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  • Paulette Michayluk

I’d like to say “it’s in the bag” … but it’s not … it’s on the bag.

It cannot be said that women have been accepted easily into the photography world. In fact, history shows us that not only have women continually had to fight for their rightful place but even when recognition is achieved there is no guarantee that they are written into history.

Early in 2020, PhotoED Magazine, collaborated with the School of Photographic Art Ottawa, to poll Canadians for a Canadian list of important photographers – specifically a list of women who have made significant contributions to the practice. A public tribute to women who have added to the canon… The list of suggestions collected is impressive and one that is meant to inspire further conversations.

And that brings me back to my bag – it sports the names of the five finalists: “Maynard, Cohen, Kaplan, Astman and Clark.” To my mind these women are all remarkable - they have changed not only how we look at photography but at photographers. Each woman is, dare I say it, “mistress” of her craft. They may have worked independently, but they share common traits – they prove limitless in their visions; they are tenacious; and all are driven to explore and create. Moreover, each fought for their place, garnered respect, notoriety and projected their voice UN-apologetically.

As the host of the Defend the Darkroom podcast, I’m honoured to share their stories.

I have been fortunate in having had the opportunity of interviewing Kaplan, Astman and Clark for the podcast. Our conversations confirm that these women are more than visionaries – they are leaders and perhaps most importantly mentors. These did follow the trodden path, they set their own compass - creating community, supporting and promoting others. Even as they demand rigour they demonstrate thoughtfulness. And in speaking with them, I was truly inspired.

Ruth Kaplan is based in Toronto; she is an observer, a recorder of moments within communities that she inserts herself into. Her images are thoughtful portrayals of individuals being themselves. They are not posed or influenced. She is looking to understand, to engage with the subject and her images are witness to the respect and connections she has fashioned.

Check out my interview with RUTH KAPLAN - HERE.

She is represented by Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto.


Barbara Astman is a creator and an inspiration to the next generation. In her work she somehow demonstrates an inner dialogue that is so fascinating one can’t help but become engaged. What I find staggering is how she remains so involved in all aspects of her life and her community: she has an active studio practice (one that reveals her fascination with new media); is involved is many different boards and committees; all while being a notable professor and past department head at OCAD U.

Check out my interview with BARBARA ASTMAN - HERE.

She is represented by