Photography as an industry couldn’t exist without the many thousands of women that create, exhibit and publish in their field – yet, it makes figureheads of mostly men. Both photography and culture have slowly changed, but arguably, this change has not been quite quick enough. To broaden the spotlight, this globetrotting book provides a compendium of over 30 contemporary names to remember; all of whom are women.
This book’s premise is simply to champion new work, but it has a double effect of celebration, through its focus on the female lens’s approach to documenting today’s principal social, political and personal issues. The journeys captured and accompanying stories written within the book, illustrate the contributing artists as magnificently bold, daring and intelligent explorers of their surroundings.
Whilst the book uses the creative feminine as a singular source, the variation of inspirational works results in a sense of satisfying completion, a sign of the huge amount of energy that has gone into it’s publication. Exploring the book gives an even better buzz of creativity that leaving a memorable exhibition does; a compelling reason to recommend the book and its artists to others for the broad appeal of its base sense of humanity. It is one to be re-visited again and again for timeless inspiration. It’s also a must have in any classroom or university library, Max Houghton’s presence as head of the MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography course at LCC is a positive force that can be felt strongly here.
Houghton perhaps paraphrases the notion of the books double effect referenced above in response to claims of exclusivity or sexism – she suggests that ‘Drawing attention to a creative practice on the grounds of gender alone is, in a way, reductive’ but that she would ‘like Firecracker to be a means of the celebration of photography, game-changers, women and, above all, a celebration of great work now’. Books showcasing creative practice on the grounds of gender like this one are essential now and long into the future, or at least until Morris-Cafiero and Quigley are referenced as often as Bresson and Doisneau – that is, until our medium realises its past and present error of failing to champion women as much as men.