After moving to Dublin a few years back, Veronika Faustmann felt quite isolated in her work. “I missed the alive and supportive network I once had in Hamburg, a network that was formed up during my time as photography assistant,” she tells me. Being a mother had also brought other challenges to Veronika’s professional life. “Questions arose like: ‘Do I need to tell my clients that I am pregnant when they book me?’ or ‘Can I bring my small baby with me to a shoot so I can breast feed him in between?’ I had no clue how to manage it or what was “standard” if there was any standard at all.
“So I started to reach out to other female photographers who I knew were in the same position. It soon became clear that in general, irrespective of motherhood, we experienced challenges working in a creative field. We shared a sense that female photographers are underrepresented or often not taken seriously,” she adds.
Not long ago, Veronika and Kirsten Becken founded FemalePhotographers.org, an active collective for female photographers. “Our motivation is to make the work of female photographers more visible and inspire others that working for a group can be fruitful and diminish the risk of competition. We are learning a lot from each other and everyone brings in individual potential and pushes the whole group through,” says Veronika. “Jennifer Greenburg described our initiative as a tree, and I think it is a very fitting visualization. We grow stronger and develop branches that can take many forms and directions.”
Thanks to a kickstarter campaign, Veronika and Kirsten started their first collaborative book and exhibition project and are planning more biannually. “Our idea is to curate and invite photographers from outside of our group to submit art for each book. This way we are able to show a great variety of international female photographers. In the future we are planning artists talks with members of our collective and other artists all inspired by the discussions we are having amongst each other.”
At the beginning, both photographers were reaching out to artists with more unusual portfolios and strong messages behind and artists they thought could be interested in the idea of creating more awareness for female photography. “A lot of our members’ work is around themes like the female role in society, diversity and gender or motherhood in the arts,” Veronika explains.
“It seems that women still find themselves in the situation of having to choose between having an art career or children. Unfortunately, childcare is still very expensive in most countries and often costs more than 25% of the income of artists. Which usually results in minding the children at home in the early years and therefore missing a lot of time and needed headspace to really indulge in the creative process.
“We hope that by supporting and pushing each other’s work we can inspire positive change regarding the perception of women in society and the media. There is a long history of female artists stepping in front of the camera with humor and wit as their best tool,” she continues.
Working alongside other talented women has inspired Veronika to start more personal projects. “It’s great fun and very exciting to work together with so many different women from all over the world and I can already see how this in itself affects my work and creates a lot more drive and energy.”