Heroines Past

Research Resources Archive

Delve into our online archive to find out more about the photography pioneers of the past

In order to make space for the women photographers of today, we highlight the women who have been obscured over the years and celebrate the strides they made.  Find out more in our online archive – researched, written and curated by our volunteers.

Historical Heroines

Women photographers active at some point between the late 18th Century and the mid-20th Century

Legacy Heroines

Women photographers active at some point between the mid-20th Century and the present day.

Discover

If you’re excited to explore but are unsure of where to start, take a look at some of our Heroine Past blogs.

As part of its mission, the organisation tracks down, preserves and celebrates archives that might have been forgotten or mislaid, which involves working with numerous estates, from Homai Vyarawalla, India’s first female photojournalist, to Hong Kong photographer Nancy Sheung.

How to buy an Eve Arnold image for only £30 . . .  and other initiatives to champion female photographers, The Financial Times

Latest Posts

Julia Diament Pirotte

Polish photojournalist Julia Diament Pirotte (1908 –2000) is known for her work in Marseille during the Second World War, when she documented the French Resistance and life under the occupation from 1940-1945....

Alice Austen

Alice Austin (1866-1952) was one of the first women to work outside the photographic studio, documenting New York City as well as intimate relationships between Victorian women...

Marta Hoepffner

Marta Hoepffner (1912–2000) was a German experimental artist and abstract photographer. She was a pioneer of photomontage and the photogram in the 1930s and the kinetic art movement in the 1960s....

Toni Frissell

Born into a wealthy New York banking family, legendary photographer Antoinette ‘Toni’ Frissell Bacon (1907 – 1988) was introduced to photography in her twenties by her filmmaker brother Varick....

Ruby Washington

As the first African-American woman hired as a staff photographer for the New York Times, Ruby Washington (1952-2018) was a true pioneer....

Zofia Rydet

For Zofia Rydet (1911-1997), photography was the perfect medium to express all human stories; through her work, she felt that she was capturing the essence of what it meant to be human....

Portrait Evelyn Hofer (Detail), 1951

Evelyn Hofer

The German-born American artist Evelyn Hofer (1922-2009) is considered one of the foremost female photographers of the ‘New Objectivity’ style....

Emma Rayson Barton

Emma Barton (1872–1938) was an English Pictorialist portrait photographer active between 1899 and the end of WW1 and at the height of her fame she was the most published female photographer of her time....

Jane Bown CBE

In 1949 Jane Bown (1925–2014) began working for The Observer newspaper. It was a partnership that would last over 60 years and lead to her photographing the leading political, cultural and royal figures of the day....

Marion Post Wolcott_Women_In_Photography_Black_And_White_Photography_Hundred_Heroines

Marion Post Wolcott

After studying under Trude Fleischmann in Vienna, Marion Post Wolcott (1910-1990) traveled back to America to document the rural south...

Thereza Story-Maskelyne_Women_In_Photography_Black_And_White_Photography_Hundred_Heroines

Thereza Rucker Story-Maskelyne

Coming from an intellectual Welsh family who made early strides in science and photography, Thereza Story-Maskelyne (née Dillwyn Llewelyn) (1834-1926) is a true pioneer...

Olive Edis

Mary Olive Edis (1876-1955) opened her first studio with sister in Norfolk, UK. She was one of the first women to accepted as a member of the RPS....

Alexandra Boulat

Alexandra Boulat (1962-2007) photographed wars from women's perspectives, paving the way for other women in photography to do the same....

Trude Fleischmann

Trude Fleischmann (1895 – 1990) was an Austrian-born American photographer, one of a group of young, confident, Jewish, female photographers opening their own studios in Vienna after World War I....

Shima Ryū

Ryu Shima (1823-1900) took what is the earliest known photograph to be created by a Japanese woman in 1864, and it was a wet-plate of Kakoku, her husband....

Aubry Le Blond Elizebeth Le Blond

Elizabeth Le Blond

The Irish-heiress turned mountaineering photographer, Elizabeth Le Blond (1860-1934) has not only been credited by being one of the first people to reach many European summits but also as one of the first female filmmakers....

