The Winner and Runners Up From Our Women Who Inspire You Contest

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I’m very excited to announce the winner of the contest we’ve recently hosted with Leica. This was a tough contest to judge, and also difficult in a different way for you folks as well. The stories that came out easily tugged at the heart. But of all entries, we’ve got a solid winner, and some fantastic runners up.

Before I announce the winners and runners up, I have to give a very big thank you to all the folks who work at Leica. For 11 years, this site has worked to champion Feminist values. And when I presented this contest, they loved the idea. Further, they’re a brand that believes in sustainability. How many camera companies will repair a product for you that’s over a decade old? They don’t believe in forcing you to upgrade, feeding into the disposability culture mindset that dominates much of what we buy these days. And they deserve a massive round of applause for their accomplishments.

Thank you, folks.


“This is the last photo I took of my girlfriend before she died. We met while I was working on a book project called SaltyGirls, about women living with Cystic Fibrosis. We became friends and eventually we fell in love. Justina had already had 2 double-lung transplants, one in her teens and the second in her early 20s. During the second one she had a stroke which partially paralysed her right side. In early 2019 her lungs began to fail, and there were no medical options left for us. She died in October 2019. She inspired me with her bravery in the face of such daunting adversity. She inspired me to become a better person. She showed what strength and resilience truly were. And she made me discover what true love actually meant. And I know how much she truly inspired other women living with this horrible disease.”

Ian has long been committed to projects around Cystic Fibrosis. He’s Kickstarted them, got them on major news stations, etc. I’m choosing this photo for a few reasons. Primarily, I think the combination of the lighting, composition, and subject matter are perfectly balanced. The lighting is telling us where to look. Obviously, we’re looking at this woman against a plain background, but she’s surrounded in a shadow that further separates her from the rest of the scene. She’s composed according to the rule of thirds, and this rule makes our eyes move around the entire scene. Finally, the subject matter. When you look at this woman today, you might think she had COVID-19. And unfortunately, it may scare you into thinking about the life-lasting effects of the virus. But that’s not the case in this photo. It’s equally unfortunate that she didn’t make it. Many of you shared stories of women who passed away in your lives. During the holidays, we’re bound to remember them.

Ian’s photo is quite memorable. He deserves the Leica Q2. Congratulations, I hope it goes on to help you make some fantastic work.

Please contact me at and we’ll make sure you get your camera.

Runners Up

Here are the four runners up. These four will be receiving an Amazon Gift Card from us. Shoot me an email at and we’ll get it sorted for you.

Matt Yessian

“My wife, the upset 6 year old’s mother, handles a contentious toenail clipping with grace and beauty. She convinced our daughter that it’s better to be crying and scared while clipping her toenails than doing anything else at that very minute. I’m not entirely sure what exactly it took to get my daughter to this point of acceptance but know that my wife used a deadly combination of patience, bribery, compassion, brute force and love. This killer combination of skills is necessary to manage the outlandish requests from two additional children, a dog and a husband. She commands respect and desires results. Her followers grovel at her feet for a smile of approval and a hug. She flows between tantrums to homework to spills to dinner to bedtime reading without missing a step. Even though she desires a beach vacation, diamonds and a new car she gets resistance, insomnia, and an argument about eating carrots. She deserves a medal but will settle for a bath and a glass of wine. Cheers!”

Matt’s photo is hands down the best documentary style image. I stared at it a while, and it took me some time to fully comprehend everything that was going on. Matt got down to show the perspective. Overall, it’s a great shot. Technically speaking though, I wish it were a bit brighter.

Guy Carpenter

Philippa Mo is one of the best violinists in the UK. When you hear her play, that isn’t up for dispute. She has worked hard, daily, since she was a child to be as good as she is. The skin worn down on her fingers, and the constant wound on her neck from holding the violin tight against her are testament to that. Unlike many other excellent violinists however, and most of her Royal Academy contemporaries, she decided she didn’t want to play in an orchestra. An orchestra job for a musician can be a very prestigious thing, if the orchestra is good, but the fact remains that it is the music equivalent of a 9-5 office job. Instead, Philippa Mo decided to forge her own path, performing mostly solo or sometimes with one or two other musicians. She organises performance dates, and has performed all around the world. That isn’t the easy option for a musician, by a long way. It hasn’t been easy, and she has joked that she would make more money (and have an easier life) stacking shelves at the supermarket. For her, rightly, that isn’t an option. Though when COVID19 threw the world upside down – particularly so for people working in the arts – she didn’t accept the lack of work, and went to work temporarily at a funeral director, assembling coffins. To say that you are “passionate” about something has been reduced to the level of cliché over the years, but Philippa Mo and her violin show the true meaning of the word. And in world where mediocrity has become accepted as the norm that is a very inspiring thing.

If you’ve read the site for a while, you know that nothing gets me like a solid surreal photo. And that’s what we’ve got here. Guy’s photo is stunning with many layers. There is the blue sky, the beautiful tree with leaves, and finally our subject. To make Philippa stand out more from the scene, either a flash was used or there is natural sunlight. Technically speaking, the only things that could’ve made this better is a different colored dress to make the subject stand out more, and better frontal lighting.

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 5 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.

I mean, do I really need to explain this one? Just imagine how you’d feel when your new daughter smiles at you. Let alone, imagine the feelings after that story! There’s a ton of emotion in this shot. Technically speaking, I just wish there was better light on his daughter.

Sarah Ascough

For Stella Barclay, horse racing has been a lifetime’s ambition and one that 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 and 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 pursuing your passion in life and to be successful at it. No matter what the industry.

Horses are just so cool. And this photo has an environmental portraiture style story to it. We learn about Stella and understand that she has something to do with horses. Plus, we’re in the natural environment.