'Finding Freedom in The Water' and other projects that won the 2021 Leica Women Foto Project

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 Finding Freedom in The Water. (Anna Boyiazis)
Finding Freedom in The Water. (Anna Boyiazis)
  • In 2019 camera company Leica established the Leica Women Foto Project. 
  • Aimed at empowering femme photographers, the award gives three women a cash prize, mentorship and a camera. 
  • This year’s recipients are Matika Wilbur, Karen Zusman, and Anna Boyiazis.


On 8 March 2021, camera Leica announced the recipients of its second, annual Leica Women Foto Project Award. Founded in 1869 by Ernst Leitz, Leica is a German company that manufactures cameras, lenses, binoculars, rifle scopes, microscopes and ophthalmic lenses. 

In 2019 the company established the Leica Women Foto Project as a way of committing to a story telling that is not only diverse, but uses photography to empower the femme point of view. Through this project women in photography are encouraged to reframe how we see, think and express our visual narratives. 

For 2021, the prize was awarded to Matika Wilbur, Karen Zusman, and Anna Boyiazis. Each of them will receive a $10 000 cash prize, a high  quality Leica Q2 camera as well as a mentorship to complete their photographic projects. Along with the award, prize and mentorship, the recipients have the opportunity to participate in Leica Gallery exhibitions and Leica Akademie workshops.


Project 562: Pandemic Portraits and Stories from N
Project 562: Pandemic Portraits and Stories from Native Youth. (Matika Wilbur)
Project 562: Pandemic Portraits and Stories from N
Project 562: Pandemic Portraits and Stories from Native Youth. (Matika Wilbur)
Project 562: Pandemic Portraits and Stories from N
Project 562: Pandemic Portraits and Stories from Native Youth. (Matika Wilbur)

Matika Wilbur

She is a member of Tulalip & Swinomish Pacific Northwest and a social documentarian working in the medium of photography. Her project is a visual essay about tribal sovereignties in the United States. As a part of the project, Wilbur visited more than 400 tribes in 50 states by car, plan, train, boat, horseback and sometimes by foot. She says the idea to do so came from her grandmother who in a dream asked her to photograph their people. Wilbur’s goal is to “change the way we see Native America.”


The Super Power of Me (Karen Zusman)
The Super Power of Me (Karen Zusman)
The Super Power of Me (Karen Zusman)
The Super Power of Me (Karen Zusman)
The Super Power of Me (Karen Zusman)
The Super Power of Me (Karen Zusman)

Karen Zusman

This New York-based photographer received the award for her series The Super Power of Me. created out of her involvement with a Black Lives Matter cycling protest group, the series revolves around children of colour in New York City. Describing the series, she says it, “Shows who they are before the world tells them otherwise.” Her goal is to use the project to turn the series into a large outdoor exhibition with workshops for children living in the city. 


 Finding Freedom in The Water. (Anna Boyiazis)
Finding Freedom in The Water. (Anna Boyiazis)
 Finding Freedom in The Water. (Anna Boyiazis)
Finding Freedom in The Water. (Anna Boyiazis)
 Finding Freedom in The Water. (Anna Boyiazis)
Finding Freedom in The Water. (Anna Boyiazis)

Anna Boyiazis

This documentary photographer is based between South California and East Africa. She has been working on her series Finding Freedom in The Water since 2016. Here she follows women and girls in Zanzibar as they learn how to swim. Describing the project and journey, Boyiazis says it is “an  act of emancipation in an ultraconservative region where such an act conflicts with patriarchal, religious norms.” In winning this award, Boyziazis has an opportunity to return to Zanzibar to document her subjects in their everyday.

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