Over the last 10 years, Anita Corbin has photographed 100 women who have made history in their respective male-dominated fields.
The collection of portraits, called First Women, captures female pioneers in business, the arts, the military, athletics, and politics, among other areas, leading up to the centennial of women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom.
“I think it’s important for us as women to collect and archive this time in our lives,” she said at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women International Summit in London on Tuesday, adding that the project is also about leaving a legacy for future generations and “showing girls and boys what is possible.”
Corbin, who has been a photographer her entire working life, conducted each portrait shoot on her own — no assistants or art directors.
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“Yes, it’s hard carrying your own gear up small stairs in the House of Parliament, but it keeps you fit,” she said, chuckling. And the trade-off is complete creative control and a one-on-one experience with each subject. “It’s an intimate set-up and I get to talk to everybody and draw out your essence of who you are as a woman.”
While the collection creates a snapshot of progress 100 years after women gained the right to vote, Corbin says the portraits are also meant to mark a place in each individual woman’s life.
“I enjoyed the experience,” said Dame Inga Beale who had her portrait taken by Corbin after becoming the first female CEO in Lloyd’s of London’s 328-year history. Taking the time to make the image helped her step back and reflect on her achievements.
The women included in the project range in age from 18 to 102. (“The 102-year-old was the first woman to get equal pay in the U.K. and she was an absolute diamond,” Corbin said.)
All 100 portraits will be on display for the first time at the Royal College of Art in London between July 20 and August 22.