Free The Women Photographers in Between 1839 -1950 Essay Sample

Photography refers to the mere act of taking and producing photographs. It could be done an occupational activity or as a hobby. It is a profession that has widely grown and advanced largely over the years. Photographs are used in different ways such as advertising, preserving culture, technology, an ideology and movement in a particular era. Photography forms an extremely crucial part of recording memories; either good or bad.

Over the years, photography has largely developed to be even better and captivating. During the 18th century and part of19th century, photographs were printed on paper that was not waterproof and would usually be black and white. Currently, they are long lasting and are colored making them more attractive. As a result, the overall interest in photography has been rapidly increasing over the years. This has resulted in huge competition among the photographers who have joined this industry.   

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The main strategy that has been applied by many photographers is advertising. This is mainly through the media; in journals, magazines and televisions. Though photography is a medium of arts where most women have been least ignored there is much to say about women in their contribution to photography. Naomi Rosenblum, the author of A History of Women Photographers give explanations that women were active and significant people in the history of photography even in the first experiment of using chemicals. For instance, Huang Lu, a Chinese woman scientist who is recognized by having established a crude sort of camera during the early 1800’s.

Women are one of the people who have made significant contributions to the field of photography, as an art form as well as a profession when photography began. Women have been seen as part of creators of each aspect of the medium, such as scientific and social documentation, portraiture, personal expression, advertising and photojournalism. However, their achievements were always ignored. Women had special connection with the camera since the beginning of photographic technology during the mid 19th century. Women were celebrated by many photographers as subjects from fashion spreads and close family portraits to nude studies and artistic photography including Man Ray’s Violond’Ingres. The history of the women photographers was lesser studied and known, and they continued to come up with precious contributions to photography.

As photography became accessible and popular, many women practiced photography for business and pleasure. Photography being a medium that was not well known and established as painting, it was a field where women were accepted easily. There lacked real traditions that could deny women to engage in this new medium and this made many women practice photography. Photography also did not require many years of formal learning and with the introduction of portraiture, it was clear that photography was an excellent source of income especially to the middle class women.

This paper explores women photographers from 1839 to 1950. This exhibition is an attempt to demystify how photographs can be used to advertise. The main theme of this exhibition is advertisement as displayed by photographs taken by women. These women photographers were most determined in their devotion to the appearance of clothes and objects. Their advertising images either manufactured such as clothes or organic are appealing to the viewers encouraging them to buy the items. Photo documentary has been implemented for many years. It has been utilized since the 18th century. Stories were often told via photography since flow of information was hugely enhanced. People have with time learnt to pass on information via photography as is easier and captivating. This therefore means that businessmen may use photography as a form of advertisement.

Anna Atkins

Anna learned photography directly from Talbot. His two inventions were closely related to photography whereby he used the technique of photogenic drawing and calotypes. Photogenic drawing is a technique whereby an object is positioned on a paper that is light sensitive by exposing it to the sun in order to produce an image. Anna is said to have started using camera by 1841. Some other sources say that she was the earliest woman photographer. Other sources claim that Constance Talbot, the wife of William Talbot, to be the earliest female photographer. Since there are no existence of camera based photographs by these two women photographers, this issue cannot be resolved. 

Julia Margaret Cameron, Photographer

Julia was born on June 11, 1815 and died on January 26, 1879. She was a British photographer who was popular for her celebrities’ portraits of that era. Her photographs were also known for her Arthurian and various legendary themes.

Her life as a photographer was short that took eleven years of her life. She started photography when she was forty eight years when she was given a camera as a gift. Her work had an impact on the modern photographers, mainly her intimately collected portraits, although her work was not extensively appreciated during her time.

Beatrice Cenci

Cameron was mesmerized by Beatrice Cenci’s story, a Roman noblewoman of the 16th century who was executed because of planning the assassination of her father. Her trial that was in the year 1599 was retold in the play of Percy Byshe Shelley, The Cenci, 1819. This touching story appealed the tastes of Victorians and sad figure of Beatrice was used among the contemporary painters. Cameron came up with many pictures that represented this subject.

Additionally, the passion of Cameron for literature is also displayed in most of her photographs. They illustrated particular characters and passages from the well known poems, novels and plays. Although can be difficult to understand especially by today’s’ audiences, most were easily recognized by viewers of Victoria.

The thread photograph tries to advertise the some of the threads that were used during those early times. These were the threads that were used to make the clothes that were used to design fashions. The photograph by Jean Pagliuso with a women seated on the couch also tries to advertise fashion. This photography advertises women wear, the shoes, which is displayed by the woman’s leg. It also advertises women hair styles during those past times. With the people who were busy and lazy, there was hardly any time to read the contents of an advertisement. As such, photography became the easiest solution to the impending problem. As a result, a huge number of people get the intended message and if results oriented, the desired results are easily achieved. With the results that are targeted being achieved, it means that the overall cost of photography would also reduce.

Berenice Abbott

The project of Abbott was mainly a sociology study imbedded in modernist artistic practices. She wanted to come up with a broadly comprehensive collection of photographs, which together put forward significant interaction linking three aspects of life in urban. These aspects include the diverse urban people, the places they reside, play and work, as well as their daily activities. This was aimed at empowering the people through making them understand that the environment they live in is as a result of the collective behavior.  Additionally, Abbott avoided the contrast between the new and the old through choosing her camera lenses and angles so as to create compositions that destabilized a subject if she scorned it or stabilized if she approved it.  Abbott one of the people in the straight photography movement that stressed out the significance of photographs being uninfluenced in both developing processes and the subject matter.

The source of this information is meant to describe Berenice Abbott's life


Dahl-Wolfe is a woman photographer who took photographs outdoors using natural light in the distance locations from South America to Africa. This came was later known as environmental fashion photography.  She favored portraiture more than fashion photography. Some of her notable portraits are Cecil Beaton, Mae West, Eudora Welty, Christopher Isherwood, W. H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Orson Welles, Edward Hopper, Josephine Baker and Colette. Between the years 1933 and 1958, Dahl-Wolfe worked as a fashion photographer at Harper’s Bazaar. Later from 1958 to the year she retired, 1960, she worked as a freelance photographer for sports, vogue, and various periodicals.

 Elizabeth "Bessie" Buehrmann

She was an American artist and a photographer. She was one of the pioneers who took formal portraits from peoples’ home rather than in studio. Elizabeth had specialized in taking portraits of her clients from their homes. She had never employed artificial props or scenery. She took photographs in houses and not in studio. She believes that one is much more appropriate when she or he is natural and later different background effects can be used to enhance the appearance of the photograph. She did not pose her clients, but spent many hours getting familiar with her clients before trying to emulate the character found in the appealing face.  She was known for her artistry and talent to capture the soul together with the physical features of her clients.

 Ellen Auerbach

The life of Ellen Auerbach was full of journey for self discovery. Her photographic work was mainly aimed at looking for essence that lied behind things and people. Her intuitive and keen eye, sense of humor and curious mind made her get interested in photography that was re-discovered late 1970, along avant-garde artists and photographers of Weimar republic. Ellen was one of the New York women who decided to disobey the traditional female role and be an independent woman through doing their work.

As she rides on the top of the avant-garde photographic designs during the 1920s, Ellen developed her distinctive style that greatly corresponded with her desire to find the essence that is behind people and things. With her wonderful intuition that is her eye, she was able to capture atmospheric moods, which helped study areas she photographed. 


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