What is Photos de Femmes?

Photos de Femmes is a photo festival organized by Renée Jacobs and Wendy Hicks focusing on promoting powerful images of women. Their exhibits and contests are designed to celebrate intelligence, beauty, sensuality, freedom, diversity and all things that promote women.

 Why “Photos de Femmes?” What was the genesis of that platform, and how did you decide who were going to be your first artists? Moving forward how will the selection process be decided? Do you and Wendy have a list of desired artists you want to include?

 Throughout my career, I’ve always had to go through male gatekeepers who dictate what images of women are acceptable. It occurred to me that it was absurd to have men telling me what was acceptable or not acceptable in a female nude. I actually had one well known photographer tell me that he thought that I should stop taking so many photos of women with their chins up—it displayed arrogance. Women were gazing into the camera. Women were unapologetically expressing their desires and longing. I’ve had men tell me my work is too erotic. I’ve been told my work is not erotic enough. I reject the idea that these gatekeepers should have the power to tell me and other women what is acceptable in expressing the wide spectrum of female power and desire. I’m a huge proponent of women presenting themselves as they want to be presented and that—at our best—photographers reflect that out to the world. If women want to show themselves erotically, fantastic. If women want to wear certain things or do certain things, fantastic. The motto for the festival is, “Women can’t be heard if we can’t be seen.” Our first exhibit—womenSEEwomen- just finished a run (September 29-November 4) at the national Centro Português de Fotografia in Porto as part of the Porto Photo Fest.  I selected 8 other female photographers whose photographs of women I admire to join me. The key to me is positively reflecting the authentic voices of the women in the photos and I feel both men and women can do that. We’ll be doing calls for entries for upcoming exhibits so the best way people can participate is to sign up for our newsletter at www.photosdefemmes.org.

 It seems as though the artists involved, initially, cover a wide range of fine art photography. Was that your initial hope?

 We pulled together our first exhibit in about 48 hours and I pulled together photographers who range from abstract and conceptual work to pure photojournalism. Going forward, we are going to open up our movable festivals to all photographers—male, female, non-binary, every genre of person and photography.

 Your premier exhibit from “Photos de Femmes,” is womenSEEwomen. Can you tell us more about the exhibit and when and where will it open.

 As I mentioned, womenSEEwomen came together in 2 days after we unexpectedly were able to connect with the amazing Anna Gunn, the director of the Porto Photo Fest. She had a space at the prestigious national Centro Português de Fotografia, which is a magnificent historic old prison that had been converted to a photo museum based on the fact that they had an amazing collection of old cameras from photographing the inmates! We had really just finished putting up our website, so I reached out to 8 female photographers whose work I admired, asked them to send me some images and we got the exhibit together and  mounted in the span of about a week. The exhibit received a wonderful write up at L’Oeil de la Photographie and will for, the basis for traveling exhibits as we go forward. It’s open in Porto until November 4.

 What’s next?

Now it’s on to planning our next venues and acquiring sponsors. We’ve got some meetings with some fabulous chateaux around France and we’ll be building out festivals all over with the exhibits as the keystones but with discussions, presentations, workshops etc. I’ve got a bunch of work on exhibit and I’ll be doing book signings at Paris Photo and fotofever. I’ll be jurying the Photographic Nude 2019 for LightBoxGallery in Oregon. We’ll start planning our summer workshops soon and we also make our house, Maison des Rêves available as a B&B when we’re not otherwise running around like crazy. We absolutely love sharing our magnificent area - it’s an outdoor lovers paradise—kayaking, biking, soaring mountains, beautiful rivers and waterfalls. www.maisondesreves-france.com

I’m also working on pulling together books of my Italy work, Polaroid work and a very secret, very erotic project. I need to find the best publisher for the projects, which are at the same time very similar in that they represent my views of women being their authentic selves and very different in that the styles of photography are a bit diverse.