Happy International Women's Day everyone! As one of the hairy "F" words you're going to be hearing about all month long, it's only fair that today is the day I kick off my March series - Women In Photography. As an amateur photographer, this series really hits home. This March I will be introducing you to some talented women photographers who are shaking up this predominately male field. It's no secret that photography more than occasionally tips toes over the line of misogyny. Models posed by male photographers for the watchful male gaze is the norm in advertising and respected art scenes alike. Like many fields, in our country, photography needs new perspectives and new norms.
This month I asked some photographers to share their thoughts on how their point of view as women influences their art, which I also asked them to share. Kicking off this series is my dear friend and traveling buddy Bonnie Saporetti. A Philly-based photographer, Bonnie's work captures urban landscapes and the people who live them with a dark romantic light. Here are Bonnie's thoughts in her own words.
I am still searching for better words to describe my subjects that don’t include “old”. There are really no positive words in the english language to describe older women. Mature? Elderly? Spinster? They all seem to have negative connotations. When I make photographs of experienced (is that better?) women, I want to expose them in a way in which they aren’t normally allowed. Society tends to ignore the older generations or write them off as frail and dependent, when that is certainly not what I see. These women have decades more life experience than me, with thousands more stories full of wisdom and life lessons. I’m not sure if it is possible through photographs, but I want to make their stories heard, or at least their faces seen.
"I have always been surrounded by strong women in my life."
I am fascinated by the stories told by my grandmother and other female relatives. After my grandmother passed away, I went out in search of more people to be inspired by. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon members of Philadelphia’s Granny Peace Brigade handing out fliers on Veterans day. This is an incredible group of activists who strive for peace in the world, and are out on the streets fighting the good fight with little regard for what others might think of them. They are honestly more active than I am. Over time I got to know some of the members and they were kind enough to sit down for portraits. Soon my circle of subjects grew to include even more inspiring women.
"I’m not sure if it's possible through photographs, but I want to make their stories heard, or at least their faces seen."
One of my professors during college gave out some words of advice that I have not stopped thinking about since, which is to use your own personal situation to your advantage. Being a small, young woman in photography has its serious advantages, despite the feeling that photography is a very male-dominated industry. It was easy for me to form a bond with my subjects, many of them taking me in as a surrogate grandchild or student with ears ready to take in any words they were willing to share with me. I would love to continue this project, as I am still fascinated by every older women I pass on the street, longing to make a portrait of them and listen to their life story.