National Geographic’s photographers are in a league of their own; the senior photo editor Elizabeth Krist explains that “resilience and courage” are paramount as she and her colleagues regularly send photojournalists into tough terrain for an average of eight weeks. The road hasn’t been easy for women, and of the fifty or so staff photographers to have served the society in the past century and a quarter, only four are women.
In celebration of the women of National Geographic, a new exhibit mounted in Washington, D.C. entitled “Women of Vision” features eleven female photojournalists who have traveled around the world. Stephanie Sinclair is one of these women, and she feels that her gender has given her an advantage. In Yemen, for example she had access to the women’s barracks of an anti-terrorist group, and she was able to get this remarkable shot.
She also spent a decade following child brides in her 2011 project Too Young to Wed. She was inspired by a child bride named Nujood Ali, who fled an abusive older man in his thirties when she was only ten years old. Though her family scorned her, Ali hopped on a taxi and drove to a courthouse in Sanaa, Yemen. She pursued a divorce, and has since become an icon for global women’s rights. Sinclair got a chance to sit with her; here she is pictured with her siblings years after having been granted the divorce. Sinclair speaks intimately of the experience, “She was feisty and very strong. I could see a stubborn streak in her that both serves her well, and sometimes can get her in to trouble.”
Her portraits are breathtaking and shockingly close; the gazes of the girls read as warm and confidential. Sinclair’s subjects are simultaneously childlike and mature, innocent and experienced because of their terrifying experiences. Sinclair’s work has done a lot for raising awareness and spurring activism for child brides; learn how you can help too.
Thanks to CNN and Women of Vision