even realising it.”The words of Anna Kireeva of Anna Kireeva Photography
“Melanie is a perfectionist, inspirational educator, passionate and meticulous about her art. There is so much to admire about Melanie who taught me so much about newborn photography and the business of photography as a whole.”The words of Andrea Thornton of Andrea Thornton Photography
“Natalie runs really inspiring training courses for wedding photographers and has built her business from scratch as a single parent. Her advice on creating editorial group shots is second to none and she’s a really lovely, helpful, human being!”The words of Hannah Brooke of Hannah Brooke Photography
“I recommend Natasha Ince as she truly inspires me every single day. Her maternity portraits are breathtakingly beautiful. Not only is Natasha an amazing photographer she is also an incredibly nice person who is very humble and is always happy to offer advice where she can.
She is all about empowering women and this is exactly what she has done for me. She inspires me to be a better photographer and own my own identity not only in my business but in my personal life too. Her weight loss and fitness journey have also inspired others to start on their own journey. She is an amazing mom, friend, business owner, photographer, and goddess. She is truly an inspiration not only for myself but for women everywhere.”The words of Sharon Ann Graham of Sage and Eve Photography
“Nina is not only an amazing portrait photographer, but she’s also a great mentor and businesswoman. She’s managed to combine her creativity, marketing and people skills to help hundreds, actually probably thousands of other photographers. She’s got so much energy and generosity and has inspired me to raise my game many times!”The words of Stephanie Belton of Stephanie Belton Photography
“I am recommending Nina because not only is she an incredible photographer, but a wonderful mentor and trainer as well. I did an outdoor family photography course with Nina when she was over for the Northern Ireland Photography Convention last year. Her way of teaching is so clear and refreshing and she really lit a fire in me for this business. I follow her Photography on all social media as her style is something I aspire to. She is a real inspiration in the female Photographer world.”The words of Natasha Ellison of Natasha Ellison Photography
“Penny inspires me through the various projects she throws herself into. She’s combined her storytelling skills with her photography and sheds light on some very inspiring members of the local community.”The words of Stephanie Belton of Stephanie Belton Photography
“Sabine Doppelhofer is a multiple international award-winning family, children and commercial photographer. She won the This is Reportage Family photographer of the year in 2022 and she only shows faceless photos of children on the internet. Her work is outstanding and unique.”The words of Francesca Brecciaroli of Piccolino Weddings
“Sandy Puc’s work is very different from mine but she is such an outstanding businesswoman. She was the first educator I feel like I really learned from and I learned so much, from the basics to getting legal with my business, to pricing and more. She has such a wealth of knowledge to share. She also doesn’t shy away from sharing about real life, mistakes she has made, and personal things she has overcome.”The words of Cambrae Chimpan of Photography by Cambrae
“Sarah Mason’s films and photography is addictive. It’s the type of art that you just cannot tear your eyes from. She somehow sees absolute beauty in the most ordinary situations. A steaming cup of tea, washing on the line or dust dancing in the sunlight.The words of Hester Barnes of Hester Barnes Photography + Film
I think it is her amazing understanding of light and how it can change and add emotion to a scene that holds her audience that moment longer. She captures the beauty of the every day – without being whacky or embracing the latest trend.
She made a film about her uncle. It is the most heartfelt, warm, sad, loving 2 minutes of film I have ever watched. Not only is she a thoroughly lovely person, she’s a brilliant photographer and film-maker, and champions other photographers through her Instagram hashtag ‘storiesoftheeveryday’ and mentoring.”
“Sarah Mason is such a lovely and generous human, always willing to share her knowledge and help educate others with her equally lovely wife Suzi. She takes beautiful photos and makes beautiful films. She’s a huge inspiration.”The words of Franki Kershaw of Wonderful Chaos Photography
“Stephanie Belton is one of the photographers I admire the most – for me personally, she started me off on my photography journey over ten years ago. Still, I have also seen her continue to build an incredible community and train amateurs and professional photographers in the most supportive and inspiring way.The words of Nina Mace of Nina Mace Photography
On top of this, she has continued to grow and expand her own photography business and never stops evolving. Her commercial and branding photography, and growth via local networking, has been a model example of how to keep innovating and trying new genres.”
