Abigail Heyman (August 1, 1942 – August 28, 2013) was an American photographer and feminist. Her 1974 book Growing Up Female became an important text for the feminist movement.
After becoming one of the first women to join Magnum Photos, she went on to produce two more books: Butcher, Baker, Cabinetmaker, a book for girls about women at work, and Dreams & Schemes, which took a journalistic approach to wedding photography. Throughout her career she published photo essays about subjects, especially those related to women’s lives, that had been considered too personal or trivial for photojournalism.
In 1981, Heyman co-founded Archive Pictures Inc., an international documentary photographers’ cooperative agency in New York City, along with Mark Godfrey, Charles Harbutt, Joan Liftin, and Mary Ellen Mark. In the 1990s, Heyman joined the International Center of Photography in Manhattan as director of the documentary and photojournalism department.
Though her work is most identified with the feminist movement, as Liftin told the New York Times, “as a feminist, she was not so much about marching. She took pictures that showed what the marching was about.”
Being a woman influenced my ideas about what I wanted to photograph. My interest in women’s issues, in family issues, in social relationships came out of my experience of growing up as a female.
Women flirting to gain access are called “using their sexuality to gain greater access,” while men flirting to get access are called “charming.” I think it was an early feeling I had that I wanted to avoid accusation so badly that I never learned how to flirt or be charming.
Exhibition: Eve Arnold, Abigail Heyman & Susan Meiselas – Unretouched Women at Espace Van Gogh, Arles as part of Les Rencontres Internationales de la photographie d’Arles 2019 (Monday 1 July to Sunday 22 September 2019).