This empowering #Girlgaze exhibit celebrates young female photographers

When not even one-third of professional news photographers are women, you have to wonder: Whose view of the world are we seeing on a daily basis?

That question is at the center of a new photography exhibit called #girlgaze: a frame of mind, a project that aims to highlight the way female-identified photographers and their female subjects experience the world.

A multi-platform project that includes a robust Instagram account featuring a collection of curated images, a forthcoming zine and, most recently, the exhibition of more than 150 photographs by young women from around the world at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, the initiative has grown rapidly since its inception in February this year.

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"But Still, I'll Rise," by Amanda Bjorn, age 27

Created by photographer and TV personality Amanda de Cadenet — the youngest woman to ever shoot a Vogue cover and host of the Lifetime show The Conversation — one of the goals of Girlgaze is to combat gender inequality worldwide.

Says de Cadenet,

“We are thrilled to share the views, experiences, and ideas of so many talented girls — however they identify and wherever they come from — with a new audience. Female voices are so often marginalized. If we are ever to achieve gender equality, which is what we’re striving for, it’s crucial to include their voices. This exhibition shows girls as they are: smart, perceptive, creative, and bold.”

Girlgaze began on Instagram as a hashtag, inviting emerging female photographers to submit their photos for consideration on the collective’s Instagram account; the account is curated by high-profile artists including director Sam Taylor-Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey) and model/actress Amber Valletta (Hitch). To date, the Girlgaze collective has received more than 450,000 submissions on everything from identity to beauty to relationships to mental health to creativity.

"Carefree Black Girls," by Leona Moore, age 25

Among those featured in the Los Angeles exhibition is Dara Block, an emerging photographer whose work has been published in the pages of Vogue Italia. She says she began submitting photos on Instagram using the #girlgaze hashtag about a year ago, and was “shocked and honored” when Girlgaze asked to show her photos in the L.A. exhibit.

“The Girlgaze project is important to me because I think there are so many women photographers out there who don’t have a voice and don’t get seen,” she says. “I would love too see more women photographers doing more fashion editorials and making films. Even in 2016 there still is a gender gap, so I think Girlgaze is doing something to make a difference in the future for women and photography.”

Block’s advice to other aspiring young photographers is simple: “Keep it personal.” She explains, “Taking photos of what is important to you will always find an audience. No matter if it’s serious or lighthearted, when you capture something that has a close connection to yourself, those are always the most memorable and statement-making [photos].”

#girlgaze: a frame of mind is on display at the Annenberg Space for Photography until February 26, 2017, so be sure to check it out if you’re in the L.A. area!

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