08 Dec

Do you know who is the first woman photographer? Connaissez-vous la première femme photographe ?

Mariem / Blog / / 0 Comments

Think about it…does a name come up?

I had no clue and I was really curious to learn about the first women photographers (my women empowerment hat ?), so what started as a simple curiosity became almost a thesis topic (my analytical bias?)! Why? Because the information available was limited, scattered and vague.

During my intermittent research online, whenever I had some time, I learned a few facts that were interesting if not fascinating, all attesting of the efforts that women had to make to break in so many disciplines, including photography. It is also a testimony of the bravery and audacity of many women, including the photo journalists and those that cover war and fight for noble causes through their photos.

Many of the first women photographers were the wives or worked closely with male pioneer photographers. They emerged mostly in Europe, the birthplace of photography. Women first entered the business of photography opening studios in Denmark, France, Germany, and Sweden from the 1840s, while it was in Britain that women from well-to-do families developed photography as an art in the late 1850s. Not until the 1890s did the first studios run by women open in New York City. Some women became photojournalists to document World War I and the Great Depression.

Here are 10 women photographers out of the many that are mentioned online. I chose them because they were among the first, brave and audacious, especially for their time :

1- There seems to be competition for the label of first female photographer but Anna Atkins (1799-1871) may have been the world’s first female photographer. She was a British artist who had learned the techniques from Henry Fox Talbot, one of the key players in the development of photography in the 1830s and 1840s. She is often considered the first person to publish a book illustrated with photographic images. Constance Fox Talbot, the wife of Henry Fox Talbot, had herself experimented with the process as early as 1839;

2- Geneviève Élisabeth Francart Disdéri (1817–1878) was an early French photographer. In 1843, she married the pioneering photographer André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri, partnering with him in their Brest daguerrotype studio from the late 1840s. After her husband left for Paris in 1852, Geneviève continued to run the atelier alone. She is remembered for her 28 views of Brest, mainly architectural, which were published as Brest et ses Environs in 1856;

3- Bertha Wehnert-Beckmann was likely Germany’s first professional female photographer. In 1843, she opened a studio in Leipzig together with her husband and ran the business herself after his death in 1847;

4- Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 – 1879) was a British photographer born in Calcutta, British India. She became known for her portraits of celebrities of the time, and for photographs with Arthurian and other legendary or heroic themes. Cameron’s photographic career started at the relatively late age of 48, after raising six kids. It was a short career, spanning eleven years of her life (1864–1875). She took up photography after her daughter gave her a camera as a present;

5- Frances, “Fannie”, Benjamin Johnston (1864 – 1952) was one of the earliest American female photographers and photojournalists. Coming from a wealthy, well-connected family offered her unprecedented access to the leading figures of the day, resulting in portraits of the President and his family and celebrities of the time, including Susan B. Anthony, Mark Twain and Booker T. Washington. Johnston was a constant advocate for the role of women in the new art of photography, writing “What a Woman Can Do With a Camera” for the Ladies’ Home Journal in 1897 and co-curating an exhibition of women photographers at the 1900 Exposition Universelle;

6- Canadian-born Jessie Tarbox (1870–1942) is also credited with being among America’s earliest female photojournalist, photographing the Massachusetts state prison for the Boston Post in 1899. She was then hired by The Buffalo Inquirer and The Courier in 1902;

7- Harriet Chalmers Adams (1875–1937) is an American explorer, writer and photographer. She traveled extensively in South America, Asia and the South Pacific in the early 20th century, and published accounts of her journeys in National Geographic. She served as a correspondent for Harper’s Magazine in Europe during World War I, the only female journalist permitted to visit the trenches;

8- Margaret Bourke-White (1904 – 1971) was a photographer of ‘firsts’: she is best known as the first foreign photographer permitted to take pictures of Soviet industry, the first American female war photojournalist, and the first female photographer for Henry Luce’s Life magazine, where her photograph appeared on the first cover;

9- Mexican Lola Alvarez Bravo (1903-1993) reportedly refused to be just an assistant and was one of the first women to lead Mexican photography as an art. She became famous for her portraits of Mexican luminaries like her friend Frida Kahlo and for her photojournalism — but was, in the words of the New York Times, “overshadowed by her more famous husband”, the photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo, who would initially teach her the art, but allegedly only wanted her to be his assistant. After they divorced, Alvarez Bravo would come into her own as a photographer, doing naturalistic portraits and venturing onto the street to depict “real” Mexico, in violation of convention about where women were meant to be seen;

10- Hansel Mieth (1909 – 1998) was born in Germany and migrated to the United States in 1930 to join her lover and fellow photographer Otto Hagel. The couple found themselves amid the Great Depression and worked as migrant farm laborers for several years. During that time, they began to photograph the working conditions and suffering they saw around them after acquiring a second-hand Leica camera.