Miss Woods, circa 1905 © Estate of Minna Keene : courtesy Stephen Bulger Gallery

Minna Keene

Often referred to as Canada’s first professional woman photographer, Minna was born in Germany in 1861....

Yva

One of the premier fashion and portrait photographers of the 20s and 30s in Germany, ‘Yva’ produced elegant fashion portraits, photomontages and advertising work in Berlin from 1925 until the Nazi’s closed her studio. She was killed in...

Anne Fischer, ca. 1935-36

Anne Fischer

German photographer Anne Fischer (1914 - 1986) left Germany in 1937 to become a fine portrait photographer and to specialise in dance photography....

Portrait of Elisabeth Meyer by Ernest Rude. Courtesy of Preus Museum

Elisabeth Meyer

Elisabeth Meyer (1899 – 1968) was an early Norwegian photojournalist of the 1920s and 30s who documented her daring trips to Iran and India, as well as the local Sami people of Finnmark in her native Norway....

Marie Høeg

A prominent member of the Norwegian feminist movement in Horton, Marie Høeg along with partner Bolette Berg, experimented with gender identity and performance....

Grace Robertson

Grace Robertson OBE (1930 – 2021) was a leading British photojournalist who highlighted the stories of ordinary women....

Helen Chadwick, 1953 - 1996

Helen Chadwick

A pioneer of photography and installation art, Helen Chadwick (1953-1996) was one of the first women to be nominated for the Turner Prize....

Fay Godwin, 1931 - 2005

Fay Godwin

A pioneer of black and white photography, Fay Godwin (1931 - 2005) was renowned for her landscapes of the British coastline and countryside....

Lou Lander Cat. 96

Lou Landauer

German photographer Lou Landauer, who was active during the 1930s - 1950s, is recognised today for her photograms of botanical subjects....

Maud Sulter, Self Portrait, 2002, 828 x 560 mm, large format Polaroid photograph. The Estate of Maud Sulter ©The Estate of Maud Sulter.

Maud Sulter

Maud Sulter was a contemporary fine artist, photographer, poet, educator and curator. Her work explored her Ghanaian heritage....

Olive Cotton

Olive Cotton was one of the most important 20th century Australian modernist photographers. Based in Cowra, her pioneering work spanned the 1930s and 40s...

Nancy Sheung

Nancy Sheung

Chinese photographer Nancy Sheung was determined to break all the rules and conventions of her time, with unusual means to success....

Self Portrait Vivian Maier, New York, 1954.© Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY.

Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier is one of the most prolific and distinctive American photographers of the mid to late twentieth century...

American Girl in Italy, Florence, 1951 Ruth Orkin © Mary Engel & APAG.us

Ruth Orkin

Photojournalist Ruth Orkin was voted one of the Top Ten Women Photographers by the Professional Photographers of America in 1959...

Ingeborg Strobl

Ingeborg Strobl

Austrian visual artist and photographer who focused primarily on conceptual art as a form of narrative expression....

Fanny Foster

Fanny Foster

Fanny Foster was a British photographer hired to document the 1929-1931 archaeological excavation at the Vinča-Belo Brdo tell in modern-day Serbia...

Jo Spence 1989

Jo Spence

Over her long career, Jo Spence moved from capturing moments of domestic happiness in commercial photography to works that challenged capitalism and sexism,before focusing on questions of illness and healing as she battled with breast...

Christina Broom

Christina Broom

Britain’s pioneering female press photographer, Christina Broom, took up photography only in her 40s after her husband became unable to work....

Self-portrait with a dog © Estate of Madame d'Ora, Museum for Art and Crafts Hamburg

Madame d’Ora

The most famous of the Viennese pre-war photographers was Dora Kallmus, otherwise known as Madame d’Ora...

Mariana Yampolsky Payaso de Tlaxcala (Tlaxcala Clown), 1994

Mariana Yampolsky

Mariana Yampolsky is one of Mexico’s most influential and talented photographers. She created art is versatile and multifaceted...

Betti Mautner The estate of Betti Mautner courtesy of the Hyman Collection.

Betti Mautner

Betti Mautner was born in Vienna in 1892 when the role and significance of photography was being re-evaluated, being seen as an art form...