“I recommend Stormy Solis because her incredible work of art is truly one of a kind. The connection she is able to document through her photos is something that photographers aim to achieve. She has inspired so many photographers around the world with her work and has even helped others who were on the brink of giving up.”The words of Cherry Unite of Pixzara Photography
Susana Barbera is a Spanish wedding documentary photographer, international photography speaker and mentor all over the world. I love her work. Her work is pure art, coming from the heart.
The words of Francesca Brecciaroli of Piccolino Weddings
Her images are mainly in black and white, full of passion and emotions. She is a wedding photographer with the style of a street photographer and that’s amazing. She has achieved 31 Fearless Photographers awards, and she recently took part in an online exhibition called Women Street Photographers.
“Tamara Peel was inspirational to me at the beginning of my photography career. Tamara trained me as a photographer to see natural light and how to use it. Since then, Tamara has photographed me and my daughters for the last 10 years. Her personality is light and uplifting which I think comes across in her photography style. Tamara ‘sees’ you and captures something that you feel is deep inside but shouting to come out!”The words of Victoria La Bouchardiere of Victoria La Bouchardiere Photography
“I admire Tianna J Williams. I love her work. I love her use of bold colours and beautifully patterned fabrics. But what I admire most about her is how open and kind she is. I approached her at a photography show and she didn’t know me at all and she was more than happy to give me advice and help. She was warm and caring and just happy to help in whatever way she could. She comes across as a very real and down to earth person and I think that shows in her work.”The words of Daniella Staub of Daniella Staub Photography
Tish Murtha has passed away but her daughter, Ella Murtha, continues to share and promote her mother’s work in her memory and to highlight social disadvantages.
The 3rd of 10 children, Tish Murtha grew up in the North, South Shields and later Newcastle Upon Tyne. With a large family, possessions were few but resourcefulness and creativity were encouraged. Tish worked in various jobs after leaving school at 16. Four years later she took a photography night course set up by David Hurn (Magnum member) who thought that she should take up documentary photography. Tish Murtha began to photograph the lives of those closest to her.
Projects involving communities that were marginalised caught her attention. Forming bonds of trust with communities gained her access. She felt she had an obligation towards people and problems within her environment (such as youth unemployment) and documentary photography could highlight the social disadvantages.The words of Victoria La Bouchardiere of Victoria La Bouchardiere Photography
“Vivian Maier was an American Street photographer. However, her work was only discovered in 2009 after her death. I personally, only became aware of her street photography after watching the documentary ‘Finding Vivian Maier’ in 2015. I was simply blown away.
I’d always pointed towards the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson as the best street photographer I was aware of. After watching ‘Finding Vivian Maier’ that all changed. It helped that I have a pictorial love affair with New York, whether in stills or in the movies. I also love everything about the culture there in the 50’s and 60’s. Vivian captured the essence of those periods perfectly in her photography.
The fact that she was self-taught is also a wonderful discovery. Learning from her mistakes along the way. And the fact that she took over 100.000 images and yet had 6,000 rolls of film undeveloped. I’ve asked myself often; what have I been doing all these years? For anyone who hasn’t seen the documentary (available on Amazon), I highly recommend you look it up. You don’t need to be a photographer to enjoy it. A wonderful life story in its own right.”The words of Alan Inglis of Alan Inglis Photography
A selection of inspiring female photographers from around the world
A big thanks must go to all those who contributed to this blog. You jumped at the chance to tell others about the female photographers you admire, and it’s much appreciated!
If you didn’t nominate someone in time for your suggestion to be included, do share in the comments below any inspiring female photographers that you would have put forward. Let’s keep this going!
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