A brain is a fascinating thing. As an artist, every piece of information added to your brain today influences all future decisions and creations. So it stands to reason that a regular brain-diet of similar influences with the usual solutions to indistinguishable circumstances is a recipe for mediocrity.

The Importance of Diversifying Your Influences

Homogeneity simply doesn’t lead to invention and innovation. Which is why I’ve always found it so peculiar that the photography industry pushes back so hard when anyone mentions the well-documented imbalance towards male representation in nearly every mainstream professional outlet. Having been a working artist my entire life in multiple fields, including decorative and fine art, it was always an accepted practice for my peers to seek inspiration from diverse sources. This included looking to other artists with different backgrounds, cultures, experiences, eras, and even mediums. For example, a painter can be dramatically influenced by the work of an architect or sculptor or poet, even though the mediums differ significantly. Our life experiences drive us and direct our decisions, so exploring the work of another artist with radically different life experience can open up a world of ideas, which can then inspire entirely unique ideas and concepts.
With that said, here is a group of diverse women photographers (and one man, wink) who are thinking outside the box and exploring unconventional methods and ideas in their work. Each artist is at different points in their careers, some in their first years, and others many years into the profession, but they’re all pushing the medium in exciting ways. Putting this collection of work together has been illuminating to me, and I hope you will find some inspiration here too.

Shanita Dixon: Website | Instagram

I made this series by incorporating one gel and ambient tungsten light! I toyed around with preset filters in post-processing to increase contrast and touched up details in Photoshop.

Stephanie Kotaniemi: Website | Instagram

When I set out to shoot this I was in a creative rut and was just looking to try something new. Mirrors and prisms didn’t seem to give the distorted effects I was going for. I started searching my house for things to shoot through and on a whim grabbed a kitchen glass. The curved part of the glass provided a very distorted effect while shooting through the bottom produced some really fun light fragments.

Allyse Francis: Website | Instagram

I get inspired by books and paintings of the fantasy genre. There’s something fascinating about creating a world that’s surreal and beyond the norm. When creating GIFs and cinemagraphs it’s important to try to draft what you want to do and have a plan. At the same time, it’s equally important to be flexible and to remain open to changes, because what you have in your head may not always translate into what you’re trying to create.

Maxine Wallace: Website | Instagram

Having a strong connection with my subjects is the most important thing to me. Whether its a stranger on the street, a beautiful bride, or a fabulous drag queen, my goal is to be able to capture what makes them beautiful and reflect it back at them. For The (drag) Queens Of Indy, I used a mix of natural and continuous light. I always try to shoot from a low angle or at a face to face level with my subjects to make them seem larger than life.

Kesha Lambert: Website | Instagram

Wedding and people photographer. I love movement, personality, and interesting light. I aim to use the entire scene in front of me where possible. I push the proverbial envelope and take a fair amount of chances with the goal of creating something captivating.

River West:  Website | Instagram

My artistic process is a collaboration of my own experiences and ideas blended with each of my clients’ personalities and vibe. I enjoy not being 100% married to a certain idea of how I want something to turn out and letting things evolve more organically. I honestly feel that when I’m totally in charge of a moment, that can rob the photo of a certain level of authenticity. So I always appreciate the unexpected or the un-choreographed when it happens in front of my lens.

Marlies Hartmann: Website | Instagram

This was my first time attempting a double exposure. It was made in-camera for a couple visiting from Hong Kong. I wanted to make an image that reflected both their relationship but also reminded them of the location where we shot their engagement photos. I love how it looks like her love is radiating out of her and into him.

Meagan Irene Abell: Website | Instagram

I discovered the magic of cinemagraphs and gifs in 2014, and after creating my first one, I was completely and utterly infatuated with the art of it. Meagan makes gifs was a project born of that love, as an expression of something a bit more ‘lifelike’ than your average photograph.

Brenda de los Santos: Website | Instagram

I am primarily a family portrait photographer and also shoot a limited number of weddings, some boudoir, etc. But what I am passionate about is taking a child’s fantasy and empowering them with it. For this Black Panther themed Dora Milaje shoot, we worked at a local waterfall, used OCF, and had to do some MAJOR photoshop work to take a New England waterfall and make it look like the scenery of Wakanda.

