Taking Pictures: Women of Independent Spirit charts photography’s momentum across the 20th century as a medium for self expression alongside the expansion of women’s independence. The exhibition celebrates the anonymous women who shaped the evolution of vernacular photography during the ‘analog era' of the late 19th to the late 20th century. As self-trained image makers and collaborative subjects, women played out new ways of being in the world both in front of, and behind, the camera. Arranged here in constellations, the photographs connect through shared gestures, shadow patterns and echoing poses of women belonging to an intersection of race, class, age, and era.

These photographs record vibrant times, magic hours, private performances, and experiments with identity. One captured moment contains countless narrative directions speckled with signifiers: a photographer’s shadow spills across a lawn, the silhouette revealing the cinched waist of a dress. Someone glances at the camera with a knowing look, or turns her face away in refusal. Another woman holds her camera at eye-level and gazes into a mirror, recording herself as author of the image. 

Taking Pictures: Women of Independent Spirit is curated by celebrated gallerist Julie Saul and Carly Ries, and brings together photographs from the Collection of Peter J. Cohen

Installation views from the Tampa Museum of Art, April - October 2023