Vous connaissez la première femme photographe ?

Pensez-y… un nom vous vient-il en tête ?

Je n’en avais aucune idée et j’étais vraiment curieuse d’en savoir plus sur les premières femmes photographes (ma casquette de femme ?), alors ce qui a commencé comme une simple curiosité est devenu presque un sujet de thèse (mon biais analytique?)! Pourquoi ? Parce que les informations disponibles sont limitées, dispersées et vagues.

Durant mes recherches intermittentes en ligne, dès que j’avais un moment, j’ai appris quelques faits intéressants, voire fascinants, qui témoignaient des efforts que les femmes ont dû déployer pour percer dans de nombreuses disciplines, y compris la photographie. C’est également un témoignage de la bravoure et de l’audace de nombreuses femmes, y compris les photo journalistes et les reporters de guerre ou encore celles qui se battent pour des causes nobles à travers leurs photo reportages.

Beaucoup de ces premières femmes photographes étaient des épouses ou travaillaient en étroite collaboration avec des hommes photographes pionniers. Elles sont principalement apparues en Europe, berceau de la photographie. Les femmes ont commencé à travailler dans les studios de photographie au Danemark, en France, en Allemagne et en Suède à partir des années 1840. Mais c’est en Grande-Bretagne que les femmes de familles aisées ont développé la photographie en tant qu’art à la fin des années 1850. Ce n’est que dans les années 1890 que les premiers studios dirigés par des femmes ouvrent à New York. Certaines femmes sont devenues photojournalistes pour documenter la Première Guerre mondiale et la Grande Dépression.

Voici 10 femmes photographes parmi les nombreuses mentionnées en ligne ou dans les publications. Je les ai choisies parce qu’elles étaient parmi les premières, courageuses et audacieuses, surtout pour leur époque:

1- Il semble y avoir une concurrence pour le label de la première photographe, mais Anna Atkins (1799-1871) est peut-être la première photographe au monde. C’est une artiste britannique qui a appris les techniques de Henry Fox Talbot, l’un des principaux acteurs du développement de la photographie dans les années 1830 et 1840. Elle est souvent considérée comme la première personne à publier un livre illustré d’images photographiques. Constance Fox Talbot, épouse de Henry Fox Talbot, avait elle aussi expérimenté le processus dès 1839;

2- Geneviève Élisabeth Francart Disdéri (1817-1878) était une photographe française. En 1843, elle épouse le photographe pionnier André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri et s’associe à lui dans leur studio de daguerrotype Brest datant de la fin des années 1840. Après le départ de son mari pour Paris en 1852, Geneviève a continué à diriger seul l’atelier. Elle est reconnue pour ses 28 vues de Brest, principalement architecturales, publiées dans Brest et ses environs en 1856;

3- Bertha Wehnert-Beckmann était probablement la première photographe professionnelle allemande. En 1843, elle ouvre un studio à Leipzig avec son mari et dirige elle-même l’entreprise après sa mort en 1847;

4- Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 – 1879) était une photographe britannique née à Calcutta. Elle s’est fait connaître pour ses portraits de célébrités de l’époque. La carrière photographique de Cameron a commencé assez tard à l’âge de 48 ans, après avoir élevé six enfants. Elle a eu une carrière assez courte, couvrant onze ans de sa vie (1864-1875). Elle a commencé à photographier après que sa fille lui ait offert un appareil photo.

5- Frances, “Fannie”, Benjamin Johnston (1864 – 1952) est l’une des toutes premières photographes et photojournalistes américaines. Venant d’une famille riche et bien connectée, elle a eu un accès sans précédent aux personnalités de l’époque, créant ainsi des portraits du président et de sa famille, et de célébrités de l’époque, notamment Susan B. Anthony, Mark Twain et Booker T. Washington. Johnston a toujours défendu le rôle des femmes dans le nouvel art de la photographie. En 1897, elle écrivit “Ce qu’une femme peut faire avec une caméra” pour le Ladies ‘Home Journal et co-organisa une exposition de femmes photographes à l’exposition universelle de 1900.

