Across vast wildernesses from Africa to Mongolia, and in human settlements from the Arctic to the Jersey Shore, 11 accomplished female photographers explore modern realities and what it means to be human in the 21st Century.
Lynsey Addario is a photojournalist who has contributed to the Times, National Geographic, and Time. She has covered the recent upheavals in Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Darfur, Haiti, and the Congo. In March, she was one of four Times journalists detained for six days by the Libyan Army. Her honors include a MacArthur Fellowship and the Overseas Press Club's Olivier Rebbot Award.
Kitra Cahana is a documentary and fine art photographer whose work explores important social, anthropological, and spiritual themes. Born in Miami, but raised in Canada and Sweden, Kitra earned her B.A. in philosophy from McGill University and her M.A. in visual and media anthropology from the Freie Universitat in Berlin. She is one of National Geographic Magazine's youngest photographers.
As a documentary photographer, Kitra embeds herself in communities, often for months at a time, in order to learn the language of her subjects. She has chronicled the daily lives of teens at a Texas high school, told the story of a Venezuelan cult, followed a group of nomadic youth across the United States. As a fine art photographer, Kitra focuses on the less explicable, often pushing the possibilities of the photographic medium. Her work in this genre deals with themes of the body and spirituality, a topic she took on following her father, Rabbi Ronnie Cahana's stroke, which led him to become a quadriplegic. She is also influenced by her grandmother Alice Lok Cahana's mixed media abstract paintings, and periodically collaborates with her sister Tamira Cahana.
Kitra is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the 2013 International Center of Photography's Young Photographer Award, a TED fellowship, first prize for the 2010 World Press Photo, a scholarship at the Benetton research communication center in Italy, the Thomas Morgan internship at the New York Times, and more.
Jodi Cobb specializes in large-scale, global stories exploring such topics as 21st-century slavery as well as more intimate stories set inside closed and secret worlds. A former staff photographer for National Geographic, she has worked in more than 50 countries, primarily in the Middle East and Asia.
Cobb was one of the first photographers to cross China when it reopened to the West, traveling 7,000 miles (11,000 kilometers) in two months for the book Journey Into China. She was the first photographer to enter the hidden lives of women of Saudi Arabia, welcomed into the palaces of princesses and the tents of Bedouins for a landmark article in 1987. And she was the first woman to be named White House Photographer of the Year.
For her book Geisha: The Life, the Voices, the Art, Cobb entered another world closed to outsiders, the geisha of Japan. She was also given special access to photograph inside a different sort of closed world, the ill-fated Gore presidential campaign of 2000.
Cobb has produced numerous articles for National Geographic, including "This Thing Called Love," "21st-Century Slaves," "The Enigma of Beauty," and "Bahia: Where Brazil Was Born," and she has contributed to several National Geographic books.
Cobb has also photographed for the Day in the Life series of books and was a prime contributor to Vietnam Veterans Memorial: The Wall, Here Be Dragons, and The Way Home: Ending Homelessness in America. Her work was also featured in the book Women Photographers at National Geographic and its accompanying exhibitions.
Her photographs have drawn acclaim at exhibitions around the world. She regularly teaches at workshops and has lectured all over the world at such venues as the International Center of Photography, the Asia Society, the Japan Society, New York's 92nd Street Y, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. She was featured in the PBS documentary On Assignment and has frequently appeared on NBC's Today Show. She has also won several awards, including numerous National Press Photographers Association Pictures of the Year awards and World Press awards.
Cobb received her B.A. in journalism and a master of art from the University of Missouri. She also received an honorary doctorate of fine arts from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. As a child, she traveled the world with her family and grew up in Iran. She now lives in Washington, D.C.
Diane Cook and Len Jenshel are two of America's foremost landscape photographers. Their work has been published in numerous magazines including National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler, Audubon, GEO, On Earth, The New Yorker, Fortune, and many others. In the fine arts, they have published numerous books of their photographs - their monographs include Travels in the American West, HOT SPOTS: America's Volcanic Landscape, and AQUARIUM.
They have received numerous fellowships including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Graham Foundation, the Design Trust for Public Space, and two grants from the New York State Council on the Arts.
Their photographs have been exhibited internationally in one-person shows all over the world, including the Yokohama Museum in Tokyo, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the International Center of Photography in New York City. Their work is represented in over one hundred museums and collections worldwide.
Diane and Len make their home in New York City.
Ann Curry is a television news journalist and news anchor on NBC's morning television program Today and host of Dateline NBC.
Carolyn Drake is an award-winning documentary photographer. Her work has been supported through grants from the Fulbright Scholar Program and National Geographic and honored by UNICEF, the National Press Photographers Association, and the Society of News Design. She was chosen as one of Photo District News's 30 emerging photographers to watch in 2006 and as one of the Magenta Foundation's emerging photographers in 2007.
