Women Street Photographers is a new anthology that gathers together some of the most evocative images of the world unfolding around us
Elena Alexandra, “Sleeping Beauty” (2019)
This picture almost never got taken. On a night in which Elena Alexandra’s head and heart were “full of dark feelings“, she was travelling on a train and spotted this sleeping woman, her bright red clothing so striking on the gloom of the carriage. “Her clothing was so vibrant. Something inside me said very quietly, ‘What if you take a picture?’” recalls Alexandra. But she fought the impulse, worried about attracting negative comments from the other passengers; unsure she even had the energy to pick up her camera and capture the image of the prone figure.
Weeks later, this photo became the photographer’s best-known image and the experience gave her encouragement. “It is a reminder to trust the voice of my real self in my darkest moments,” she says. “To live authentically and courageously, no matter how lost and powerless I may feel.”
Hazel Hankin, “Tokyo Smokers” (2007)
As a teacher at City College of New York, Hazel Hankin is fascinated by the visual possibilities and the spectacle of urban life. “My three weeks in Tokyo were a street photographer’s dream,” says the native New Yorker. This particular image was her favourite of the trip, captured as she waited at this designated smoking area near Shinjuku train station. “I sat down against a wall and shot the changing tableaus for more than half an hour, waiting and hoping for all the elements to come together in the frame at a peak moment,” she says. “My patience was rewarded!”
Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, “Mind Flayer” (2017)
Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet loves to train her lens on the occurrences of everyday life; the fleeting moments that seem ordinary, but become important to her when captured on film.
She took this particular photograph on a trip to Coney Island. “I was walking on the boardwalk when I saw this man,” she recalls. ”I was lucky that he didn’t stop stretching when I reached the perfect distance for shooting. I was so delighted when I got the photo. It made my day.”
Orna Naor, “Women of the Sea” (2019)
Documentary photographer Orna Naor focuses on emotional issues and moments. She caught this life-affirming image on a trip organised by Israeli women from the Machsom Watch – an organisation dedicated to facilitating visits to the beach for Palestinian women and children. “For most of them it’s for the first time in their lives,” explains the Tel Aviv-based photographer. ”Their fear and anxiety soon change to joy and laughter.”
Sandrine Duval, “In the Mood” (2018)
Sandrine Duval is drawn to take pictures of unusual, mysterious subjects. The Paris-based photographer also loves to travel, which led her to a trip to Georgia back in 2018. Arriving in the small town of Sighnaghi (located in the wine region of Kakhetia), she decided to explore. Camera in hand, Duval set out on foot. Submerged in a thick fog, she walked through the ghostly, abandoned streets with the lonely, alienated feeling which sometimes accompanies travelling, when you’re isolated in a new and inhospitable destination. “I couldn’t see further than a hundred yards,” Duval remembers. “The atmosphere was ghostly; it was captivating and melancholic, but very photogenic.” In a moment that felt fixed in time, life appeared. “I saw this lady emerging from nowhere out of the mist, next to an old car,” she says. “The dog in the foreground created the only animation. I had to capture it, inspired by this suspended moment of movement.”
B Jane Levine, “Red Upsweep” (2019)
Taking pictures on the streets of her hometown, New York, B. B Jane Levine’s images form a portrait of her life in fleeting moments; a visual diary in fragments. Recalling this photograph – the “flash of a few seconds” in which she was struck by a passerby’s red hair, ‘radiant in the afternoon sun” – Levine says, “She has a perfect upswept hairdo, similar to the way my grandmother wore her hair, held in place with hairspray and bobby pins. Her hair and my memory are as fixed as the architecture in the background.”
Regula Tschumi, “A Dance of Joy” (2019)
Suspended in a moment of unselfconscious joy, Regula Tschum caught these two eleven-year-old Ghanaian girls dancing in the street on film, dressed in the special dresses usually reserved for church or a celebration. Though they were aware of Regula Tschum taking their picture, it didn’t encroach on their playing – if anything, she feels it may be added to their experience. Perhaps knowing something‘s being captured for posterity enables us to inhabit the present more fully? Or maybe they just relished an audience. “They were not distracted by my camera,” the photographer recalls. “ Maybe my presence made them even more happy and helped to make their game a joyful dance.”
Gulnara Samoilova, “Cloud Eaters” (2018)
New York-based Gulnara Samoilova travels back to Russia annually and visits the Republic of Bashkortostan, where she likes to document the everyday lives of the people who inhabit its small villages. “I always visit Sabantuy, an annual festival that takes place all over the region. It is my favourite place to photograph,” says Samoilova, a fine art and street photographer, educator, and curator who also founded the Women Street Photographers travelling exhibition.
This particular picture is from a series by Samoilova called Cloud Eaters. She says, “ I spotted these two kids standing in the middle of a large grassy field and passionately eating the white cotton candy against a backdrop of fluffy clouds as if they had just pulled those clouds from the sky. They didn’t even notice me.”
Nina Welch-Kling, “Untitled” (2018)
The sight of this anonymous figure, his head shrouded by steam, was captured in Midtown Manhattan and Madison Avenue one autumn day in 2018 by Nina Welch-King. The steam-venting stacks – a unique feature of New York City – create this dramatic chiaroscuro effect.
According to Welch-Kling, the stacks are “a constant reminder of what lies below the surface – to this day, countless arteries of pipes deliver heat to much of the city. Above the surface, the vapour creates a wonderful filter that allows the photographer to isolate people and create a sense of mystery.”
Graciela Magnoni, “Untitled” (2018)
“This could have been a choreographed advertisement for a fancy brand! But, in fact, it was a candid and spontaneous moment in bucolic Punjab,” says Graciela Magnoni, recalling this miracle of light and form that presented itself as a truck full of beautiful Sikh schoolboys, unaffected in their school uniform, happened to pass by on their way to a religious after-school festival looking like a highly-considered scene from a Wes Anderson film. “I was struck by the contrast between the delicacy of their manner, their well-kept uniforms, and the rural aspect of Punjab. I loved the fact that they were not wearing shoes,” says Magnoni, who worked as a press photographer in the USA and Brazil for over ten years before embarking on a long-term photo project in Punjab.
Birka Wiedmaier, “Untitled” (2019)
Photographing a photographic tradition, Birka Wiedmaier, captured this sight of newlyweds in the Turkish beach town of Şile. They were having their portraits taken – a common custom – but Weidmaier was captivated by the more unusual aspects of the particular scene.
“Why was this boat chosen as the location? Why was she positioned like this?” she puzzles over the bride, resplendent at the bow of such a modest vessel. “It felt surreal to see the bride with her beautiful dress draped over this small boat, in contrast to her surroundings. She did not move much and waited to be given her flowers. Everything seemed to revolve around her; the groom can hardly be identified.”