Seven groundbreaking female photographers – in pictures

In 2018, to mark the centenary of the act that paved the way to universal suffrage in the UK, the Royal Photographic Society ran a campaign to identify outstanding female photographers from around the world. Nearly 5,000 were nominated, and a final 100 were selected. The independent charity Hundred+ Heroines was founded by Del Barrett, previously vice president of the RPS, to amplify their influence, and to seek to establish them as household names. The organisation is committed to challenging the under-representation of women in photography, and to encouraging a wider public interest in their work.

Mazibuko was born in Thokoza, South Africa, in 1995. Using photography to create social and political commentary, Mazibuko is inspired by her personal relationship with her immediate environment. Exploring everyday life, she documents her township, capturing chance meetings between herself and her community.

Her photography illustrates and strengthens connections between localised experience, landscape and history. She lives and works in Thokoza.

Akhlaghi, born in 1978 in Shiraz, Iran, focuses on conceptual art and staged photography. By an Eyewitness, a series of seventeen photographs, stages what Akhlaghi refers to as the “mysterious deaths” of journalists, politicians, activists and film-makers.

Assassinations, torture, accidents, suspicious and natural deaths are all represented; the photographs are at once a record of localised and national distress, and an attempt to navigate the turbulence of Iran’s modern history.

Pairing images with explanatory texts in both English and Farsi, each work balances historical reconstruction with the conflicting accounts that arise in the aftermath of trauma.

Shah is a photographic artist based in the UK. She spent an earlier part of her life living between India, Ireland and the Middle East.

This migratory experience is reflected in her practice, which often focuses on the notion of home, belonging and shifting cultural identities.

Her series Nalini is an ongoing project that focuses on the intimacy, distance and tensions between the generations of women in Shah’s family, and how their histories, memories and bodies are intertwined.

Koenning is a photographer from the Ruhr in Germany, now based in Melbourne, Australia. While situated in the documentary tradition, her distinctive visual style reflects her intuitive, experimental approach.

Her current series, Swell, is a protest against the Australian government’s restrictions on green activism and conservational philanthropy.

Juxtaposing mini-ecologies across Australia with details of the human body, the work highlights the vital connection between people and place to encourage collective urgency.

Habjouqa is a Texan-Jordanian photojournalist, artist and educator with a primary interest in gender, social and human rights issues in the Middle East. Her work has been cited as a powerful investigation of interrelation between religion, politics, economics and cultural production.

Her collaborative project Sacred Space Oddity explores overlap between the sacred and profane in the lives of Palestinians and Israelis, challenging the dichotomy between secular and religious practices.

Markosian is an American-Russian documentary photographer, writer, and film-maker of Armenian descent. Known for her photo essays, her work is characterised by intimate explorations of national and familial history.

In her series Santa Barbara she re-enacts the story of her childhood, recreating her mother’s escape from post-Soviet Russia to Santa Barbara, California, through film and photographs.

Featuring film stills from the 1980s soap opera Santa Barbara – the first American TV show broadcast in Russia – alongside staged archival family photographs, Markosian’s work blurs the distinction between fact and fiction.

Courtney-Clarke, born in Namibia in 1949, is a documentary photographer whose work frequently explores the resilience of communities enduring the rapidly shifting landscapes of Namibia.

Her latest book, When Tears Don’t Matter, portrays the lives of the remaining bushmen in the Kalahari in eastern Namibia, who eke out a living amid the daunting demands of nature. Attracted by human passage, destruction and intervention, Courtney-Clarke captures the life of the community and shares in its perpetually unfolding story.