Ann Cooke

Ann Cooke

Ann Cooke is credited as being the first female photographer in Britain to open a professional photographic portrait studio....

Anna Atkins

Anna Atkins was the first person to create a book made entirely from photographic images and is widely acclaimed for her use of British algae cyanotypes....

Ida Kar

Ida Kar

Ida Kar was a woman of many origins who became most well-known for her portraits of London artistic circles, becoming the ‘Bohemian Photographer’....

Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange was able to run a successful portrait studio in San Francisco during the 1920s during the Great Depression....

Laure Albin-Guillot

Born Laure Meffredy in Paris, photographer Laure Albin-Guillot first opened a portrait studio at her home in Rue du Ranelagh in the 1920s....

Laura Gilpin

Laura Gilpin

Laura Gilpin spent her photography career documenting the Indigenous tribes of the United States, particularly the Navajo and Pueblo tribes....

Edith Barakovich - Photograph of La Jana

Edith Barakovich

Serbian-born photographer whose work explored, and was influenced by, Vienna, the heart of the Austrian Empire and a prominent place within the world of art and fashion....

Homai Vyarawalla | Dalda 13

Homai Vyarawalla

Not only was Homai Vyarawalla India’s first female photojournalist but her career documented the overthrow of British colonial rule...

Inge Morath

Austrian photographer Inge Morath left Nazi Germany to America to become an editor and then as assistant to Henry Cartier-Bresson....

Ruth Bernhard 'Lifesavers'

Ruth Bernhard

German photographer Ruth Bernhard studied at the Berlin Academy of Art. In 1927, she relocated to New York to begin a career in commercial photography....

Jo Spence

Cinderella

Reproduction of Jo Spence's BA thesis. Written in 1982, this landmark thesis aimed to untangle interconnected gender and class oppressions in historic fairy tales....

Esther

Esther Bubley

From admiring Life magazine to shooting the cover, Esther Bubley was a prolific freelance photographer during the golden age of American documentary photography. Becoming one of the first women to be able to financially support herself...

Karimeh Abbud

Palestinian photographer, born in Bethlehem, later moved to Jerusalem, and died in Nazareth.She was unknown to historians or photographers, until 2007....

Vera Jackson

Vera Jackson

American photographer Vera Jackson (1912-1999) was noted for her evocative narrative content within her work....

Mary Dillwyn Photograph

Mary Dillwyn

Pioneering photographer who worked during the 1840s and 1850s, is widely considered to be the earliest female photographer in Wales....

Eve Arnold

Eve Arnold

Photographer who rebelled against the homogeneous narrative with which women were typically represented in the public eye....

Gerda Taro - Crowd at Morgue in Valencia

Gerda Taro

Gerda Taro has both the distinction of being one of the first female war photographers, and the first to die in the line of work as in 1937....

polixeni Papapetrou

Polixeni Papapetrou

Polixeni Papapetrou (1960-2018) was an Australian photographer most recognized for her work on historical and contemporary culture....

Hannah Höch

Hannah Höch

From being the only woman associated with the Berlin Dada movement to evolving her craft for more than half a decade, Hannah Höch created photomontages that commented on politics, gender roles and popular culture....

Ylla - Indian Elephants

Ylla

Camilla Koffler was a pioneer of animal photography. She changed her name to Ylla after finding out that Camilla in Serbian means ‘camel’....

Norah Lyle Smyth

Norah Lyle-Smyth

Norah documented the early years of British suffrage and the ground-breaking work of socialist Sylvia Pankhurst in London’s East End....

Lives behind the lens

Women refugee photographers are put back in the frame in Four Corners' exhibition. Kirtey Verma goes behind the scenes of the recently reopened Another Eye with Four Corners’ Carla Mitchell and co-curator Katy Barron...

Tina Modotti

Tina Modotti

With her camera, Tina Modotti presents a distinctive vision of 1920s Mexico. As a Hollywood actress turned Comintern agent, Modotti used photography as an artistic and political outlet....

Lee Miller

Lee Miller Profile

From model and muse to ground-breaking modern artist, Lee Miller’s biography at times overwhelms her aesthetic achievement....

Kati Horna

Kati Horna

Compassionate and engaged, Mexican photojournalist Kati Horna introduced a personal and feminine approach to reportage photography...