6- Jessie Tarbox (1870-1942), née au Canada, est l’une des premières photojournalistes américaines à avoir photographié la prison d’État du Massachusetts pour le Boston Post en 1899. Elle a ensuite été embauchée par The Buffalo Inquirer et The Courier en 1902 ;7- Harriet Chalmers Adams (1875-1937) est une exploratrice, écrivaine et photographe américaine. Elle a beaucoup voyagé en Amérique du Sud, en Asie et dans le Pacifique Sud au début du XXe siècle et a publié des comptes rendus de ses voyages dans National Geographic. Elle a été correspondante du Harper’s Magazine en Europe pendant la Première Guerre mondiale, seule femme journaliste autorisée à visiter les tranchées.

8- Margaret Bourke-White (1904 – 1971) était une photographe de «premières»: elle est surtout connue pour être la première photographe étrangère autorisée à prendre des photos de l’industrie soviétique, la première photojournaliste américaine de guerre et la première femme pour Henry Luce’s Life magazine, où sa photo est apparue sur la première couverture.

9- La mexicaine Lola Alvarez Bravo (1903-1993) aurait refusé d’être seulement une assistante et aurait été l’une des premières femmes à diriger la photographie mexicaine en tant qu’art. Elle est devenue célèbre pour ses portraits de personnalités mexicaines telles que son amie Frida Kahlo et pour son photojournalisme. Sa carrière aurait été éclipsée par celle de son mari photographe Manuel Alvarez Bravo qui lui a appris la technique mais aurait voulu qu’elle soit seulement son assistante. Après leur divorce, Alvarez Bravo se présenta comme photographe, réalisant des portraits naturalistes et s’aventurant dans la rue pour représenter le “vrai” Mexique, en violation des conventions quant aux lieux où les femmes étaient censées être vues.

10- Hansel Mieth (1909 – 1998) est née en Allemagne et a émigré aux États-Unis en 1930 pour rejoindre son amoureux et photographe Otto Hagel. Le couple s’est trouvé dans la Grande Dépression et a commencé à photographier les conditions de travail et les souffrances qu’ils ont constatées après avoir acheté un appareil photo Leica d’occasion.


09 Sep

My passion for photography (French/English)

Mariem / Blog / / 2 Comments

Les 2 raisons pour lesquelles j’aime la photo, de plus en plus:

D’abord, la photo me permet de voir le beau dans l’ordinaire, dans le quotidien… ce sont en fait mes yeux et mon cerveau qui prennent des photos. L’appareil photo ou le téléphone ne sont alors que des instruments qui permettent de figer ces images que je vois dans ma tête. Le plus beau dans tout ça, c’est que le plus je prends des photos, et le plus j’entraîne mon cerveau et mes yeux à “voir” du beau autour de moi. C’est un cercle vertueux qui m’aide à être plus positive, plus sensible à mon environnement, des objets autour de moi, des sourires, des expressions, des situations qui durent souvent des lapses de temps…et qu’on peut passer à côté facilement.

Ensuite, j’aime la photo car elle rend l’éphémère éternel!!! Dans un monde qui va vite, très vite, pouvoir se poser et rendre quelques secondes de la vie éternelles est une forme de puissance à contre-courant. Ça donne aussi l’illusion de ralentir le temps, d’être en “slow motion”, d’être en contrôle, ou encore de faire un retour sur images…si vous avez déjà observé un lever ou coucher du soleil, vous comprenez de quoi je parle: ces moments de la journée durent un certain nombre de minutes mais  la lumière est différente d’une seconde à  l’autre.  Le temps alors devient tellement plus long. J’ai beau prendre des milliers de photos, je me rappelle du moment où j’ai pris chacune d’elle, des milliers de secondes d’une  vie. Mais ceci reste une illusion car dans la vie tout est éphémère, seul le présent existe. C’est en tout cas la manière avec laquelle j’aspire à vivre ma vie.

Hammamet, July 26, 2018, 7:06am


Pour ces raisons, je sais que la photo fera toujours partie de ma vie, et j’espère que je pourrai toujours partager ma passion avec vous.


Dhaka, Bangladesh, March 23rd, 2012



The 2 reasons why I increasingly like photography:

1- Photography allows me to see beauty in the ordinary, in the daily life … My eyes and my brain take the pictures first. The camera or the phone are just instruments that freeze those images that I see in my head. The best part of all this is that the more I take pictures, the more I train my brain and my eyes to “see” beauty around me. It is a virtuous circle, which helps me to be more positive, more sensitive to my surroundings, objects around me, smiles, expressions, situations that often last for a tiny bit of time. It can be easily missed.

2- I also love photography because it makes the ephemeral eternal!!! In a world that moves so fast, being able to pause and make a few seconds of life eternal so powerful. It also gives the illusion of slowing down time, being in “slow motion”, being in control… if you have already observed a sunrise or sunset, you understand what I’m talking about: these moments of the day last a few minutes, but the light is different every second. The time then becomes so much longer. I take thousands of pictures, I remember when I took each of them, thousands of seconds of a life. But this, of course, remains an illusion, because in life everything is ephemeral, only the present exists. Well, this is how I aspire to live my life.

