The oversight of women in the history of photography comes from a long tradition of undermining their status. They were acknowledged as models or assistants, not so much as talented artists.
Even the 'Kodak Girl' commercials, confined women's use of a camera to a hobby as it was their duty to be the memory keepers of the family.They were not to experiment with photography as a tool of documentation or a space of self-expression.
The perception of women as a subject has also changed over time. Up until the 1960s and 70s society saw women only as mothers and wives, confined to a very specific role.
Yet, since the dawn of time, they never ceased to transfigure - through their actions or words - our society. From the very beginning of photography, they never relented escaping from the societal norms to question and document the world.
This 23rd edition of AAP Magazine sought, not only to acknowledge the strength, beauty and resilience of women around the world, but also their artistic poetry and talent as demonstrated by the 19 women photographers selected.
The 25 artists chosen for this edition, regardless of gender, gave us - though their different approaches and techniques - a powerful tribute to women.
Selecting the winners was certainly not an easy task, but overall, we hope you will all enjoy this beautiful collection of amazing images of women.
The Winner of AAP Magazine 23 Women is Susanne Middelberg (Netherlands) with the series Daylight
Susanne from the series Daylight © Susanne Middelberg
In my portraits I am looking for honesty and vulnerability. I believe that vulnerability makes us nicer human beings and that this makes the world a little more friendly and more understanding. People who show themselves vulnerable give the other the confidence that they themselves may be who they are.
I am most fascinated when I can see opposite qualities of a person at the same moment.
I find this exciting because people are complex. I hope that the portrait touches something of the viewer himself.
In this series, I chose to use only daylight to make the image as natural as possible.
Susanne Middelberg 's Website
Susanne Middelberg on Instagram
All about Susanne Middelberg
The Second Place Winner is Aline Smithson (USA) with the series Arrangement in Green and Black
Arrangement in Green and Black #10 from the series 'Arrangement in Green and Black, Portrait of the Photographer's Mother' © Aline Smithson
Inspired by the composition in Whistler's class portrait of his mother, Arrangement in Green and Black is a series that examines compositional relationships, unassuming details, and humor. Using my own mother as muse,
this series was produced as hand painted silver gelatin prints.
Aline Smithson 's Website
Aline Smithson on Instagram
All about Aline Smithson
The Third Place Winner is Maura Allen (USA) with the series Natural Order
Ranch Sage from the series 'Natural Order' © Maura Allen
For centuries, the stories, images and ethos of the American West have been dominated by men—the lone cowboy, the hardworking rancher-with women relegated to the role of romantic ingénue or rodeo queen. Women's roles and responsibilities in the West are (and were) significant, but rarely documented or celebrated. That blind spot is surprising considering the history of photography and settling of the American West are inextricably linked. In my project "Natural Order" I seek to right the balance by telling a different story, one with women of the West in their rightful place, front and center.
Maura Allen's Website
Maura Allen on Instagram
Aaron Deppe (Germany)
June at Hasenheide from the series 'German Youth' © Aaron Deppe
3 Young Women posing for the camera at Volkspark Hasenheide in Berlin.
Anna Laza (Romania)
Metaphysical Body Landscapes © Anna Lazareva
My childhood I've spent at my grandmother's house in Romania, near Carpathian Mountains. Seeing human's strong bond with earth, observing nature, landscapes around influenced my understanding of earth beauty and mens connexion with it.
All being is something whole, indivisible. Earth, sky, plants, fruits, mountains, rivers, men, women, day, night- all merged together and flows into each other. This process is infinite and harmonious. Men came from earth, lives on earth and will return to earth. And landscapes of earth is seen in body curves. Growing up I moved to live in big cities, my grandmother passed away and I felt loss of spiritual connexion with nature. For reconnect I start to search the Landscapes in body in my photography.
Lenka Klicperová (Czech Republic)
ISIS Mother from the series 'Women of Islamic State' © Lenka Klicperová
I first went to war-torn Syria in August 2015. I witnessed the Kurds fighting against the Islamic State on the front lines. When the Kurds also liberated the capital of Caliphate Raqqa, I finally met them - women who in a special way frightened and fascinated me. Women of Islamic State fighters, the wives of the most dangerous men on this planet. I met them first in January 2018, when I got permission to talk to captured women at Ain Issa camp near Raqqa. In this place I met Zama from Dagestan, Lena from Germany, Sonja from Italy, Khadija from Tunisia… There was the whole world, in one small detention camp. In early 2019 I watched, along with the Kurdish SDF troops, the last battle in Baghouz, small town in Syria. During the fighting, a lot of women and children fled from the front line. The Kurds gathered them in the desert behind the front line. They were taken on trucks to another detention camp. Here they are up today. Nobody knows what to do with them. They are only waiting for one - when a new Islamic state arises.
