Celebrating Women Photographers

On international Women’s Day, we salute our winners of The Claire Aho Award for Women Photographers

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we caught up with our first two  winners of The Claire Aho Award for Women Photographers. This Award, which was introduced in 2021, in memory of Claire Aho, Finland’s greatest woman photographer. The Award aims to encourage and celebrate women photographers. 


Marina Spironetti won The Claire Aho Award in 2021 for her image, ‘Female Butchers of Panzano - Martina’


Marina, why did you enter the CAA?

A good deal of my personal work focuses on women-related stories. I had just finished working on an editorial story about women butchers in Tuscany and I thought that series would be perfect for the CAA. It was a story of empowerment that could inspire other women also – it wasn't just about being a woman and a butcher, but about being whatever you choose to be. It was the first year of the award and I did not know what the judges would be looking for but I said to myself I would give it a go. 


How did it feel to win the CAA?

Amazing, to say the least. Seeing my name associated with Claire Aho, was a huge honour. As always with the winning images of Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year, the quality of the finalist images was outstanding. It was great to be part of it.


What impact has it had on your career?

A massive one, I dare say. My image of Martina had a huge amount of media coverage – it went well beyond my expectations. Over the next few months, I was approached by photo editors of prestigious publications I had never worked for before, offering me work – freelancers like me know it's usually the other way round, so that was a fantastic opportunity. On a personal level, my encounter with Martina turned into a beautiful friendship, which is something I am also grateful for. Sometimes photography can create a strong bond between the person in front of the camera and the photographer behind it – well, that was the case.


Marguerite Oelofse won The Claire Aho Award in 2022 for her image, ‘At The Table’


Marguerite, why did you enter the CAA?

Towards the end part of January 2022, I was at home when the TV series Emily in Paris was airing. While watching one of the episodes, I heard Emily mention that she had hired a photographer who was a finalist for Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year. This caught my attention, and looked again at the episode to confirm what I had heard. Upon researching Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year online, I discovered that it was a legitimate competition and that the submission deadline was only ten days away. Despite the tight timeframe, I decided to take a chance and submit my work for The Claire Aho Award for Woman Photographers for 2022.


How did it feel to win the CAA?

As soon as I heard Monica Galetti called out my name, I couldn't help but laugh in disbelief. I had just been awarded the 2022 Claire Aho Award for Women Photographers, which was such a great honour to receive this wonderful achievement.


What impact has it had on your career?

As the first South African photographer to receive two accolades from the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year competition, I believe that this achievement has paved the way for other talented individuals from our country. I am extremely passionate about my work and take great pride in being part of a new generation of South African storytellers. With this recognition, my goal for the future is to mentor and encourage upcoming visionaries, so they too can showcase through their work can share the richness and diversity of our country's culture and knowledge through their work.


You can see all the previous finalists of The Claire Aho Award here.

Find out more about Claire’s life in our blog interview with her son, Jussi Brofeldt. Jussi is Chairman of Aho & Soldan Photo and Film Foundation and also a member of our distinguished judging panel for The Claire Aho Award.

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