Five Famous Women Photographers: Photos That Have Made a Difference

Even in today’s world, being a female photographer is tough but that’s not to say it's not possible. Here are five famous ladies who made a difference with their art…

While male photographers are still primarily more heard of than females, that doesn’t mean that women can’t still make a difference with their work.

Ever since the invention of the camera, women have been snapping some iconic shots, many of which are revered in history books. That said, here are five famous female photographers and the photos they took that made and impact on the world…

#1 Beverly Joubert – A Leopard Lurks, Botswana

While in Botswana, Joubert and her husband came across an eight-day-old leopard cub that they named Legadema. While their interaction with the animal was minimal, Legadema seemed to enjoy hanging around them and would often wait by their van while its mother was away hunting making Joubert feel like a surrogate parent.

A year later, she returned to the scene in search of the cub and, as soon as Legadema spotted her, she ran towards her, acknowledging Joubert as a friend. Despite being human, Joubert was accepted into this leopard’s world.

Joubert is now using her breathtaking picture of Legadema titled ‘A Leopard Lurks’ to engage people in the fight against animal endangerment – especially in the protection of African cats.

#2 Diane Arbus – Identical Twins, New Jersey


Diane Arbus led a privileged life growing up. After marrying a wealthy husband, she set about starting a photography business.

In time, however, she grew tired of taking photos of commercial images and chose instead to explore how the other half lived. She ventured into the world of street photography and chose subjects who were considered outcasts, people such as dwarves, transvestites, nudists, and the poor; people who lived on the fringes of society.

Her famous photo titled ‘Identical Twins’ is an expression of herself and, by extension, the rest of society. Through it, Arbus asks the profound question of, “Who am I and who are you?”

#3 Stephanie Sinclair – On Counterrorism Patrol, Yemen


Having witnessed firsthand the horror that child brides suffer when she was in Afghanistan in 2003, Stephanie Sinclair has since been determined to reveal to the world the injustices that women everywhere face. She’s chronicled everything from girls as young as five being married to men in the forces and the challenges they are yet to overcome.

In Yemen, Sinclair spent a day with the female counterrorism and discovered that, despite the fact they play a vital role as they are the only ones who car search females for bombs, they are still shunned. Her iconic photo titled ‘On Counterrorism Patrol’ highlights the stark contrast between the girly pink halls and the female officer in uniform.

#4 Margaret Bourke White – Mahatma Gandhi, India

Margaret Bourke White is now considered one of the most famous women of all time and, as the first female war correspondent and Life magazine’s first female photographer, she undoubtedly helped to pave the way for other female photographers. In her time, she would do near anything to get a shot – something that saw her encounter a lot of close scrapes which earned her the nickname ‘Maggie the Indestructible.’

One of her most revered images is of Mahatma Gandhi sitting cross-legged beside his spinning wheel. It’s an image that is as iconic as it is humbling.

#5 Mary Ellen Mark – The Damm Family, Los Angeles


Though she spent much of her career shooting stills on movie sets such as Apocalypse Now, it is her moving and often disturbing films of people living on the fringes of society that earned her a place in the photographers’ Hall of Fame.

Having realised that the world liked to ignore the fact that people such as drug addicts, prostitutes, and the homeless actually existed, Mark took to the streets to give these people a voice. While she realised she couldn’t help them all she was determined to attest their existence through photography.

Her photograph of the Damm family who lived in their car captured a look of sheer depression, utter hopelessness and defeat. The image was used by Life magazine and through it Mark urged people to reach out and remember those who have little in life.

Of course, these five women and their photos are but a few of the amazing stories out there. Over the years there have been countless other successful female photographers and their photos which have changed the world in some way. Don’t let yourself think you can’t make a difference just because you’re a woman.

These five ladies broke through the bonds of society and changed the world, so why can’t you?

Cover photo:

About the author


Writing is Nichola’s passion but she's also an avid reader and a massive film geek. Like most of us, Nichola spends way too much time surfing the web, mostly reading blogs on the weird and wonderful or rumours of who's got the lead role in next years hottest films.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment