"I was the mystery of an anatomy, a question asked but not answered, tight-roping between awkward boy and apologetic girl"
Lee Mokobe, a 20-year-old South African slam poet and co-founder of Vocal Revolutionaries.
Despite the efforts to push and elevate the voices of women photographers, female-identifying, migrant and non-binary visual artists and documentary makers are still woefully under-represented in the documentary community. On Womanhood looks at the work of nine female-identifying visual journalists from around the globe and highlights stories that matter to us. The mystical, sensuous, and soft beauty of their gaze and depth of their stories touch on issues that not only keep with the times, but are rather timeless - identity, gender, health, conflict, and migration.
Most of the work exhibited poses more questions than it offers specific answers, just as the definitions of who we are are just as muddled and confusing in our human reality. As Lee Mokobe states: we are often "the mystery of our own anatomy, a question being asked but not answered."
Documentary photography has the power to transport us around the world - it challenges our perceptions and ideas. But in an industry dominated by a small pool of perspectives, who tells these stories is just as important as the stories themselves. On Womanhood reminds us about the diversity behind female-identifying voices and the stories that concern them. It also serves as a reminder of our responsibility as gatekeepers and viewers to diversify the stories we put out.
In an industry still dominated by men, we feel the need to reclaim space that reflects who we are and how we see the world - our contribution to photography is pivotal to the way we understand our place on earth.
Laura Beltrán Villamizar is a photography editor and writer born in Bogotá, Colombia.
She is the Projects Picture Editor for NPR, working with the organization’s growing efforts to shape their enterprise visual journalism. She is also the founder of Native – a non-profit platform dedicated to the promotion and development of visual journalists from under-represented regions and communities. Laura has written extensively on localised non-western visual journalism and photography for Nieman Reports at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism of Harvard University.
Before founding Native, she worked at the World Press Photo Foundation, where she led educational programs in Latin America and co-produced the yearly Joop Swart Masterclass in Amsterdam.
Prior to joining World Press Photo, she was Associate Photo Editor for Revolve Magazine where she oversaw long-term features, international commissions for print and online, and curated the magazine’s emphasis on visual storytelling.
Laura has served on the jury for The Catchlight Fellowship 2018 and The Sinchi Photography Competition for Indigenous and Native Photographers 2017. She was also selected for the Alexia’s Foundation Seminar: “Latin America: Stories That Drive Change” (Miami, 2017). Laura currently lives and works in Washington, D.C.