Tay Daliese: Website | Instagram

One way I try to set my work apart from others is by posing against the space I’m provided. I really try to draw on the use of leading lines, negative space, and composition. I want my subjects to stand out. When I see a space, I may take a photo of the space with nothing in it to help me line up what I see. From there I incorporate either movement, lines, or try to figure out how I can make what I’m doing stand out.

Annalise Kaylor: Website | Instagram

I made this image in 2016 while out at Nelson Ghost Town, just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. In the middle of nowhere, Nelson has all sorts of interesting left behind objects – old cars, old windmills, old busses and campers, and even this left behind half of a plane. I positioned the prism diagonally across the left side of my lens, bringing into the reflection of the rock and a bit of a tree. I wanted her to seem like an apparition left behind from the crash but I didn’t want to do a double exposure, so the prism allowed me to get that.

Brandi Potter: Website | Instagram

This is a shot I had tried several times before actually nailing it the way I wanted it. It didn’t quite work with wedding dresses because you couldn’t see the brides legs, so at Chan and Kevin’s wedding, I took the opportunity again. I sent them up a small hill and told them to jump and pretend like they were running when they did so.

Toni Shaw: Website | Instagram

I have been captivated by the arts since I was in elementary school, beginning my career as a fine and graphic artist. I was introduced to photography while in college learning film, but the interest in photography did not hit home until the birth of my daughter. My goal is to show new and old that you can be successful as a photographer, using what you have.

Leslie Gomez: Website | Instagram

I am a portrait photographer who specializes in Maternity and Seniors but will shoot anything. I love light and shadows, I love shooting in the studio or on location with OCF.

Irene Wesee: Website | Instagram

My work includes bold colors and cultural inspirations from Africa. I’m best known as being resourceful and will create an image in any setting while being able to manipulate natural light to create the mood. I also create clothing for clients on set (especially for maternity sessions).

Krisandra Evans: Website | Instagram

My wedding photography mentor always encouraged me to find different angles; to get the shot that the guests couldn’t get. That leads me to photograph in a 360 way. Place the couple and shoot them from all the angles which can also look like stalking. BUT! It also allows me to create something that no one else might see like shooting through a decorative glass wall… the glass wall to the restrooms! Yep, the toilets, but it looks like underwater or rain and with the overhead recessed light, it was just perfect to create a piece of art.

Ore Adesina: Website | Instagram

I love incorporating different types of available light into my creative photography sessions. It’s like a surprise bag and you never know what you are going to get. While on a creative shoot, I was photographing a male model with blush angel wings. I noted a light hanging from the ceiling inside the building. Even better, the light looked like a “halo.” I moved the model directly under the light for a “halo” effect and then positioned his body to raise his hands up in a position of supplication.

Elissa Rinehart: Website | Instagram

This was made using a combination of a battery-powered DJ light (a $12 portable toy), long shutter speed, instructing the subject to move or stay as still as possible (depending on the photo), and two other off-camera flashes firing with blue and pink gels.

Veronica Varos: Website | Instagram

I sat this beauty beside a very large open window in an otherwise dark studio with white walls. Outside of the studio, there was a red sign, a blue car, and a bare tree. The sun was high in the sky and there was no direct light. I twisted and turned the crystal prism in different directions in front of my 50mm f/1.4 lens to find the perfect beams of colorful lights.

Amanda Summerlin: Website | Instagram

Sometimes I’ll sneak a couple away during dinner to make a few creative images after dark. The grooms had asked to make a photo with the kettles at the brewery, so I set up a flash behind them with an orange MagMod gel and grid, draped them with the LED holiday lights, and then asked them to just take a moment to reflect over their day.

Kevin Lowery: Website | Instagram

For this image, I used a prism, held parallel to the ground right in front of the top 3rd of the lens. To get that bending/curve effect I slowly turned the prism forward while keeping it parallel to the ground. When I do this I usually opt to go for black/white because it can make some pretty trippy rainbow colors. Sometimes it works well and other times it’s distracting.