For these reasons, I know that photography will always be part of my life, and I hope that I can always share my passion with you.


22 Jul

My week in Russia

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I traveled to Russia during the 2018 football World Cup to watch the Tunisia-Belgium game. To be honest, I was very apprehensive about everything, starting with flying Aeroflot (a direct flight from Washington) despite the fact that it belongs to the Flying Blue consortium….. I imagined grey and rundown buildings, limited choice of western style restaurants and shops, heavy police surveillance due to the World Cup… It was everything but that! Also, people were warm, polite, and friendly, and there was so much to visit and to do! I loved both Moscow and St Petersburg. I was simply fascinated. Below are 6 facts that amazed or surprised me, but first let me switch to French for an overview.

J’ai passé une semaine en Russie a l’occasion de la Coupe du Monde 2018 et regarder le match Tunisie-Belgique. J’avoue avoir beaucoup appréhendé ce voyage, du vol en Aeroflot (c’était un direct de Washington !) bien que la compagnie fasse partie de Flying Blue, tellement j’étais imprégnée par la manière avec laquelle la Russie etait décrite en Occident (un seul son de cloche) . J’avais occulté le potentiel touristique et culturel du pays. Donc à ma grande joie, j’ai trouvé Moscou et St Petersbourg très charmantes, les russes plus chaleureux et décontractés que je ne le croyais, et une organisation de la coupe du monde impeccable.  Ci-dessous les 6 choses qui m’ont le plus marquées :

1- Russia has a little bit of France, Italy and the US. Moscow and St Petersburg are large and lovely cities, well designed, with many beautiful old buildings. The cities are colorful, from pastel colored buildings (light blue and green, warm yellow, pink, and red) to Disneyland style Russian Renaissance architecture . Orthodox churches and cathedrals are so beautiful. Moscow has a few pedestrian streets, with restaurants, bars, shops, and street music bands. St Petersburg has a canal, and a boat ride takes you through the city streets and majestic buildings. I have to stay that it was summer time, it was sunny and hot during the week we were there, and the days were very long!

2- The vestiges of the Russian empire are very visible and embedded in the modern society. Some palaces have been preserved during the Revolution, and many have been restored and are now well maintained, some became museums that are visited by locals. We heard that Russians love to visit thei

r palaces, get on a canal ride in St Petersburg (many boats have only Russian audio guide). In St Petersburg, it is a must to visit the State Hermitage, one of the world largest art museums. It was founded by Catherine the Great who was the women with the longest reign in Russia (30+ years). It is the Russian Louvre, and you would need several days to visit it. Peterhof palace, forty minutes away from St Petersburg by boat (or  hour drive), is another must. Located on the Baltic Sea, it used to be the Summer  palace of the Tsars. It is the French Versailles with a beautiful and geometric garden and several fountains.

3- The cities were super clean all the time. It was impressive. And it can’t be that Russians are well behaved and don’t throw trash on the streets. We were thousands of tourists, or rather football fans, occupying the streets from dawn to dusk (which is almost the whole day in Russia this time of the year!). No, it was being constantly cleaned!

4- We felt very safe with limited visible security. The only security we could see were the security check points in areas where public gatherings were expected (e.g., FIFA fan zone and Red Square in Moscow) or when we left the stadium after a game; no ID control, no random control, only a few police officers here and there…There were no pick-pocketing, no annoying pushing, no harassment…it was pleasant and friendly.

5- We ate very well, especially given that we were traveling with kids. Both cities had a good choice of international restaurants…with diverse menu, fresh salads, and a good selection of wine. The restaurants were also charming. I highly recommend the steakhouse Steak Shop & Show and Pizza Napolitana in St Petersburg. Even the Moscow train station has an art deco coffee place with delicious croissants, and an ice cream store with beautiful chandeliers. Waiters were usually professionals and helpful.

6- Last but not least, the Tunisian soccer fever was amazing and unforgettable! The day we landed was the day before Tunisia played its game against Belgium. Moscow streets were occupied by festive Tunisians. There were reportedly between 15,000-20,000 Tunisians in Moscow at that point. Tunisians were singing and shouting and flying the Tunisian flag high, very high…we reunited with friends and family. The day of the game was also memorable even though Tunisia lost badly to Belgium (Tunisia did score 2 goals!).

So as Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness”. Travels teaches us tolerance and understanding, it also helps put things into perspectives.