Photographer Luisa Dörr chronicles the incredible accomplishments of trailblazing women for Time magazine’s aptly-titled project, Firsts. Showcasing those who “broke the glass ceiling,” Dörr captures powerful ladies like Aretha Franklin, Barbara Walters, Selena Gomez, and Issa Rae in straightforward portrait photography. Here, the focus isn’t on flashy visuals or elaborate costumes. Instead, Dörr presents these women simply, just as they are, and lets their incredible accomplishments speak for themselves. Accompanying each picture is an interview that details their journey to the top.
Dörr’s direct approach to her image making was echoed in her equipment choices. All of these pictures—including 12 of the Firsts covers—are shot on an iPhone. While not totally strange, the unconventional choice did cause some apprehension from her subjects. “At first, it was difficult,” Dörr told the Instagram blog. “The subjects couldn’t understand that the same phone they carry in their pocket is able to make a professional photograph. But the phone allowed me to move fast—it was just me and the subjects.” That feeling of intimacy is palpable in her pictures; we, too, feel as if we’re alone with Hillary Clinton and Oprah.
Dörr has been a full-time freelance photographer since 2015 and the opportunity to meet these women, relatively early in her own career, was an amazing experience. “More than just women, I saw amazing human beings and professionals,” Dörr recalls. “All of them went through a lot of struggles. This positive fighting energy is what has inspired me the most.”
Firsts features the stories of 46 women and has been compiled into a book. It will be available through Amazon on October 10, 2017.
Luisa Dörr has chronicled powerful women in Time magazine’s series Firsts.
Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) is the first tennis player to win 23 Grand Slam singles titles in the open era. But as a woman, she has faced constant criticism about her body and the clothes she wears on the court. Her solution? “When criticism happens, I try to take a moment to appreciate myself. There will always be criticisms—you have to have so much self-confidence and love for yourself”. #sheisthefirst @time
Issa Rae (@issarae) set out to make TV characters that people could relate to. Now, she has become the first black woman to create and star in a premium cable series. “There’s so much subtlety in the sexism and racism in this industry that you either have to call it out and risk being shunned, or move past it and find your own entryway”. “I’m definitely in the latter category.”
Oprah Winfrey, Selena Gomez, and Hilary Clinton are just some of her famous subjects who “broke the glass ceiling.”
Nancy Pelosi (@nancypelosi) is the first woman speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. She broke what she calls the “marble ceiling” but as a mother-of-five she constantly faced criticism about whether she was up to the job. “Running for office as a woman is hard, because people trivialize everything that a woman has done,” #sheisthefirst @time
Danica Patrick (@danicapatrick) has been racing Indy cars for 12 years. During that time she learned in a “crash-course style” how to protect herself and “deal with the real world.” Now, the first woman to lead in the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500, her success has also been a journey of self-discovery. “It’s not all kittens and rainbows,” @time #sheisthefirst
Aretha Franklin is the first woman to be included into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I grew up listening to her music, meeting her was like connecting several parallel universes at once. After the shoot at her dads church in Detroit, she sang for @time. We were only ten lucky people, listening to what might have been her very last performance. You might see this exceptional performance at https://time.com/aretha-franklin-performs-rock-of-ages-at-the-new-bethel-baptist-church/
The straightforward portrait photography shows these women simply, without any elaborating lighting or costumes. Their accomplishments speak for themselves.
All images via Luisa Dörr.
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