This post was initially published on my old Zenfolio website in 2015.
Since I’ve gotten into street photography, I noticed that the community is dominated by dudes. Lots of dudes and bros. At the very least, men are given the most praise in the street photography community. Most of the interviews I’ve listened to and work I’ve seen showcased only men. This is really unfortunate. So I wanted to get an article out there about some awesome women who have hit the streets and produced fantastic bodies of work. Some are alive; some are not. This list is in no particular order. It was hard to create because I had to make some hard choices and leave out some other good photographers. Without further ado, here are 10 awesome female street photographers.
#1: Vivian Maier
Vivian Maier is one of the most interesting figures in street photography. She lived in Chicago for most of her life and worked as a nanny. When she wasn’t working she would be out on the streets taking photographs of people with her Rolleiflex camera. She never published her work and it wasn’t until her negatives were sold in an auction after her death in 2009 that she became recognized. Maier created really fascinating black and white photographs, primarily close up candid portraits of people in Chicago. I’ve found her work to be truly inspirational and I still look at the book Vivian Maier: A Photographer Found whenever I need a creative boost. For those interested in learning more about her, I highly recommend the documentary Finding Vivian Maier.
#2: Valerie Jardin
Many of you may know Valerie from her popular podcast Street Focus, which is hosted on the TWiP (This Week in Photo) network. Valerie Jardin is a French photographer living in Minneapolis. She spent many years working as a commercial photographer before dedicating herself to teaching and street photography full time. She runs a series of popular workshops around the world, most notably in Paris. Jardin strives for the “timeless look” in her black and white images, which is her preferred style (though she does also use color extensively, when appropriate). As a photographic workshop teacher, she has been able to travel to many places in the world, creating interesting images everywhere she goes. You can check out more of her work on her website and on Facebook. You can also check out her amazing podcast at the following link.
#3: Sarah Choi
Korean photographer Sarah Choi is rapidly becoming one of my favorite street shooters. Choi’s signature style is capturing candid photos of people walking through colorful backdrops in her home base of Hong Kong (though she also travels and posts street images from all over). Many street photographers shoot in black and white to avoid color distracting from their main subject, but for Choi, color itself is often the subject. She also has a keen eye for intricate lines when she is out photographing on the street. Recently, she has amassed a large following on Instagram, where she frequently posts new work. In addition to Instagram, you can find more of Choi’s photography on her website.
#4: Rut Blees Luxemburg
Rut Blees Luxemburg is a German photographer who lives in London. I first heard of her through her “Phantom” project on the Senegalese capital of Dakar. For this commissioned project, Blees Luxemburg rolled out her medium-format camera into the streets of Dakar to create long exposures of empty streets and neon signs. The resulting, eerily green-cast photographs portray an interesting side of this African metropolis. Her style of street photography really stands out from the standard approach of candid shots captured in bustling central business districts. You can check out more of her work on her website and her Tumblr page.
#5: Maria Plotnikova
The above image is one of my favorite street photographs of all-time. It was produced by Russian photographer, Maria Plotnikova, who has been living in South America since 2010. She worked as a sports photographer in Russia for a number of years. She has since traveled all over South America and produced some really amazing street photography. Plotnikova has a keen eye for framing up interesting color photographs and capturing interesting moments on the street. You can see more of her work on her website and on Flickr.
#6: Narelle Autio
Australian photographer Narelle Autio is one of the few women to enter the ranks of the famous street photography collective, In-Public. Autio has documented beaches and beach culture throughout her native Australia for a number of years, producing an interesting and unique body of work in the process. She employs the same roaming, candid approach to her beach photography as street photographers do in the concrete jungle. Interesting plays of light and shadow in her colorful images really drew me to her work and my favorite image is her “Spotted Dog” photograph. You can see more of her work on the In-Public website.
#7: Jun Ahn
Jun is a South Korean photographer who lives in Seoul. She has produced a number of interesting conceptual series, such as Gravity and Invisible Seascape. One of her most intriguing projects, Self Portrait, was featured alongside her profile in The World Atlas of Street Photography. In this project, Jun set up her camera on the tops of buildings and shot images of herself “until the memory card [was] full.” The project really captures the towering heights of modern cities and how these affect the human psyche. You can see more of Jun’s work on her website.
#8: Ying Tang
Ying Tang is a Chinese street photographer based in Shanghai. She studied and worked in the United States for a number of years before relocating to Shanghai in 2007. Since then, she has produced an incredibly impressive body of work, documenting a city in rapid transition. In particular, her black and white images have a real gritty tone and character to them that really catches the eye. She was one of the artists featured in the seminal compilation book, Street Photography Now. You can discover more of her work on her website.
#9: Aisha Augie-Kuta
Aisha Augie-Kuta is an awesome Nigerian photographer based in Abuja. She produces a lot of interest portraits, including some great street portraits. Photojournalism and candid street photography also comprise some of the work in her impressive portfolio. Looking through her Flickr stream I got the feeling that many of her photojournalistic images beautifully towed that fine line between art and documentary. You can find more of her work on her website.
#10: Helen Levitt
For the final photographer in this post, I decided to write a short profile on the legendary Helen Levitt. While her contemporary male counterparts, such as William Klein and Henri Cartier-Bresson, in the street photography communityget much more recognition, Levitt produced an amazing body of work that rivals the revered masters. She roamed the streets of her native Brooklyn for many years, capturing images of scenes that interested her. Levitt’s black and white street photography is not only great art, but represents a great historic viewpoint into a particular period in New York’s history. She passed away in 2009, but her legacy lives on. You can still find her work today in one of her published monographs or online.
Thanks for reading my article. I hope you’ll check out the work of these badass women (maybe you could even show your love by hiring them for a shoot or purchasing some of their work). If you know of any other female street photographers, feel free to send me an email or comment on one of my social media accounts. You can find my contact information and social media handles on my “Contact” page.