International Women’s Day- A celebration of local female photographers

International Women’s Day is a global day when the world celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance.

In honour of International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate and champion female photographers in the West Midlands. There is an abundance of talent in the area, and our aim today is to showcase local females photographers, giving them a platform to promote their work, talk about their passion, and to tell the stories behind their favourite photo. Below are the women who responded to our call out to be featured today, and we hope that you enjoy their words and photos as much as we do. We are so proud of our city and the women in it.

Faye Alford

Instagram: @fayealfordphotography

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I’m Faye, an amateur photographer from Lichfield.

This photo was taken in the Birmingham central library and it is the one I’m most proud to have taken. I have always loved reading from such a young age and have always been so proud of my Brummie roots- so I think this image captures those two aspects perfectly. Rather like the wide variety of books shown in the above image, Birmingham’s’ diverse and talented photography scene has something to suit everyone’s taste.

Sarah Allen

Instagram: @sabraham2307

Sarah Allen

I downloaded the Instagram app in January 2016 and at that moment I realised I loved taking photos! All of a sudden I started to look properly at things and take time to enjoy them – I found that stopping and looking, taking the time to photograph something was a great way to calm the mind. Once I started taking more photos, I realised that it was architectural photography that I enjoyed, and most bizarrely, I fell in love with concrete! It was the lines, the geometry and the sheer power of those big concrete brutes that seduced me, and as I learned more, I was mesmerised by the utopian dreams of our post-war architects. I wanted to read more and see more, so my love affair with concrete has taken me to London, Leeds, Brighton, Berlin, Munich… but mainly car parks! I have met so many lovely people who have shown me the way, offering tips, advice and becoming good friends. I have been to places I never would have seen.

This photo is of the new library at the University of Birmingham. It isn’t concrete, but it encapsulates what I love about taking photos- lines, symmetry, light, and darkness in equal measure. And it’s gold!

Sarah Bates

Instagram: @Sarahja21

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I was born in Birmingham and although no longer living in the city it makes me proud to see the changes taking place.

My Mom and Grandmother were both Brummies and loved the city as do I.  They taught me how to be a strong woman and they are my inspiration to go out and do the best I can and see life through a different perspective at times!  Photography has very much given me that!

Looking up at Birmingham Library!

 Nicky Butler

Instagram: nicky@warwickshire

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I’m Nicky Butler, I’m married, have 2 grown up children and I live in Warwickshire. I work in local government and I sing in 2 choirs. In my youth, I rode a moped and was a member of a band but hey, not all of us can stay cool as we get older!

This photo was taken at The Birmingham Weekender event in September 2017 outside by the Bull Ring Markets. I’ve tried to find a more recent photo, but this black and white edit stands out aesthetically for me. It’s also strangely interesting to see someone ‘relaxing’ in a hoop in such an unexpected place.

I love to take photos and, despite being a country bumpkin born in Wiltshire, I enjoy spending a lot of time in the city.

I’m proud to be able to support International Women’s Day.

Stella Cash

Instagram: @stellacash58

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My name is Stella Cash I am 60 years old. I have lived in Dudley all my life and I got into photography when I was given a camera for my 21st birthday. It is now my main hobby. The photo I have chosen is of Bumble Hole not far from where I live, I have spent many happy years walking along the canal here. I look forward to being featured in your blog for International Women’s Day.

Natalie Chew

Instagram: @nataliechewphotos

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My husband and I were on honeymoon in Borneo and we’d just flown into Lahad Datu for a 3-day excursion to the Danum Valley. It was a two-hour drive from the airport to the Borneo Rainforest Lodge and we were told our driver would alert us to any wildlife along the way. We were nearly an hour into the journey when our driver pulled over and told us he’d spotted a Pygmy Elephant in the road up ahead, we quietly climbed out of the car to look through our binoculars and found this little guy trotting calmly towards us. He came to a stop a few feet from us and lifted his leg in anticipation of his bandages being changed. Our driver said he was a rescue elephant and was being treated by the rangers for a leg wound; our driver kindly alerted the rangers in the area and we waited with the elephant until a ranger arrived to change his dressings.

Photography, for me, is a way of documenting the beauty of the natural world and all of its inhabitants as well as highlighting the difficulties they face. The primary threat to Pygmy elephants is habitat loss due to logging and conversion of natural forests to commercial plantations, primarily palm oil.  These elephants have an extinction risk of endangered with only 1,500 left in the wild.

Hanny Foxhall

Instagram: @h_foxh

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I am a Mexican photographer with a science background and I have been living in the UK for over a decade. Photography has been my passion since I was a teenager and I have photographed a bit of everything over the years, although I tend to mostly share images of urban themes online and in social media. However, I really enjoy photographing nature, especially flowers which I believe I am better at capturing.I have chosen this image of red azaleas to share with you here because even though it is not representative of the images I tend to share, it is probably one of the few images that I can actually say I am really pleased with. I am leaning more towards fine art photography editing nowadays so this image is also a good example of what I aim my work to be like in the future.

Lou Jackson

Instagram: @women_hold_up_half_the_sky

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I am greatly inspired by the changing seasons and capturing the magic of childhood and nature through the eyes of my son, and lens, in my home town of Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham & beyond. This photo is of my son. Capturing him in nature makes me happy.

Grace Jackson

Instagram: @ that_mama_gracy

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I’m GRACY that mama to 3 beautiful beings. I’m an ex-military photographer and now my babies are my muse. Life’s an adventure and we’re exploring it! My greatest achievement, my children.

