Women do not comfortably fit the traditional view of the hyper-masculine hardcore outdoor adventurer that we usually associate with the great landscape photographer. But the women listed below, subvert this stereotype and prove there is more than one way to see the world.
The extent to which the landscape has been framed through the male gaze is difficult to come to terms with, until you see it through someone else’s perspective.
We have culminated a list of women landscape photographers who have trained their eye on the world around them and used their practice to reflect upon their place within it. Their photography illuminates a different, much-needed, perspective on the natural and human-made world that won’t be ignored – expanding our understanding of landscape photography.
For the past decade, Marilyn Bridges has combined photography with her passion for flying in order to preserve what she refers to as “the messages of humankind.” Bridges is renowned for her black-and-white aerial photographs that document historical sights: from ancient ruins, to rural America. She is the first artist to have made such an expansive and elegant aerial study of civilization and landscapes across the world
Dolorès Marat is known for her unique photographic style, which through colour and compositions manages to capture the aura and feelings of environments. Having been acquainted with Fresson’s printing process in her previous career, Dolores Marat knew she would use this form of expression, a technique invented in the 19th century for pictorialist photographers and adapted to colour printing in the mid-20th century. From her first signed print in 1983, she has been faithful to a process rendering a velvety softness that loses the spectator somewhere between photography and painting.
New York-based artist Zoe Leonard balances rigorous conceptualism with a distinctly personal vision in her work, which merges photography, sculpture, and installation. By employing strategies of repetition, shifting perspectives, and a multitude of printing processes, Leonard’s practice probes the politics of representation and display. More than its focus on any particular subject, however, Leonard’s work encourages the viewer to reconsider the act of looking itself, drawing attention to observation as a complex, ongoing process.
Australian-born, Iceland-based Serena Dzenis tells stories about science, conservation, environmental issues and the future of humankind through her lens-based art. Her series entitled 2021 ± II: utopia broadcasting (exhibited at the Head On Photo Festival 2022) encapsulates everything about human construction: consumerism, the wonders and dangers of science, and sheer curiosity. The project aims to utilise existing structures within the Icelandic landscape to transport the viewer’s imagination to another world that exists beyond time through our present.
Pipilotti Rist does more than capture landscapes – she creates them. Over the past 30 years, Rist has achieved international acclaim as one of the pioneers of experimental video art and multimedia installations. Incorporating video and sculpture, her dazzling environments plunge viewers into colourful kaleidoscopic projections which explore the relationship between nature, the body and technology.
Known more for the feminist undertones of her work, Ana Mendieta photographs have always been predisposed to capturing nature. Her Siluetas series, shows human-shaped indents within micro and macro landscapes, alluding to the world swallowing her up and the cyclical nature of life and death. Her landscape photographs engaged the senses, focussing on heitening the presense of the earthly elements; the fire was hot, the ice cold, the water wet.
German-born Australian photographer Katrin Koenning is emerging as an influential voice in landscape photography art. Her work often explores our connections to place and belonging. The peripatetic artist takes her camera everywhere, creating an elusive, emotional, poetic and prolific body of photography which she uses to create connective series. She uses fragmented images of landscapes placed in a thematic or sequential order to express meanings that are more familial than literal.
Lynn Davis is an American photographer who is best known for her expressive large-format images of landscapes, particularly those of the Arctic and the Himalayas – places we are only used to seeing in a documentary sense. Davis’ images contemplate the sublime, but instead of looking to warm horizons, she turns her attention to the cold depths. Her minimalist vision meditates on the aesthetic and symbolic power of the natural and man–made world around us.
Trained as a botanist, Anna Atkins developed an interest in photography as a means of recording botanical specimens for a scientific reference book, British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. This publication was one of the first uses of light-sensitive materials to illustrate a book. Instead of traditional letterpress printing, the book’s handwritten text and illustrations were created by the cyanotype method. Atkins printed and published Part I of British Algae in 1843 and in doing so established photography as an accurate medium for scientific illustration.
Polixeni Papapetrou was a celebrated Australian photo-media artist whose work explores the relationship between environment, history, contemporary culture and identity. While her work depicted luscious natural landscapes, she managed to create an air of the artificial in each frame. Turning these wide landscapes into theatrical settings for her models, and at times absurd characters, to play in. At once creating a sense of in-place and out-of-place.