The visual stories populating major newspapers and magazines have historically been chosen, assigned, and told by men. But more and more, the tide is shifting, with the belief that a variety of voices means richer perspectives on world events.
Today, young women comprise the majority of students in college-level photojournalism and documentary programs. Women have climbed the ranks and lead the photo departments at major publications like the New York Times, Time magazine, and National Geographic. Photographers, fed up with the excuse that photo editors don’t know enough contacts outside of their networks, have spearheaded databases like Women Photograph, Diversify Photo, and Native Agency to offer up more voices in the industry. Still, the gender gap persists: Last year, Women Photograph reported that in half of the major newspapers it analyzed, women only made up single-digit percentages of lead photo bylines. And while many publications are assigning more stories to photographers of different backgrounds, wire agencies—who supply breaking-news images to all major outlets—seem far behind.
Here, we present 20 female photojournalists and documentary photographers who are on the rise. Each of them herald change to the field in their visual style, unique perspective, and focus on underrepresented topics.