In Sight

Here are some of the winning images of AAP Magazine’s ‘23 Women’ contest

The 23rd edition of All About Photo magazine presents the winners of an open call for images acknowledging the “strength, beauty and resilience of women around the world.”

25 photographers this year were awarded the top three cash prizes for their work.

The competition was open to any photographer, regardless of gender.

Here is a look at the top three winners along with a selection of work that was given merit awards. You can see the full spectrum of the winning images over at the magazine’s website, here.

First Place: Susanne Middelberg (Netherlands).

Susanne Middelberg/Susanne Middelberg

Susanne Middelberg/Susanne Middelberg


Susanne Middelberg/Susanne Middelberg

In my portraits, I am looking for honesty and vulnerability. I believe that vulnerability makes us nicer human beings and that this makes the world a little more friendly and more understanding. People who show themselves vulnerable give the other the confidence that they themselves may be who they are. I am most fascinated when I can see opposite qualities of a person at the same moment. I find this exciting because people are complex. I hope that the portrait touches something of the viewer himself. In this series, I chose to use only daylight to make the image as natural as possible.

Susanne Middelberg/Susanne Middelberg

Second Place: Aline Smithson (United States)

Aline Smithson/Aline Smithson

Aline Smithson/Aline Smithson

‘Arrangement in Green and Black, Portrait of the Photographer’s Mother’

Aline Smithson/Aline Smithson

Inspired by the composition in Whistler’s class portrait of his mother, “Arrangement in Green and Black” is a series that examines compositional relationships, unassuming details and humor. Using my own mother as muse, this series was produced as hand painted silver gelatin prints.

Aline Smithson/Aline Smithson

Third Place: Maura Allen (United States)

Maura Allen/Maura Allen

Maura Allen/Maura Allen

‘Ranch Sage’

Maura Allen/Maura Allen

For centuries, the stories, images and ethos of the American West have been dominated by men — the lone cowboy, the hard-working rancher — with women relegated to the role of romantic ingenue or rodeo queen. Women’s roles and responsibilities in the West are (and were) significant but rarely documented or celebrated. That blind spot is surprising, considering that the history of photography and the settling of the American West are inextricably linked. In my project “Natural Order,” I seek to right the balance by telling a different story, one with women of the West in their rightful place, front and center.

Maura Allen/Maura Allen

Merit award. B Jane Levine (United States)

‘Nod of Recognition’

“Nod of Recognition” is a series of portraits of strangers captured on the streets of New York. I walk, observe and photograph people, following the path of light as it moves around the city. I highlight a moment in time juxtaposed against today’s incessant world. I use the light and composition to frame the subject in this found setting. I attempt to capture authentic moments when my subject is unaware of my presence. The people in my photographs all project a characteristic, gesture or physical trait that I recognize in myself. This series is a composite of pieces of myself — a self-portrait.

Merit award. Jo Ann Chaus (United States)

‘Conversations With Myself’

“Conversations With Myself,” a body of work in which I assume the roles of assorted women, from the era of my birth, 1950s, donning garments that previously belonged to a close relation. I conjure and perform as each of them, exploring through their embodiment multifaceted aspects of the female/human psyche, exploring the recognition and progression of self-awareness and identity, all the while braiding the past with the present. The work is ongoing, as I continue to look back, in, out and ahead, and consider my presence at home, in the environment and as a citizen of the world at large.

Merit award. Lenka Klicperova (Czech Republic)

‘Women of Islamic State’

I first went to war-torn Syria in August 2015. I witnessed the Kurds fighting against the Islamic State on the front lines. When the Kurds also liberated Raqqa, the capital of the caliphate, I finally met them — women who in a special way frightened and fascinated me. Women of Islamic State fighters, the wives of the most dangerous men on this planet. I met them first in January 2018, when I got permission to talk to captured women at Ain Issa camp near Raqqa. In this place, I met Zama from Dagestan, Lena from Germany, Sonja from Italy, Khadija from Tunisia. … There was the whole world in one small detention camp. In early 2019, I watched, along with troops of the Kurdish group the Syrian Democratic Forces, the last battle in Baghouz, a small town in Syria. During the fighting, many women and children fled from the area of the front line. The Kurds gathered them in the desert behind the front line. They were taken on trucks to another detention camp. Here they are until today. Nobody knows what to do with them. They wait only for the rise of a new Islamic State.

