I discovered Girlgaze on Instagram in 2016. Back then it was a small but mighty (36k followers) curation project celebrating a diverse range of work by young female photographers. It was initially conceived as a call-to-arms, a method of highlighting the social and gender bias in the creative industries. In twelve months it’s rapidly evolved into a full digital media company that aims to support, nurture and create space for future generations of female photographers. In addition to the Girl Gaze community, they’ve created an editorial platform, a digital zine, exhibitions and recently published a book ‘Girlgaze: How Girls See the World’.
Founded in 2016 by photographer, writer and presenter and Amanda De Cadenet, GirlGaze was born out of a desire to nurture the next generation of female photographers. She brought on an accomplished team of women to collaborate with, including photographers Sam Taylor-Johnson, Inez Van Lamsweerde, Lynsey Addario, Collier Schorr and model and activist Amber Valetta. “It was important to me that we included not just one style of photography. I wanted to provide visibility into different entry points and showcase multiple points of views. All those women can speak on what it takes to succeed in those genres. We all come from different backgrounds but we all share the desire to support the feminist agenda and to close the gender gap in media.“
Girlgaze provides a powerful and inclusive space for young Gen Z women to connect through visual activism. They explore identity, representation and the broad range of challenges young women face. Amaal Said, a Danish born Somali photographer based in London focuses her work on women of colour fuelled by her desire to challenge and evolve mainstream western beauty standards. Her work speaks to belonging, migration and youth. Said’s intimate portraits blend daylight and everyday environments to create a loose, yet striking aesthetic.
Similarly Shingi Rice (@bluespit) grew up feeling isolated, surrounded by culture she did not identify with. Through fashion and portraiture she aims to explore identity and representation creating more inclusive images for young women of colour. “We are creating balance and providing equal representation of women and all points of view. We need to see the perspective from everyone – males, females, queer people, people of colour, non binary and non gender conforming individuals, any and all marginalised communities, and these are issues that are experienced by everyone.”
‘Girlgaze: How Girls See the World’, published in October is the physical manifestation of the online community, showcasing work that embodies how young women perceive the world. The collection of images, spans genres from documentary to fashion, covering subjects ranging from sexuality to life in war-torn countries. The contributors are an exciting group of emerging talent including Luisa Dorr, Bree Holt, Jessica Fulford-Dobson and Monica Lek.
The final chapter is dedicated to mental health. Recognising social media’s desire to present the world as a highlights reel, this section explores complex subjects including mental illness, suicide survivors, depression and grief. “We will continue to cover subjects that are relevant to our community. They may be taboo, they may be uncomfortable, but we feel that by bringing awareness to the issues, we are providing a safe and supportive environment for balanced representation.”
Girlgaze is providing a vital space for young women to redefine visual culture through their own experiences. Since it’s inception, it has received 2.8 million submissions, a figure that emphasises the global desire to connect through creativity. What makes Girlgaze truly unique is their desire to close the loop. They go beyond a promotional platform and actively seek to create tangible opportunities for their community. To date they have created paid jobs through media partnerships with everyone from Google to Warby Parker. As they move into talent management, their potential to reshape culture is limitless