8 (Soon To Be Famous) Female Photographers To Watch

women to watch photographers

March 8 is International Women’s Day – a day that’s not only about promoting equal rights, but also about shining a spotlight on the achievements of women everywhere.

So what better time to highlight some of the photography world’s up and coming female talent?

If we think about what it takes to be a great photographer, the answers can be many and varied. Born talent, drive, a sense of adventure, an ability to connect with a subject or hit the shutter at just the right moment…

These qualities, of course, transcend gender and culture. But sometimes those who are at risk of being overlooked can benefit from being brought into the spotlight. That’s what we’re aiming to achieve this International Women’s Day.

So without further ado, here are 8 young female photographers to watch in 2020.

1. Kay Dargen

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no place to rest your head

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Still in her early twenties, Kay Dargen has already proved herself a master in the melding of fantasy and reality. To sum up her work in a word? Awesome.

Kay’s photography projects not only require an active imagination but also the impressive digital retouching skills to bring her visions to life.

She credits her somewhat dreary surroundings of Fargo, North Dakota, for her creative spark.

“Being from a region of infamously underwhelming scenery, I’ve embraced my fascination with color to create images that induce nostalgia and wonder,” she told Shotkit when we featured her work recently.

Definitely a young lady to watch, you can follow her on Instagram here.

2. Zelle Westfall

At just 18 years of age, Zelle Westfall already captured the attention of the photography world by sweeping home the 2019 Sony Youth Photographer of the Year award.

Zelle’s style leans toward vibrant colours and contrasts, often with a dash of the provocative thrown into the subject matter.

With an upcoming move from Atlanta to New York to further her photography journey, we’ve no doubt she’ll go on to create more award-winning imagery.

You can follow Zelle here.

3. Valerie Chiang

Born in Taiwan in 1992, Valerie Chiang started out at a conservatory studying piano performance. Seems it wasn’t her true calling: after two years she transferred to film and TV studies and has now carved out a niche for herself as a photographer in New York.

“It’s tough to believe she’s only a few years on the scene,” said W Magazine, recently naming her as one of 10 new fashion photographers to follow.

With a talent for capturing beautiful and natural black and white portraits, this rising star can already be found snapping celebrities for New Yorker magazine as well as fashion features for the likes of Vogue, WWD and ELLE Magazine.

You can follow her work here.

4. Iggy Smalls

Iggy told us in her Shotkit feature that photography runs in her family.

Born in 1992 in Norway, this young photographer now carries on the legacy, shooting analogue on her go-to Hasselblad 500 C/M and describing her style as “spontaneous but focused”.

Along with naturally having a keen eye for colour and detail, Iggy spent time honing her craft by completing a BA in Photography & Imaging.

With a mounting list of publications to her name, as well as exhibitions in various countries, Iggy continues to demonstrate that not everything these days needs to be digital.

Keep an eye on her projects here.

5. Allison Zaucha

Los Angeles based photographer Allison Zaucha captures the raw and the real in her work as a photojournalist.

Her photos are the kind that tell stories, convey emotions, and put the viewer right there in the moment. It’s this quality that’s lead her to be published in Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Forbes, Wall Street Journal and many more.

In 2018 she was nominated for the PDN / Photo District News 30: New and Emerging Photographers to Watch. This year she landed on the ARTPIL 30 under 30 list of women photographers.

Well deserved: she’s definitely one of the female photographers to watch right now in the photojournalism space.

Follow her here.

6. Mahé Elipe

Credit: @_mahelipe_ on Instagram

Born in 1991, Mahé Elipe is a French photographer based in Mexico.

Photography for her is a loom on which stories of people and cultures are woven together. As a photojournalist, she captures everyday life in all its grittiness and beauty, and she does so with a distinctly human touch.

Her Women Stories concept chronicles subjects from women’s rights to the lives of female miners and farmers in Mexico, all in sequences of images that speak more deeply than any words.

In 2019, she was one of the winners of Reuters Photojournalists Grants.

Follow her here.

7. Rhea Dillon

Despite her young age (she’s still in her early twenties) Rhea Dillon has already made quite a mark.

Granted, she’s much more than a photographer – she’s a visual artist who also uses film, poetry and writing to tell personal stories that largely revolve around matters of colour and race.

She was chosen as one of 25 emerging international photographers to be featured in the Red Hook Labs annual summer group show in New York, and was ranked number 60 in the Dazed 100 list for 2019 – a list that charts the rise of those defining popular culture in the present moment.

We can’t help but agree – keep your eye on this female photographer in 2020 and beyond.

Follow Rhea here.

8. Olivia Bee

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For Van Cleef & Arpels

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Granted, Olivia Bee has been building up her photographer profile for some time. In fact, she’s hopped and skipped from list to list over the last few years – working her way from Flickr’s 20 under 20 to Forbes’ 30 under 30, along with countless other awards and exhibitions.

She’s also worked up a considerable social media following, like the 100k-plus Instagram fans who devour the dreamy and nostalgic, yet somehow raw and emotive, imagery she produces.

Olivia’s work spans from fashion to portraiture to commercial, and she has a long list of renowned publications and clients to her name.

With her star continuing to rise, we think she’s well worth keeping an eye on as a female photographer to watch.

You can follow her on Instagram here.

Final Words

With so many inspiring female photographers across every genre, it goes without saying that this is just a small sample of the rising talent out there.

These women are also a testament to the fact that age and gender are no boundaries to having a bold vision, creating impactful work and garnering international applause and attention.

Do check them out, and feel free to share your own nominations for women to watch in the comments.

Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.

Tania Braukamper is an Australian-born writer who also loves to take pictures on her banged-up (yet surprisingly resilient) Canon 5D Mark III. She currently lives in Portugal.

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