London-based documentary photographer Laura Pannack has won the Women Seen By Women award with her series Purity. This special award marked the 10th edition of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Women Photographers, and attracted 720 entries from 42 countries.
Pannack started her series over seven years ago when she moved to the Stamford Hill district of north-east London – an area known for its large Orthodox Jewish community. “I was fascinated by the Orthodox community because it was entirely different from the Jewish upbringing I experienced,” she explains. “I was also especially keen to focus my interest on getting to know the women whose lives were so different from mine.”
The community is usually wary of outsiders, and it took a lot of time and patience for Pannack to win its trust. “Gaining access isn’t just exhausting and time-consuming, but also comes with the great responsibility that I have to my subjects,” she notes. “I greatly respect these families and it is imperative to me that these images are only seen in a respectful way and in an artistic context.”
The Women Seen By Women award was juried by Analy Werbin, the senior curator of the Biennial of Fine Art & Documentary Photography. The runners up were: Benedetta Ristori (Italy) with her series Lay Off; Carol Müller (France), with Reading Women; Deepi Ahluwalia (USA) Doyenne: Female Force in Food; Fran Forman (USA) In The Shadow; Jennifer Breuel (Germany) Up to Here and No Further (Opuwo, Namibia); Leona Strassberg Steiner (USA) Aziza and Ahuva: A Love Story Was Born; Leslie Sheryll (USA) Antidote; Marja Schwarts (Germany), The Himba Women of Namibia; Rosanne Olson (USA), for Mentors and Mentees and Women’s Work.