Hansel Mieth

Hansel Mieth

Hansel Mieth was a German-born photojournalist, most notable for capturing the dire conditions of working-class Americans in the 1930s and 1940s...

Germaine Krull

Germaine Krull was the groundbreaking photographer who influential surrealist Man Ray named his artistic equal...

Corinne Day

Corinne Day

Transitioning from fashion model to fashion photographer, Corinne Day proves that the only rule for success is to remain true to your vision...

Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark was a highly esteemed and accredited photographer with a specific interest in capturing 1960s counterculture...

Gertrude Käsebier

For legendary photographer Gertrude Käsebier (1852–1934), photography was a means to escape an unhappy marriage and become financially independent....

Franki Raffles

Edinburgh-based Franki Raffles (1955 - 1994) was a social documentarian and feminist photographer who died tragically young....

Lillian Bassman

Lillian Bassman

Lillian Bassman’s (1917-2012) fashion photography appeared on the pages of Harper's Bazaar from the 1940's to the 1960's. Her self-taught, experimental and dreamlike approach brought an elegance to fashion photography and elevated it...

Hilla Wobeser Becher

Pioneers of industrial architecture photography, Hilla Becher (1931 - 2015) with partner Bernd, were known for their black and white typology photography....

Ellen Auerbach_Hundred_Heroines_Women_In_Photography_20th_Century_Photographer_Black_And_White_Photographer

Ellen Auerbach

One half of ringl+pit, Jewish photographer Ellen Auerbach (1906-2004) created surreal images and used photography as a means of independence....

Khadija Saye

Known as Ya-Haddy Sisi Saye, Khadija was a Gambian-British photographer, celebrated for her extraordinary photographs during her short life, which ended, at the age of 24, in the Grenfell fire of 2017....

Lotte Jacobi

Coming from a long line of photographers, German-born Lotte Jacobi (1896-1990) was known for her intimate, dramatic and often experimental portraits in the ‘New Vision’ style of the late 1920s and 30s. After fleeing Hitler’s Germany,...

Isle Bing

Ilse Bing

Ilse Bing (1899–1998) was a German-born inter-war photographer who worked in photojournalism and portraiture in Paris and New York. She worked in the modernist style and innovated using solarisation and night photography. Her work was...

Helen Levitt

One of America’s foremost street photographers, Helen Levitt captured the energy of the streets of Spanish Harlem, Brooklyn and the Bronx through her candid, quirkily framed shots of children at play....

Edith Glogau

Edith Glogau (1898 – 1970) was a student of Madame D’Ora who opened her own Atelier Glogau in Vienna in 1925 when Madame D’Ora went to Paris....

Friedl Dicker-Brandeis

Friedl Dicker-Brandeis

The Bauhaus-trained Austrian designer and artist who was killed in the Holocaust has recently become better known for her painting and art therapy than photography. But in the early 30’s she produced powerful anti-fascist photomontages...

Martine Franck

Martine Franck was a Belgian-born/British documentary and portrait photographer who was a member of Magnum Photos for over 32 years...

Harriet Tytler

A true pioneer of photographic practices in the 1800s, she created over 300 photographs in collaboration with her husband....

Gisèle Freund

From assignments for Life and Time Magazine, Gisèle Freund is most well-known for her candid portraits of literary greats and artists...

Florence Henri, Self-Portrait, 1928, gelatin silver print

Florence Henri

Florence Henri did not just live through arguably the most exciting period in the history of art – she was at its very frontier...

Eva Besnyö

Eva Besnyö

After being gifted a Kodak Brownie, Eva Besnyö went on to open her own photography studio where she continually adapted her style...

Dora Maar

Dora Maar

Dora Maar (1907 – 1997) was an acclaimed painter, poet and photographer who was an integral figure in the Surrealist art movement...

E. Lennie

E. Lennie

E. Lennie is the acronym used by Eliza Lennie (1818 – unknown) who was a successful 19th century business owner and optician in Edinburgh, Scotland...

