Female in Focus: An award for women photographers

Did you know that across the photography industry, just 1 in 9 award winners are women? And while equality in our own awards is improving, last year only 38% of our winners were female. If we are to make real steps towards equality in the photography industry, we must start at home.

© Ngadi Smart, from the series Longing and Belonging

It is for neither lack of interest nor talent that the photography industry is so imbalanced. While just 15% of professional photographers are women, 80% of photography graduates are female. We want to know what is happening to these promising graduates, and to re-engage the talent that gets lost along the way by giving underrepresented photographers the tools and platforms to succeed. By valuing everyone and their stories, equally, we can start to make photography more fair and more representative.  

For that reason, we are introducing a new global award, Female in Focus, which seeks to highlight the exceptional quality of photography by women. Our aim is to open up the world of photography to diverse talent, and to empower women and non-binary people to step behind the lens.

© Alice Mann / Institute Artist, from the series Drummies

This inaugural edition of Female in Focus addresses gender disparity head on, by giving female-identifying and non-binary photographers the chance to have their work exhibited in a leading New York gallery, United Photo Industries, for a month over October and November 2019. Taking place just after the close of PhotoPlus Expo – the height of photography season in New York – this group show will place the exceptional work of our winners at the very heart of the photography industry.

© Jess T. Dugan, from the series Every Breath We Drew

The award is comprised of two separate categories; the Single Image Category and the Stories Category. 20 winning single images will be exhibited at the group show at United Photo Industries, alongside two winning series from the Stories Category. The winning photographers from the latter category will be flown to New York for the opening of the exhibition, with return flights and two nights of accommodation included. All winning photographers will receive international press coverage, and will also be featured on BJP-Online.

To help understand gender disparity in our industry, and the steps we are making to change it, we are also publishing a research guide, which will be accessible soon through our Education platform. The guide brings together industry-wide expertise, from the likes of photographers Kourtney Roy, Alice Mann, and Jess T Dugan, alongside key figures such as Adenrele Sonariwo, founder of Rele Art Gallery in Lagos, Nigeria, and Fiona Shields, Head of Photography at The Guardian.

© Yagazie Emezi for The Weather Channel

“Telling stories from a multiplicity of viewpoints can only expand our knowledge of our world and enrich our lives,” says Sarah Leen, Director of Photography at National Geographic

Female in Focus will elevate the work of diverse talent, and give a platform to new perspectives. As such, it will be one vital step closer to gender equality in photography.

Apply to Female in Focus and join us in celebrating exceptional work by women photographers! Entries close 9 May 2019 23:59 (UK Time)

© Kourtney Roy, from the series I Drink
© Pixy Liao, from the series For Your Eyes Only
© Ngadi Smart, from the series Amorphophallus Aphyllus
© Jess T. Dugan, from the series Every Breath We Drew
© Yagazie Emezi, from the series Re-learning Bodies
© Daiana Valencia and Celeste Alonso, Rueda Photos collective, from the series Morenada Porteña