Merit award. Constance Jaeggi (United States)

Constance Jaeggi/Constance Jaeggi

Constance Jaeggi/Constance Jaeggi

‘The Devils’

Constance Jaeggi/Constance Jaeggi

Colette performs a star during a training session at the Devil’s Horsemen. I shot my project ‘The Devils’ during the nationwide lockdowns while isolating at the Devil’s Horsemen in Britain. The Devil’s Horsemen is a leading supplier of horses and stunt men and women to the film industry.

Constance Jaeggi/Constance Jaeggi

Merit award. Anna Laza (Romania)

Anna Laza/Anna Laza

Anna Laza/Anna Laza

‘Metaphysical Body Landscapes’

Anna Laza/Anna Laza

I spent my childhood at my grandmother’s house in Romania, near the Carpathian Mountains. Seeing humanity’s strong bond with the earth, observing nature, landscapes around influenced my understanding of the earth’s beauty and people’s connection to it. All things together are something whole, indivisible. Earth, sky, plants, fruits, mountains, rivers, men, women, day, night — all merge together and flow into each other. This process is infinite and harmonious. Humanity came from earth, lives on earth and will return to earth. Landscapes of earth are seen in the body’s curves. Growing up, I moved to live in big cities, my grandmother passed away, and I felt the loss of a spiritual connection with nature. To reconnect, I started to search the landscapes of the body in my photography.

Anna Laza/Anna Laza

Merit award. Monica Testa (Italy)


This project was born with the intention of keeping alive the memory of a small religious congregation: the “Ancelle della Provvidenza” for the salvation of the Child, of which they are now the last six sisters. I wanted to honor their lives of dedication to good, making them, at the same time, active protagonists. “Habito” is a tribute to wonderful people who can only be an example to imitate and to follow; it is the place of memories of those who have made their lives of the faith and also becomes the place to transmit these memories, a witness to be passed on to future generations, so as not to forget, and to continue to cultivate love for one’s neighbor, love for life.

Merit award. Prescott Lassman (United States)

‘Domesticated Animals’

The “Domesticated Animals” series explores issues of identity, repression, connection, conformity and the constructed self in modern American society. Follow Lassman on Instagram @lassman_lenswork.

Merit award. Sandra Klein (United States)

‘Noisy Brain’

“Creative Growth” is part of my series titled “Noisy Brain.” Using self-portraiture to examine the layers of my obsessions and anxieties, these constructed photographs provide insight into elements that affect my 21st-century brain.

Merit award. Andrea Torrei (Italy)

‘About Women’

Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, 2019

Merit award. Joan-Ramon Manchado (Spain)

‘At the Bus Stop’

“Passersby” is an ongoing project consisting of unposed portraits taken in public spaces in different cities around the world. A hybrid work that combines digital capture and cyanotype.

Merit award. Lisen Stibeck (Sweden)

‘Women in the flow’

“Women in the flow” is a tribute to all visible and invisible women in the world and their spoken and unspoken voices. Strong faces, hidden identities, subtle shadows and fragments reflecting memories of love, youth and beauty, a narrative of women between centuries and cultures, between ancient traditions and brand-new identities. These images were made from Polaroids and new and old film, both the positive and negative sides. Some are mixed with one part that is hand-painted. These pictures were taken in Sweden, Morocco and Iceland.

Merit award.Francis Willey (Canada)


Shima is a spoken word artist. The image was made using 35mm film. Verdant Luminul environment print, 2020. Shima goes by “Dwennimmen," the name of an ancient African Adinkra symbol, which means, strength, humility, learning and wisdom. All the artist’s images are 35mm film, traditional photography.