Heroines Past

Tour our A-Z of Heroines past, as our archives grow we hope to provide a detailed photographer’s profile for each name.  Fancy writing a bio that’s missing? Or know a name that should be on the list? Email us at hello@hundredheroines.org

A

B

  • Barbara Ker-Seymer (1905 – 1993)
  • Barbara Morgan (1900-1992)
  • Barbara Pflaum  (1912 – 2002)
  • Beatrice Freyberger  (1901 – N/K)
  • Běla Kolářová (1923 – 2010)
  • Berenice Abbott (1898 – 1991)
  • Bertha Beckmann (1815 – 1901)
  • Bessie Raynor Parkes (1829 – 1925)
  • Betti Mautner (1892 – 1988)
  • Birgit Jürgenssen (1949 – 2003)
  • Blanche Henrietta Pechell née Shelley (1841 – 1898)
  • Bobbi Baker Burrows (1945 – 2018)

C

  • Camilla Koffler/Ylla (1911 – 1955)
  • Carolee Schneemann (1939 – 2019)
  • Caroline Emily Nevill, Lady  (1829 – 1887)
  • Caroline Margaret Kerrison, Lady (1819 – 1895)
  • Caroline Taylor (1810 – 1876)
  • Catherine Leroy (1944 – 2006)
  • Catherine Verschoyle (1800 – 1882)
  • Cecilia Glaisher (1828 – 1892)
  • Christina Broom (1862 – 1939)
  • Claire Aho (1925 – 2015)
  • Claude Cahun (1894 – 1954)
  • Clementina Hawarden, Lady (1822 – 1865)
  • Compton Collier (1899 – 19770
  • Constance Fox Talbot (1811 – 1880)
  • Consuelo Kanaga (1894 – 1978)
  • Corinne Day (1962 – 2010)
  • Constance Stuart Larrabee (1914 – 2000)
  • Cui Xiuwen (1970 – 2018)

D

E

F

* dates not verified

G

H

  • Hanna Maynard  (1834 – 1918)
  • Hannah Höch  (1889 – 1978)
  • Hannah Wilke  (1940-1993)
  • Hansel Mieth (1909 – 1998)
  • Harriet Ann Tucker (1808 – 1875)
  • Harriet V S Thorne (1843 – 1926)
  • Harriet Tytler  (1828 – 1907)
  • Hazel Larsen Arche  (1921 – 2001)
  • Helena Almeida (1934 – 2018)
  • Helen Chadwick  (1953 – 1996)
  • Helen Gee  (1919 – 2004)
  • Helen Levitt  (1913 – 2009)
  • Helen Messinger Murdoch (1862 – 1956)
  • Henrietta Augusta Nevill , Lady/Augusta Mostyn  (1830 – 1912)
  • Hilla Becher (1934 – 2015)
  • Homai Vyarawalla  (1913 – 2012)
  • Hou Bo (1924 – 2017)

I

J

K

L

M

N

O

P

  • Pauline Trevelyan, Lady (1816 – 1866)
  • Penny Tweedie  (1940 – 2011)
  • Pepa Feldscharek  (1899 – 1962)
  • Polixeni Papapetrou   (1960 – 2018)

Q

Why not be the first to nominate a historical or legacy Heroine whose name begins with Q?

R

  • Reva Brooks (1913 – 2001)
  • Rita (Margarita) Weir Martin (1875 – 1958)
  • Rollie McKenna (1918 – 2003)
  • Rosa Jenik  (1853 – 1913)
  • Rose Mandel (1910 – 2002)
  • Ruby Washington  (1952 – 2018)
  • Ruth Bernhard  (1905 – 2006)
  • Ruth Orkin  (1921 – 1985)

S

  • Sarah Angeline Acland (1849 – 1930)
  • Sarah Anne Bright (1793 – 1866)
  • Sarah Holcomb (early 19th C.)
  • Sarah Louise Judd  (1802 – 1886)
  • Shima Ryū  (1823 – 1900)
  • Shirley Baker  (1932 – 2014)
  • Susan Eliza Evans née Gisborne  (1834 – 1891)
  • Sibylle Bergemann (1941 – 2010)

T

U

Why not be the first to nominate a historical or legacy Heroine whose name begins with U?

V

W

  • Winifred Casson  (1908 – 1969)
  • Winifred Hall Allen (Active 1930s)

XYZ

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