Leica Camera USA has announced the three recipients of its third annual Leica Women Foto Project Award. As part of Leica’s larger initiative to expand diverse representation in the photography industry while also fostering inclusion of all perspectives, the Leica Women Foto Project is an ongoing commitment to elevating marginalized voices while empowering the female point of view through photography.
This year’s awardees — Rania Matar, Rosem Morton and September Bottoms — were selected by a diverse panel of judges ranging from award-winning photojournalists to renowned contributors to the world of photography. Each winner will be awarded $10,000, a Leica SL2-S camera with Leica Vario-Elmarit 24-70 ASPH lens and a 4-week photography exhibition at Fotografiska New York.
Beginning March 8, 2022, the exhibition will also feature the work of this year’s Leica Oskar Barnack Award winner, Ana María Arévalo Gosen. To further amplify the female perspective, Leica will host the Leica Women Summit at Fotografiska New York on March 12 and 13, a 2-day event comprised of comprehensive multi-platform programs serving to inspire conversations on the photo industry and reframe the narrative.
“The third annual Leica Women Foto Project Award underscores our ongoing commitment to diversity in visual storytelling. Our winners this year demonstrated extraordinary skill, grace, and bravery, creating works that are as daring as they are vital. With this year’s Award and the overarching initiative, we aim to illuminate visual storytellers through programs and resources that foster the development and amplification of the female perspective.”Kiran Karnani, VP of Marketing for Leica Camera North America
Rania Matar, acclaimed Lebanese photographer and 2018 Guggenheim Fellow, traveled to her home country to produce her stunning project “Where Do I Go?,” inspired by the young generation of Lebanese women whose resilience and hope shine through the complexities within her country.
As part of her larger initiative and bestselling photography book, “SHE,” Rania’s winning project explores issues of personal and collective identity through female adolescence and womanhood. A gripping and beautifully-shot examination of subjectivity and the female gaze, Matar portrays the raw beauty of her subjects: Their age, individuality, physicality, and mystery, photographing them the way she, a woman and a mother, sees them, beautiful and alive.
Rosem Morton, following a decade-long career as a nurse, became inspired by the intimacy of everyday life amidst gender, health and racial adversity, so she picked up a camera.
Now, she is a documentary photographer, multiple-time National Geographic Photo Grantee. And now, a Leica Women Foto Project Award winner with her shatteringly intimate and urgently important project, “Wildflower.” An interrogation of the effects of rape and the devastating aftermath it has on victims, Morton’s photos document her own experience with victim shaming and blame a month after her own sexual assault. Exploring life after trauma through paired images and journal entries, the resulting project bears witness to the crippling effects of rape and cycles of violence against women, as well as the photographer’s own story of hope and endurance.
September Bottoms, born and raised in the humble state of Oklahoma, is a self-taught photographer and New York Times Photography Fellow who focuses her work on women’s issues, family and poverty as well as the intersection of the three.
Her winning project, “Remember September,” is an amalgamation of these themes; a visual memoir of the artist’s own family, shot through the lens of sexual trauma and poverty. Occupying a unique space between aesthetic beauty and grotesque subjectivity, Bottoms’ work explores the effects of intergenerational trauma through femininity. Daring to trace these emotional and physical wounds to their original sources while interrogating her own identity as a member of a family plagued by abuse and mental illness, Bottoms seeks to break cycles of violence against women through her own story of resilience and hope.