Today is the perfect day to celebrate women and remind ourselves how amazing we are. So, today is also a perfect day to share some work from female photographers. The second annual Leica Women Foto Project Award has just announced its winners, and we share their beautiful photos with you.
The goal of the contest is to help empower the female point of view through photography. The 2021 winners are Matika Wilbur, Karen Zusman, and Anna Boyiazis. Each of the winners will be awarded $10,000, a $4,995 Leica Q2, and a mentorship to support the continuation of their award-winning photo project.
Take a look at the winning projects, along with the stories about them and the photographers who created them.
Matika Wilbur is an acclaimed Tulalip & Swinomish Pacific Northwest photographer and social documentarian. Her winning project is a stunning visual narrative of Tribal sovereignties in the US, titled Project 562, and it’s aimed to “change the way we see Native America.”
Wilbur has visited over 400 Tribal Nations in all 50 US states by car, RV, plane, train, boat, horseback, and on foot to create her project. She has exhibited her work and presented at scores of leading galleries, universities, and other venues while hosting her groundbreaking podcast, All My Relations, ranked at the top of feminist and race and society categories.
She is currently completing a 500-page book for Ten Speed Press of Project 562 photographs and oral narratives and is curating a massive career retrospective exhibition, and is a National Geographic Explorer for her Alaskan Tribal series. Matika’s extraordinary creative initiative and singular body of work began after a dream with her grandmother, who asked her to photograph their own peoples. Matika honors her ancestor by portraying the richness and diversity of lived experiences of Indian Country with bold and inspired creativity.
Karen Zusman is a New York-based photographer who began her journalism career documenting human trafficking in Malaysia. Over the past several years, she has made over 20 trips to Cuba for a photo book project.
When travel came to a stop during the pandemic, Zusman was spending more time in New York. And this is where the inspiration for her winning project, The Super Power of Me Project, was born.
Growing out of her involvement with a Black Lives Matter bicycle protest group, her latest portrait series documents the strength and spirit of children of color in New York City. “It shows who they are before the world tells them otherwise,” the photographer explains. With the help of the Leica Women Foto Project Award, Zusman plans to expand the project to an outdoor exhibit and workshops that foster creativity and self-esteem building for children to express, protect and expand their vision of who they are.
Anna Boyiazis is a documentary photographer whose areas of focus include human rights, public health, and women and girls’ issues. Based between Southern California and East Africa, she has been working on her project Finding Freedom in the Water since 2016.
The winning series bears witness to women and girls in Zanzibar who are learning to swim, which she describes as, “an act of emancipation in an ultraconservative region where such an act conflicts with patriarchal, religious norms.” Boyiazis’ work focuses on an in-depth, visual narrative of these women and girls, revealing the intimate context of their daily lives. With the support of the Leica Women Foto Project Award, she will be able to resume her work on the project later this year by returning to Zanzibar during the dry season and continuing to document the women and girls she has built relationships with so far.
It wasn’t only the contestants that were women, but also the contest judges. Wilbur’s, Zusman’s, and Boyiazis’ projects were selected by nine influential women in photography, art, and journalism.
Leica Camera will also be holding a virtual Summit in April to further celebrate women in photography. It will be open to the public, and those who submitted for the contest will have access to some exclusive content. For additional details on the exact dates and sign-up information, visit Leica’s website and follow Leica on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.