Elisabeth Biondi Statement of the 13th Julia Margaret Cameron Award:
As women’s photography over the years has consistently become stronger and no longer is restricted to--for example portraiture or still life, or images of children--women photographers now excel in all categories of photography. For sure, things have gotten better. There are no longer strictly women or men categories. I hesitated for a moment to become a judge for the prestigious Julia Margaret Cameron prize, as I tend to prefer judging images on merit only. I reflected and thought about the history of photography, the number of male photographers that came to my mind far exceeded the names of female photographers. Without a doubt, in the past extraordinary women like Julia Margaret Cameron had a far more difficult time to carry out their work and to be recognized for their outstanding accomplishments. Giving a prize for excellence to women in photography both honors the work of Julia Margaret Cameron and shines a light on women today who still continue to expand their role in photography.
As I started on the editing process in various categories of this award I was pleased about the excellent work submitted. I simply chose the best pictures not giving thought to the fact that I looked at photography by women exclusively. I would have been hard pressed to distinguish an image taken by a woman from a man’s in terms of its quality. Categories like Documentary Photography and Current Affairs, Digital Manipulation, and Portraiture, for example, had excellent and numerous submissions. It was difficult to pick a winner in both the professional and amateur categories. Bravo!
However, looking at the overall number of images entered, I still detected some gaps. Why no images of war/conflict photography? Women, like Lyndsey Addario, courageously produced excellent work in the past years. Where are the others? Wildlife and Architectural photography had few entries—another gap where women can expand their influence.
Well, there is always next year with hopefully more entries in these areas of photography. In the meantime let’s celebrate this year’s winners!
Visuals Editor, The New Yorker, 1996-2011
Independent Curator, Writer and Teacher, New york
Born and educated in Germany, Elisabeth started working with photographers when Geo magazine, often described as a more contemporary and controversial version of National Geographic, launched in the US. The magazine won many awards for photography and design. Subsequently she moved to Vanity Fair, and as Director of Photography, focused on lively, witty portraiture – which became an important element of the magazine’s success. After seven years at Vanity Fair, Elisabeth returned to Germany to work for Stern, one of Germany’s largest newsweeklies. As head of the Photography Department, she explored the fast-paced world of news and reportage photography, and worked with celebrated photographers all around the world. In 1996, she then returned to New York to become Visuals Editor of The New Yorker for 15 years until she left in 2011 to work as an independent curator, writer, and teacher.
She curated Subjective/Objective and Under the Bridge for the New York PhotoFestival 2011, and New Yorker Fiction/Real Photography at Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea. In the fall of 2011 her exhibition Beyond Words: Photography in the New Yorker was the season’s opening show at the Howard Greenberg Gallery. Her exhibition Widely Different: New York City Panoramas was on view at the Seaport Museum, New York in 2012. Next she curated LIFT Off at the Fridman Gallery in New York and REFUGEE was on view at the Annenberg Center for Photography in Los Angeles. In 2017 she curated Farida, a Syrian Tale, for the Museu da Imagen e do Som in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and most recently Lives & Still Lives, Leslie Gill and Francis McLaughlin Gill and their Circle at the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York.
She teaches at SVA Graduate School for Photography and related Media. Her column Portfolio is published in Photograph magazine. She was a juror for the World Press Photography Awards and the Sony World Photography Awards, in addition to numerous national and international photography juries and she participates in numerous portfolio reviews. She is one of the original founders of The Photography Master Retreat which takes place every year in the south of France. She also advises many up-and-coming photographers and edits their work.