Andrea Torrei (Italy)
Anne Berry (United States)
Lost in thought from the series 'About Women' © Andrea Torrei
Reindeer Moss, Cumberland Island from the series 'Land of the Yaupon Holly' © Anne Berry
The Land of the Yaupon Holly refers to the undeveloped barrier islands off of the Georgia coast, where the Guale people made a ceremonial tea from the holly leaves. In this place of extreme beauty one finds truth and mystery, and hope. Berry is deeply concerned with conservation and global warming. She makes photographs that speak to the heart and the imagination, evoking empathy and a desire to protect, then she directs the viewer to the One Hundred Miles foundation for the literal facts on threats and how to help.
Anne Berry's photographs investigate the animal world, the domain of childhood, and the terrain of the Southern wilderness. She also explores themes and metaphors from literature. She was recently named to the "Hot 100 of 2021" list by YourDailyPhotograph.com. Berry has just completed her newest publication of photographs of primates in small European zoos, Behind Glass, 2021
Joan-Ramon Manchado (Spain)
Passers-by from the series 'At the Bus Stop' © Joan-Ramon Manchado
"Passers-by" is an ongoing project consisting of unposed portraits taken in public spaces in different cities around the world. A hybrid work that combines digital capture and cyanotype.
Prescott Lassman (United States)
Black Goggles from the series 'Domesticated Animals' © Prescott Lassman
The Domesticated Animals series explores issues of identity, repression, connection, conformity, and the constructed self in modern American society.
Silvia Alessi (Italy)
Makiko Sugawa from the series Maze Of Metamorphosis © Silvia Alessi
Makiko Sugawa is an artist, an illustrator, also of clothing. Because of a cancer, she lost her left leg completely, well above the knee. And in fact, her prosthesis must be tied to her waist with a belt. She knows that clothes and fashion can have a big impact on how a woman feels about herself. So if a woman with a disability can be stylish, other girls in the same condition can follow her example. This conviction led her to parade on the catwalks using dr. Usui's splendid creations.
Julie Fowells (United States)
Julie T’s feet from the series 'Embrasure' © Julie Fowells
I'm terribly shy by nature, so a camera works for me as a kind of shield - a way to protect myself from the subject, as if the lens functions to insulate my insecurities. Only behind the safety of that glass do I feel comfortable focusing my gaze on another person. Somehow holding a camera offers a way to legitimize my presence, allowing me to interact with people in a more intimate way.
The images in this series present a view of each subject they hadn't intended to reveal. By capturing an element of private uncertainty, a hint of elusiveness, they attempt to tell something about the subject through the trace of an expression or the tail end of a gesture, explorations into my conviction that the way one holds one's body can reveal as much about a person as the representation of an unambiguous gaze.
Francis Willey (Canada)
Shima from the series 'Neopictorialist ' © Francis Willey
(Shima) Dwennimmen is the name of an ancient African Adinkra symbol, which means, strength, humility, learning and wisdom. All my images are 35mm film, traditional photography.
Jo Ann Chaus (United States)
Green Dress from the series 'Conversations with Myself' © Jo Ann Chaus
Conversations with Myself, a body of work in which I assume the roles of assorted women, from the era of my birth, 1950's, donning garments that previously belonged to a close relation. I conjure and perform as each of them, exploring through their embodiment, multifaceted aspects of the female/human psyche, exploring the recognition and progression of self awareness and identity, all the whilst braiding the past with the present. The work is ongoing, as I continue to look back, in, out and ahead, and consider my presence at home, in the environment, and as a citizen of the world at large.
Jo Ann Chaus
Giuseppe Cardoni (Italy)
Paris 2021 from the series 'Women are still beautiful' © Giuseppe Cardoni
This series is a tribute to Garry Winogrand, famous author of the book 'Women are beautiful'
Sandra Klein (United States)
Creative Growth from the series 'Noisy Brain' © Sandra Klein
Creative Growth is part of my series entitled Noisy Brain.
Using self-portraiture to examine the layers of my obsessions and anxieties, these constructed photographs provide insight into elements that affect my 21st century brain.
Vicky Martin (United Kingdom)
Ruby Red from the series 'Selfhood' © Vicky Martin
Ruby Red', as part of the series Selfhood, depicts the search for a sense of independent identity crafted through outward appearance in relation to the female menstrual cycle. The visual contrast between the deep red and pure white of the image depicts the conflict between the traditional ideas of female sexuality perpetuated by society, and the need the woman feels to hide her vulnerability, shame, and pain behind the traditional tropes of female beauty: the hair. However, the image of the messed cloud of hair symbolises the inner processes of the female, namely the menstrual cycle, that are perceived as grotesque and thereby need to be contained within a shell of purity and unblemished beauty. Although deviating from the unnuanced standard beauty norms, symbolised by the prim and proper red ribbon, women's fertility and sexuality goes so far beyond what can be expressed through the eyes, on the face, or through physical appearance, and the inner, maybe even repressed, beauty of the female body should also be celebrated.