Drake graduated with honors from Brown University in 1994 with a degree in American studies and media/culture. She studied photography at the International Center of Photography from 2001-2002 and subsequently pursued a master's degree in visual communication at Ohio University. Prior to becoming a photographer, she worked in New York City as a producer, interactive designer, and writer for award-winning multimedia projects.
Her clients include the Nature Conservancy, National Geographic, Gourmet, Newsweek, the New York Times, and GEO, among others. Her work for National Geographic magazine includes a story on Orthodox Judaism in New York City (February 2006) and the kosher community of Postville, Iowa (June 2005).
Lynn Johnson was a shy girl who spent a lot of high school poring over books in the library. One day, she happened upon a book of photographs by Dorothea Lange and other documentary photographers who had worked for the Farm Security Administration. It changed her life.
"I immediately fell in love with the power of those pictures," Johnson recalls. "In my short and rather sheltered life, I had never seen migrant workers or sharecroppers, and certainly had not experienced loss or pain like that, but I could feel it in those photographs. I had an emotional reaction to them I'd never felt. It made me want to pick up a camera."
She began by making photographs for her high school yearbook, an experience that allowed her to discover her innate talent and something more:
"When you're shy, a camera becomes an entry into life," she says. "It was a kind of shield I could hide my shyness behind, and it allowed me to become an active observer rather than a passive one."
Since then, this shy girl has climbed the radio antenna atop Chicago's John Hancock Tower, clambered around scaffoldings with steel workers, and lived among fishermen on Long Island and guerrillas in Vietnam. She has done in-depth portraits of celebrities including Stevie Wonder, Michael Douglas, Mr. Rogers, and the entire U.S. Supreme Court. But Lynn Johnson's passion remains-just as it was kindled that day in her high school library-documenting the lives of regular people.
Her gripping photo essays of a family struggling with AIDS, of children coping with the brain death of their mother, and many others are honest and sensitive glimpses into the lives of ordinary people dealing with extraordinary circumstances, and are classics of the genre.
Telling those stories, and getting them in print, has not been easy. After graduating from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Johnson was hired as the first woman staff photographer at the Pittsburgh Press.
"Oh good," one of the older photographers at the paper told her when she arrived. "Now we have someone who can cover tea parties."
"Those guys were great, and great teachers, but they were also rather stuck in their time. Because I'm a woman, and because I'm small (she's 5'1"), it never occurred to them that I could do more than cover social events. I needed to prove it to them. When photo assignments would come in, I didn't wait for one to be handed to me. I'd just grab the one I wanted-without telling anyone-and go off and do it."
She stayed at the newspaper for seven years, and during that time she convinced the editors of the Sunday newspaper to let her do photo essays.
"I was getting frustrated with the quick in and out of spot news." Johnson says. "I felt that a lot of the stories needed more space, just out of a sense of fairness to the subjects."
When she left the Pittsburgh Press, she was invited to participate in a project to document fishermen on Long Island called "Men's Lives."
"It was a true documentary project. Adelaide DeMeril, the woman who supported it, said, 'Go and take pictures, go honor these people's lives.' The other photographers and I never had to justify a single frame or a single dime. I worked on the project off and on for a year, and it really prepared me for the kind of work I've been doing ever since.
"The emphasis in doing any in-depth photography is on building relationships, quality relationships. It's what I call thirty-cups-of-coffee-a-frame photography. You need to enter into the community-not just photographically, but intellectually and emotionally. And I began to understand the idea of education through photography and the importance of photographs over time.
"Photographs help people look at things they may not be able or may not want to look at," says Johnson. "Until you can look at something, you can't change it. First you have to look at it, then you have a chance to understand it and can change it.
"For me, photography has been a mission. I don't mean on the grand scale, but in the sense of the daily awareness that each one of us is responsible for the wider community, that your sense of self and sense of responsibility outside yourself is as wide as you can embrace. It's a commitment to try to fulfill that responsibility by doing work about things that matter."
Johnson's commitment and her sensitivity are evident in her photographs. Few other people are able to enter into the lives of others with such emotional and photographic intimacy, and Johnson attributes her ability to do so to a simple priority.
"The people-the relationships and the experiences-are more important than the photographs," she says. "As journalists, our responsibility is not to manipulate people, but to honor them and their stories," she says.
"The only time I literally shake with fear," she says, "is not when the situation is physically dangerous, but when it is emotionally charged. I try to be careful not to impact the emotional terrain, to be aware of and sensitive to how much pain someone is in, and always aware how much of a gift being in their presence is."
She prepares for her assignments by reading a lot and listening to people talk about the subject. "I like hearing people's voices," she says. "Research is an internal process of becoming aware of and comfortable with the material, an incremental education that fills you with the subject."