Merit award. Silvia Alessi (Italy)

Silvia Alessi/Silvia Alessi

Silvia Alessi/Silvia Alessi

‘Maze of Metamorphosis’

Silvia Alessi/Silvia Alessi

Makiko Sugawa is an artist, an illustrator, also of clothing. Because of a cancer, she lost her left leg completely, well above the knee. In fact, her prosthesis must be attached at her waist with a belt. She knows that clothes and fashion can have a big impact on how a woman feels about herself. So if a woman with a disability can be “stylish,” other girls in the same condition can follow her example.

Silvia Alessi/Silvia Alessi

Merit award. Julie Fowells (United States)


I’m terribly shy by nature, so a camera works for me as a kind of shield — a way to protect myself from the subject, as if the lens functions to insulate my insecurities. Only behind the safety of that glass do I feel comfortable focusing my gaze on another person. Somehow, holding a camera offers a way to legitimize my presence, allowing me to interact with people in a more intimate way. The images in this series present a view of each subject they hadn’t intended to reveal. By capturing an element of private uncertainty, a hint of elusiveness, they attempt to tell something about the subject through the trace of an expression or the tail end of a gesture, explorations into my conviction that the way one holds one’s body can reveal as much about a person as the representation of an unambiguous gaze.

Merit award. Aaron Deppe (Germany)

Rica Rosa

Rica Rosa

‘German Youth’

Rica Rosa

Three young women posing for the camera at Volkspark Hasenheide in Berlin.

Rica Rosa

Merit award.Marna Clarke (United States)

Marna Clarke/Marna Clarke

Marna Clarke/Marna Clarke

‘Growing Old’

Marna Clarke/Marna Clarke

This was the first image I made in 2010 when I decided to photograph myself. I wanted to see what I looked like, a photo that I could hold in my hand, not a fleeting image in a mirror. I tried several gestures with each hand and with both hands. When I saw the results, I knew this was the one that expressed for me what it feels like to be a woman, the strength, compassion, resilience, and softness that have sustained me through the years.

Marna Clarke/Marna Clarke

Merit award. Marsha Guggenheim (United States)

‘Without a Map’

How does one move through life with the scars of the past? When I was 10, my mother died unexpectedly of a heart attack. I couldn’t understand where she went or when she would return. Just as I began to comprehend this loss, my father died. I was without support from my family and community. I was lost. “Without a Map” reimagines this time that is deeply rooted in my memories. Visiting my childhood home, synagogue and family plot provided an entry into this personal retelling. Working with family photos, creating new images from my past and turning the camera on myself, I found the means to evoke, reinterpret and address unanswered questions born from early imprints that were buried long ago.

Merit award. Vicky Martin (United Kingdom)


“Ruby Red,” as part of the series “Selfhood,” depicts the search for a sense of independent identity crafted through outward appearance in relation to the female menstrual cycle. The visual contrast between the deep red and pure white of the image depicts the conflict between the traditional ideas of female sexuality perpetuated by society, and the need the woman feels to hide her vulnerability, shame, and pain behind that traditional trope of female beauty: the hair. However, the image of the messed cloud of hair symbolises the inner processes of the female, namely the menstrual cycle, that are perceived as grotesque and thereby need to be contained within a shell of purity and unblemished beauty. Although deviating from the unnuanced standard beauty norms, symbolised by the prim and proper red ribbon, women’s fertility and sexuality goes so far beyond what can be expressed through the eyes, on the face, or through physical appearance, and the inner, maybe even repressed, beauty of the female body should also be celebrated.

In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff members and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.

More from the Post

Perspective | ‘Between Girls’ follows a group from teenage years through womanhood, and a shared tragedy

Perspective | This photographer traveled up, down, back and forth across the U.S. looking for the American Dream

Perspective | These photos show us the commonalities, and the confounding nature, of life

The latest from The Washington Post


Photo editing and production by Kenneth Dickerman