Celebrating Women Photographers 1840-1930


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It's 1860, you're a landscape photographer, and the dazzling sunlight is playing havoc with your photo. Without photography accessories shops around, you improvise and use your fashionable parasol as an improvised lens shade. Problem solved.

It's 1895, you're an itinerant photographer traveling dangerous backroads alone. You're not worried, though: a man's hat hides that you're a woman and besides, you've always got your pistol at the ready.

Those are but two of the intrepid women photographers we'll meet in my podcast Photographs, Pistols, and Parasols. Many women pursued careers in photography just after it began in 1839, successful entrepreneurs who ran thriving photography businesses. Early adopters, they mastered the cutting-edge technology to produce stunning photos with ever-changing equipment.

Surprised? You're not alone. A popular misconception is that women became professional photographers only after 1930. Books either erroneously attribute women's works to husbands or male assistants, or overlook their achievements altogether. Consider Gertrude Käsebier, one of the most successful photographers ever. She has a falling out in 1912 with Alfred Stiegliz, whose subsequent history of photography minimizes Käsebier's extensive contributions.

It's time we celebrate the women who started photography careers between 1840-1930. As a photography educator, I've been sharing their stories with a wide-range of people, captivating interested audiences through my lectures and invited talks. These early photographers inspire me personally as both a photographer and a woman, and I'm eager to share their extraordinary stories through my podcast Photographs, Pistols, and Parasols (podcast starting in 2017), with a book, Coming to Focus: Female Photographic Entrepreneurs 1840-1930, to follow in 2018.

Contact me for more information on how to arrange for a lecture about one or more of these talented female photographers.

All images ©2007-2015  L. Lee McIntyre, unless otherwise noted. No material may be used without permission.