Amy Langston

Instagram: @amy.eliza.photography

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The image I have chosen is of my dog Nasher who sadly passed away last year. The reason why this is one of my favourite images is that this was the photo that made me want to get into photography (I took this aged 13). This was at the time where I didn’t know what I wanted in life and when I had my dog it just kick-started my passion for photography. He was sitting on the bed looking really cute, so I grabbed my Canon power shot camera which I used for selfies for Myspace at the time (Oh dear) and snapped the picture when I showed it to my family they said it was just a lovely photo that just captured his personality perfectly. Nasher is a Staffordshire Bull terrier and at the time these breeds were getting bad press, so it was just nice to show family members & friends the real personalities of Staffie’s that belong in a loving home!

The reason I love photography is moments like the one below and I am a bit of dreamer! When I’m out with my camera I always look past what I can see, I always want more so when I’m about to take a photo of let’s say of a park, my imagination just runs wild and I think “Wouldn’t it be great instead of blue skies that I could have the galaxy instead?!” I snap and then I create what I see in my mind. It’s being able to create your own world and bring imagination to life.

Fay Loewy

Instagram: @faylouiseloewy

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I’m Fay and have lived in Birmingham all my life. I’m a PA, and I co-run West Midlands Photography Collective in my spare time. I have always appreciated photography, but it was always from afar, admiring other peoples work. It was only 3 years ago when I bought my first camera and attended a photography meet that I really fell in love with photography and have been taking photos for a hobby ever since.

The photo I have chosen to feature isn’t my normal style. I love taking long walks in the country, capturing nature and wildlife, however, I rarely post them to social media as I’m never happy with the end results.  But on this particular walk with my partner, we spotted a stag quietly sitting in amongst the bushes. He let us sit within meters of him, and that is when I was able to take his stunning portrait. To be in the presence of such a beautiful creature took my breath away, and I had to stop taking photos for a moment to just sit there and enjoy being in his company.

I am usually out and about with my camera most weekends and I have found a passion that I am lucky enough to share with my partner. I love how a hobby, so diverse in its people and in its creativity, can bring a community together to share a passion. And that is why I love being a part of WMPC.

Rachel Mason

Instagram: @rachelmasonphoto

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Warm sun across St Phillips Churchyard. I’ve chosen this image because Birmingham in the summer is beautiful. The green spaces, that we’re very lucky to have in the city, really shine. Photography really inspires me to be creative, show my perspective. To capture something that you’ll look back on in your older years and think wow, I remember that. Exploring more of the city with friends and a camera in hand. Photography holds memories.

Lisa McNaney

Instagram: @lisamac7414

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My Name is Lisa McNaney. I’m 44 years old and I’ve lived in the Black Country all my life, and by the canal for the last 40 years. My hobbies include Photography, cycling and the outdoors, which is great as I can combine all 3 of my hobbies together!

I’ve chosen this picture as it’s taken along the stretch of canal where I grew up, which is at the bottom of my Moms garden, it was taken just as the sun was coming up. I almost missed it as it was cold, and I was going to stay in bed but decided to go out as the weather forecast said it was going to rain later that day and I thought I might not get chance to go out in the snow again. Really glad I went out as I really like this shot.

Photography to me is a hobby and a pastime, I’m an admin for a local Instagram group, which I love doing. I really enjoy looking at the photographs taken in my local area and encouraging fellow photographers by getting to feature their photographs on a daily basis. It’s also a way to express myself and escape from the daily grind, as you can quite easily lose yourself in your photography for hours at a time.

Rebecca Orleans

Instagram: @poppybeadcreative

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This is Katie and I took this shot as part of an IWD project I did in 2016. Katie is a dear friend and helps fight for others. When I took this shot I was still shooting in auto. Fast forward and I have been shooting in manual or aperture to develop my photography for some time now. Helping other women succeed is what Katie does best.

Catherine Peakman

Instagram: @catmoomin

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I’m Catherine Turner and I’m a street and documentary photographer based in Rowley Regis.

This is one of my favourite photos because the gentleman and his dog (Sally) were both so lovely. They were more than happy to take a break out of their daily trip to the newsagents to share some stories and let me photograph them.  Getting them to look at the same time was a just bonus.

Elena Cancelas Rodríguez 

Instagran:@nucky_dana

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I have chosen this photograph because I believe it represents the inner battle within people. The bad and good vibes and pulses fighting against each other. In particular, I think the beauty of the light and shadow and the dance of the models reflects the beauty of the opposites. Eternal yin and yang forces pulsing to win.

 Regarding myself, I am a Spanish wanderer, teaching Spanish for a living and breathing photography as a soul feeding hobby. I love talking to people, discovering cultural differences and new ways of living and experiencing life. And this is where photography comes handy, it helps me to connect with a lovely community of people who have a particular eye to see beauty, life documenting and the chance to talk with models and try to share their inner beauty in my pictures.

Dani Rutland

Instagram: @sittingprettypix

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My name is Dani aka Sitting Pretty Pix and I’m from Birmingham. The reason I chose this particular image is that I love the colours, the detail in the eyes and it reminds me of summer. I love photography because of the way you can tell a story, sometimes several stories, in just one image. I bought my first DSLR about six years ago and started taking pictures of my sons. I developed a real passion for it so decided to join a local photography club and I have never looked back.

Harpreet Sohal

Instagram: @veryraresounds

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I’m Harpreet Sohal, I’m a Birmingham based, amateur photographer who really enjoys aesthetics and new views. Most of my work is based upon different ideas due to my passion for so many different things!

I took this photo years ago (2016 I think) and for some reason, it’s still one of my favourite images I’ve ever taken. I think it’s because I remember exactly where I was when I took it, who I was with, where I was travelling etc. I just remember being so proud of this photograph and how it turned out.

Photography is a way for me to document different pieces of my life and things I find interesting. I can capture emotions, immortalise moments and portray something or someone in different ways. Photography is also a creative outlet with no visual limits. If I can think of something, I can create it and make it a reality through photography.