Pat Rose (United States)
Sophia With Roses from the series 'Ode to Beauty' © Pat Rose
I made this portrait in collaboration with my lovely model, Sophia, whose interesting presence and striking beauty lent so much to the series of emotional portraits we made during our photo session. We shot in natural light at a large window in my own little pop-up studio with a simple backdrop, my Canon EOS 6D and Sigma 50mm lens. I loved shooting in natural light for our photo session on a gorgeous morning with a bright but cloudy Portland sky, which always makes for beautifully diffused light. I used Lightroom and Photoshop in post processing to make adjustments to skin details, overall color and contrast to achieve the look of understated elegance I wanted. I added some subtle texture to the background to lend a somewhat painterly quality to the portrait.
B Jane Levine (United States)
American Beauty from the series 'Nod of Recognition' © B Jane Levine
Nod of Recognition is a series of portraits of strangers captured on the streets of New York. I walk, observe, and photograph people, following the path of light as it moves around the city. I highlight a moment in time juxtaposed against today's incessant world. I use the light and composition to frame the subject in this found setting. I attempt to capture authentic moments when my subject is unaware of my presence. The people in my photographs all project a characteristic, gesture, or physical trait that I recognize in myself. This series is a composite of pieces of myself - a self-portrait.
Marna Clarke (United States)
Hands on Chest from the series 'Growing Old' © Marna Clarke
This was the first image I made in 2010 when I decided to photograph myself. I wanted to see what I looked like, a photo that I could hold in my hand not a fleeting image in a mirror. I tried several gestures with each hand and with both hands. When I saw the results, I knew this was the one that expressed for me what it feels like to be a woman, the strength, compassion, resilience, and softness that have sustained me through the years.
Marsha Guggenheim (United States)
Self Portrait 8 from the series 'Without a Map' © Marsha Guggenheim
How does one move through life with the scars of the past? When I was ten, my mother died unexpectedly from a heart attack. I couldn't understand where she went or when she would return. Just as I began to comprehend this loss, my father died. I was without support from my family and community. I was lost.
Without a Map reimagines this time that's deeply rooted in my memories. Visiting my childhood home, synagogue and family plot provided an entry into this personal retelling. Working with family photos, creating new images from my past and turning the camera on myself, I found the means to evoke, reinterpret and address unanswered questions born from early imprints that were buried long ago.
Frank Herfort (Germany)
Babushka from the series 'Russian Fairy Tales' © Frank Herfort
Babushka Aleksandra, at home of her daughter Elena, the village doctor near the city Bologoye. Aleksandra warms up and wears the famous or typical Russian Valenki (felt boots).
Lisen Stibeck (Sweden)
Milla from the series 'Women in the flow' © Lisen Stibeck
Women in the 'flow' is a tribute to all visible and invisible women in the world and their spoken and unspoken voices. Strong faces, hidden identities, subtle shadows and fragments reflecting memories of love, youth and beauty... a narrative of women between centuries and cultures, between ancient traditions and brand-new identities. These images were made from polaroids new and old film, both positive and negative part. Some are mixed with one part that is hand-painted. These pictures were taken in Sweden, Morocco and Iceland.
Monica Testa (Italy)
Sister Maria Grazia from the series 'Habito' © Monica Testa
HABITO. From the Latin: to live, to carry habitually, to be used to keeping, but also to stay, find oneself, hold back, stop ...
The project was born with the intention of keeping alive the memory of a small religious congregation: the Ancelle della Provvidenza" for the salvation of the Child, of which they are now the last six sisters.
I wanted to honor their lives made of dedication to good, making them, at the same time, active protagonists.
This religious Congregation had humble origins and a gradual development in Milan, in the last whole of the 19th century, thanks to the work of the Milanese priest Don Carlo San Martino; in the small group the spirit of piety, humility and obedience was cultivated, not separated from a great self-denial in the service of poor and abandoned children.
"The Aunts", as the numerous little girls who have received hospitality, care and education from them today, called them, are all at a good goal in life and still humbly to teach us all the deep sense of devotion and availability towards others.
I took photographs that become precious, intimate, above all true moments in a world that increasingly tends to forget those who gave their lives for others: praying, teaching, building.
HABITO is a tribute to wonderful people who can only be the example to imitate and follow; it is the place of memories of those who have made their lives of the Faith and also becomes the place to transmit these memories, a witness to be passed on to future generations, so as not to forget and to continue to cultivate love for their neighbor, love for the life.
Constance Jaeggi (United States)
Star from the series 'The Devils' © Constance Jaeggi
Colette performs a star during a training session at the Devil's Horsemen. I shot my project The Devils during the nationwide lockdowns while isolating at the Devil's Horsemen in the UK. The Devil's Horsemen is a leading supplier of horses and stunt men and women to the film industry.