5 Strong Women Who Inspired Photographers and How They Did It

In front or behind the lens, the stories of these women will hopefully inspire you!

We’re currently in the middle of one of the most important photography contests we’ve run in years. The theme is women who inspire you. And we’ve partnered with Leica to award one passionate photographer a well deserved Leica Q2 camera. All you need to do is upload an original image of a woman who has made a positive impact on how you see or interpret the world. We welcome self-portraits made through a camera, tell us your story!.  Reach deep down inside and share a story. We want to know. And to further inspire you, we’re sharing some of the emotional stories we’ve received so far.

For over a decade, The Phoblographer has worked to uplift the voices of women. We’ve created various roundups of female photographers and gone really deep with them in our interviews. All have fascinating stories about how and why they create and that’s important to us. Part of photography’s role has evolved further into conveying more transparent stories. That’s one of the reasons why we’re so incredibly proud to have Leica as a partner for this contest. The folks at Leica believe in this as strongly as we do.

In my personal life, there have been stories of many women who’ve inspired me. My aunts are very guilty of this. Former female staffers in some ways still inspire me to work towards being a better leader, man, and business owner. The many women I’ve interviewed and still interact with on a regular basis are all fountains of inspiration. Earlier today I watched a video about a now gone TV channel where the women discuss how it wasn’t always a safe space for them. But they paved the way for lots of others. We all need to realize that it’s a fact of the arts and tech world. I’ve written about it at length many times.

And so by entering this contest, I’m asking you to help us spread the flame. We are gathering as much kindling as possible that can only spread into a brilliant light if we all work together.

Besides, let’s be real. The Leica Q2 is a pretty awesome camera. 

Editor’s Note: We’re showcasing these images because we get all the feels from the stories involved. But we’re also still giving each and every image a fair chance at the running. We hope these photos and stories compel you to enter our portrait contest. We’re eagerly waiting to hear more about the women who inspire you.

Sarah Ascough

For Stella Barclay, horse racing has been a lifetime’s ambition and one she never thought she would fulfil. In a male dominated industry, she became one of only a handful of licensed horse racing trainers in the North West of England, and the only woman in Lancashire to run her own stables. What’s more incredible is that she didn’t get her licence until she was 70 years old. She works 14 hours a day, 365 days a year caring for, buying, selling, and training race horses. Stella is an inspiration to me because I started my (photography) career in my mid 40s, and at that age I wondered if it was too late to take on something new and to make it a success. After I met and photographed Stella at her stables, I was empowered to prove that age and gender isn’t a barrier to successfully pursuing your passion in life, no matter what the industry.

Stéphane de Rouville

The cook It is in the Highlands of Madagascar that the Fifohazana community, a religious movement originating from the “Protestant Revival” and ancestor of revivalism in Africa, was born and remains established for over a century. In the picturesque village of Soatanana, its historic stronghold, some 5,000 followers dress in white, seem to live in perfect harmony, satisfying themselves with little, working the field, praying, singing, and following literally the teachings of Christ. Some speak about a sect, others about sweet dreamers. They have but one aim: bringing peace on earth. This picture shows Marie, one of the cooks of the community, in charge of welcoming the visitors. From sunrise to sunset, until late at night, always wearing a pristine white shirt, she never ceases to be active in her small kitchen, bathed in a natural and sometimes unreal light that enters through the tiny window. The first time I was invited to enter, I immediately was seduced by the simplicity, the delicacy, and the benevolence of Marie, who was silently filling the space with elegance in this Baroque atmosphere. This was the same every single time, an incredible feeling of evolving inside a Vermeer painting.

Tung Vu

This is my aunt as she pose for me on her hospice bed after fighting cancer for 10 years. She was Vietnamese refuge that came over to the United States by boats after the fall of Saigon. She immigrate to a whole new country without knowing the language and with nothing in her pocket to owning her own home and running a successful Vietnamese restaurant, It took her almost 20 years but she was able to build herself up and get the rest of our family to the United States, giving us a better start than the one she got. I still remember a conversation I had with her as a teenager, pondering about what I want to do with my life. She said, “I always wanted to be a dentist.” I ask, “Why so?” She replies, “I love seeing people smiling.”

Magnum Madureira

This happy child is my daughter, Serena, and who holds her is my partner Cinthia. I took this photo on a nice afternoon while my partner sang for Serena during the bath. I could hear the singing and my daughter’s happy laughter from the next room, in which I was separating the clothes she was going to wear. Serena was a desired and planned child, we wanted to have a natural birth with minimal medical intervention, but due to complications she was born extremely premature, with only 27 weeks and 1,080kg. During pregnancy, Cinthia’s amniotic pouch ruptured and she spent 11 days hospitalized without being able to get out of bed. On February 12, 2020 due to the risk of umbilical cord prolapse, Cinthia was rushed for an emergency cesarean section, Serena was born so fragile and small, she spent 62 days in the Neonatal ICU under intensive treatment. Everything that was planned collapsed and we became “ICU parents”, here in my country they only give me five days off so I had to go back to work while my partner spent her days in the ICU, we only stayed together after work. We were completely destabilized, Cinthia had problems with milk production and breastfeeding had to be supplemented with formula. And on top of everything we were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gradually I was forbidden to enter the ICU and little by little Cinthia started to have limited visiting hours, everything was even more uncertain. Serena came home still with the probe used to do the translactation and we spent many days without sleep, not to mention the many returns to the hospital for follow-up, all in the middle of the pandemic. But together we managed to go through all of this and today Serena is a happy and playful child, she is at home, healthy and without any sequelae of prematurity. Sometimes it is almost impossible to believe that we are all well and at home after everything we have been through and with the pandemic that is still going on, this photo is a special memento of the resilience of little Serena and the incredible woman that is Cinthia.

Josh Rose

We grew up with almost no money. My single mother worked as an editor to support her two kids after our dad left. We moved into a small two-bedroom house and my mother slept in the garage so that my sister and I could have our own rooms. She had a sophistication about her that transcended our situation. She listened to classical music, had a dedication to literature, the arts, travel, cooking… and fine wine. As she often said, she raised us solely on instinct. There were mistakes, but there was far more love and affection. She was fond of saying: “there are two kinds of people: those on the world and those in the world.” I strive everyday to be the latter kind, which she herself embodied and through her life, brought out in all of us. This image, taken in 2010, is of her in her final moments, having suffered from cancer at too early an age. My sister and I on either side of her; in the same garage in which she made her bed.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.