Beverly Joubert was born in South Africa in 1957. She began her career in photography in Botswana's famous Savute region, where with her husband, film director Dereck Joubert, she began making natural history films. Her work has appeared many times in National Geographic magazine, as well as in over a hundred magazines worldwide.
Erika Larsen's work uses photography, video and writing to learn
intimately about cultures that maintain strong connections with nature.
She began working professionally as a magazine photographer in 2000 specializing in
human-interest stories and sensitive cultural issues.
Her images have been published and exhibited internationally.
Her work has been included in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery,
National Geographic Society, The Swedish Museum of Ethnography and Ajtte Sámi Museum.
Larsen is a recipient of several grants and fellowships including a Fulbright Fellowship, New Jersey State Arts Council Fellowship, Women in Photography Individual Project Grant, Lois Roth Endowment and a World Press Award.
Larsen received a BFA and MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology.
Stephanie Sinclair, b.1973, is an American photojournalist known for
gaining unique access to the most sensitive gender and human rights
issues around the world. Sinclair graduated from the University of
Florida with a BS in Journalism and an outside concentration in Fine Art
Photography. After college, she went to work for the Chicago Tribune,
which sent her to cover the start of the war in Iraq. She later moved to
Iraq and then to Beirut, Lebanon, covering the region for six years as a
freelance photographer. Sinclair joined VII Network when it was formed
in 2008 and became a full member of VII in 2009. She contributes
regularly to National Geographic, The New York Times Magazine, TIME,
Newsweek, Stern, German Geo and Marie Claire among others, and is based
in Brooklyn, NY.
Sinclair was recently awarded the Alexia Foundation Professional
Grant, UNICEF's Photo of the Year and the Lumix Festival for Young
Photojournalism Freelens Award for her extensive work on the issue of
child marriage. She also earned the 2008 CARE International Award for
Humanitarian Reportage and The Overseas Press Club’s Olivier Rebbot
Award in 2009 for her essay A Cutting Tradition: Inside An Indonesian
Female Circumcision Celebration. Sinclair’s other honors include the
Visa D’Or from the 2004 Visa Pour L’Image photography festival in
France, as well as a first place in World Press Photo and the FiftyCrows
International Fund for Documentary Photography's 2004 Central Asia and
Caucasus Grant for her work on women’s issues in Afghanistan. Sinclair
earned another World Press Photo award for her coverage of the 2006 war
between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon and was invited to be part of
the prestigious 13th Joop Swart Masterclass organized by World Press
Born and raised in Texas, documentary photographer Maggie Steber has lived and worked all over the world. Early in her career she worked as a reporter and photographer for the Galveston Daily News and as a picture editor for the Associated Press in New York.
Steber's photos have appeared in magazines around the world, including Life, the New Yorker, Smithsonian, People, Newsweek, Time, and Sports Illustrated as well as Merian Magazine of Germany, and The Times Magazine of London, among others.
Her work in Haiti won Steber two major grants (the Ernst Haas Grant and the Alicia Patterson Foundation Grant for Journalistic Exploration of a Subject) and culminated in 1991 in the publication of a book, Dancing on Fire: Photographs From Haiti. Steber has also won the World Press Foundation Award, the Leica Medal of Excellence, an Overseas Press Club honor, and Pictures of the Year awards. She has served as a judge for many photo competitions, including the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Pictures of the Year competition.
Steber's work for National Geographic has included articles on Miami, the African slave trade, the Cherokee Nation, soldiers' letters, and Dubai.
Steber currently lives in Miami, Florida.
Amy Toensing, an American photojournalist committed to telling stories with sensitivity and depth, is known for her intimate essays about the lives of ordinary people.
Toensing received a B.A. in human ecology from the College of the Atlantic in Maine, where she spent her senior year studying photography at the Salt Institute for Documentary Field Studies in Portland. In 1994 Toensing was hired as a staff photographer at her New Hampshire hometown paper, The Valley News, where she covered the community she grew up in. She then worked for The New York Times, Washington D.C. bureau, covering the White House and Capitol Hill during the Clinton Administration. In 1998 Toensing left D.C. to get her master's degree from the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University. In 1999 she was awarded the National Geographic photographic internship. Since then she has been a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine and recently completed her 13th feature story. Her work has also appeared in publications such as Smithsonian, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, and National Geographic Traveler.
Toensing's work has been exhibited throughout the world and recognized with numerous awards. She has covered stories close to home, from Maine and the Jersey Shore to places on the other side of the globe, including the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea and the Australian outback. She has also covered newsworthy issues such as the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and Muslim women living in Western society.
Toensing lives in the Hudson Valley of New York with her husband, Matt Moyer, who is also a contributing photographer for National Geographic magazine.