One hundred inspiring Australian female photographers have united for a powerful celebration to mark International Women’s Day today, including Batemans Bay’s Elise Searson.
The Loud and Luminous project celebrates and recognises the power of photography and the important contributions of contemporary female photographers, women from across Australia aged between 10 and 90 years.
“I am so honoured and excited, it’s a privilege to be involved with this evolution of women’s arts in Australia,” Elise says.
The project is the brainchild of award-winning photographers, Hilary Wardhaugh, from Canberra, and Melissa Anderson, from Brisbane.
“We have both worked in the industry for over 25 years and during that time we’ve seen little progress for female photographic artists,” Ms Wardhaugh says.
“Loud and Luminous is designed to empower girls and women to pursue creative careers and it is strongly focused on gender equality in the arts.
“We firmly believe women need to work together to change the future and to ensure all of our stories are being told.”
In 2019, the project is a collaboration of 100 diverse Australian women photographers based on the theme of power.
All are taking part in a full-day symposium at the Australian National University today, ahead of an exhibition and book launch of their work in Sydney later this year.
Speaking with Region Media about her ‘Loud and Luminous‘ entry, Elise says her photo was taken in her pregnant sister’s Brisbane kitchen.
“She was 23 weeks pregnant and I was about one year postpartum since the birth of my own child,” she says.
“Being a photojournalist, I’ve always got my camera ready to capture a decisive moment.
“The image speaks to the loss of identity women can go through when they become a mum.”
To see Elise’s photo you will need to travel to Sydney’s Contact Sheet Gallery between April 10 and May 5, followed by the Head On Photo Festival, May 4 to May 19, or buy the 2019 Loud and Luminous book when it is launched on April 10.
Elise says the photos on show will challenge peoples ideas about womanhood.
“I want to shine a light on the dark side of motherhood because it is not all amazing,” Elise says.
“It’s a massive life change, I went through postnatal depression and anxiety, for me personally it was one of the worst times in my life.”
These days Elise is enjoying being a mum more and is hopeful platforms like Loud and Luminous allow for broader conversations about who women are or can be.
Project co-curator, Melissa Anderson says, “If the general public were asked to list influential and iconic Australian photographers from the last 100 years, the list would include very few female photographers. Loud and Luminous aims to reverse this.”
“Some of the stories told in the 2019 exhibition address important social issues, and often ‘silent stories’ that many women are afraid to share.
“While this is an Australian initiative, it has the potential to extend internationally in its message and appeal on gender equality and empowerment,” she says.
Explore some of Elise Searson’s work HERE.