Biography

Jane Evelyn Atwood was born in New York and has been living in France since 1971. Her work reflects a deep involvement with her subjects over long periods of time. Fascinated by people and by the idea of exclusion, she has managed to penetrate worlds that most of us do not know, or choose to ignore.

In 1976, Atwood bought her first camera and began taking pictures of a group of street prostitutes in Paris. It was partly on the strength of these photographs that she received the first W. Eugene Smith Award, in 1980, for another story she had just started: blind children. Prior to this, she had never published a photo.

In the ensuing years, Atwood has pursued a number of carefully chosen projects, among them an 18-month reportage of one regiment of the Foreign Legion, following the soldiers to Beirut and Chad; a four-and-a-half-month story on the first person with AIDS in France to allow himself to be photographed for publication in the press (Atwood stayed with him until his death); a four-year study of landmine victims that took her to Cambodia, Angola, Kosovo, Mozambique and Afghanistan; and a three-year color work in Haiti; always with the same personal and passionate approach.

Jane Evelyn Atwood limits her stories to those which truly compel her, devoting to each subject the time necessary (in some cases, years) to explore it in depth. In 1989 she started to photograph incarcerated women, eventually managing to gain access to some of the world's worst penitentiaries and jails, including death row. This monumental ten-year undertaking (encompassing forty prisons in nine countries of Europe and Eastern Europe, and the United States) remains the definitive photographic work on women in prison to date. It was published as a book in both English and French in 2000 and continues to be exhibited internationally.

Atwood’s particularity as a photographer lies in her in-depth approach, but she has also covered such news events as the Kobe earthquake of 1995, the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001, and the Democratic National Convention in 2004.

Jane Evelyn Atwood describes her method of work as "obsessive". She does not move on to a new subject until she feels she has completely understood the one at hand and her own relation to it, and until she believes that her pictures reflect this understanding.

Atwood is the author of ten books: Nächtlicher Alltag, on Parisian prostitutes (Mahnert-Lueg Verlag, Munich, 1980); Extérieur Nuit, on the blind (Actes Sud, 1998); Trop de Peines, Femmes en Prison (Albin Michel, 2000) and Too Much Time, Women in Prison (Phaidon Press Ltd., 2000), a ten-year project and the definitive photographic reference on female incarceration to date; Sentinelles de l’Ombre (Le Seuil, 2004), four years on the devastation of landmines in Cambodia, Mozambique, Angola, Kosovo, and Afghanistan; À Contre Coups (with Annette Lucas), fifteen portraits of French women who have survived abuse (Editions Xavier Barral, 2006); Haïti (Actes Sud, 2008); and Badate, the immigration phenomenon of Ukrainian women who become caregivers for Italian elderly (Silvana Editoriale, Milan, 2008). In 2010, Atwood joined the esteemed collection of Photo Poche Monographs with Jane Evelyn Atwood (#125) (Actes Sud, 2010). In 2011, Editions Xavier Barral published her first story about Parisian prostitutes in a brand new book, Rue Des Lombards.

Atwood’s photos have also been included in group projects ranging from the A Day In The Life series to Robert Delpire's Pauvres de Nous (Photo Poche Société, Actes Sud, 1996). She has published in, and worked for, LIFE Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Stern, Géo, Paris Match, The Independent, Telegraph, Libération, VSD, Marie-Claire and Elle, among others. In addition, she has worked on assignment for international humanitarian organisations, institutions, government ministries and museums.  

Images by Jane Evelyn Atwood appear in numerous pubic and private collections and have been shown worldwide in solo as well as group exhibitions. She is represented in France by the gallery IN CAMERA, and, for editorial purposes, VU (France) and Contact Press Images (USA).

Atwood is the recipient of many prestigious international awards, including the first W. Eugene Smith Award, 1980; a World Press Foundation Prize, Amsterdam, 1987; the Grand Prix Paris Match du Photojournalisme and the Grand Prix du Portfolio de la Société Civile des Auteurs Multimédia (SCAM), 1990; the Ernst Haas Award, 1994; the Oskar Barnack Prize, Leica Camera, 1997; and an Alfred Eisenstaedt Award, 1998. En 2005, she was given the Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters from Bard College,USA, thus joining a company of such previous laureates as Edward Saïd, Isaac Bashevis Singer and E.L. Doctorow.

In 2012, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, France, produced Atwood’s first retrospective (Jane Evelyn Atwood, Photographies, 1976–2010). In 2013-2014 this retrospective was shown at the Botanique, Brussels, Belgium.


BOOKS

1980
Nächtlicher Alltag (Daily Nightlife)
- Mahnert Lueg Verlag, Munich, Germany.
1981
Dialogues de Nuit
- Éditions Jean-Jacques Pauvert/Ramsay, Paris, France.
1986
Légionnaires
- Éditions Hologramme, Neuilly, France.
1998
Extérieur Nuit
- Photo Poche Société, Actes Sud, Arles, France.
2000
Too Much Time, Women in Prison
- Phaidon Press, Ltd., London, England.
Trop de Peines, Femmes en Prison - Éditions Albin Michel, Paris, France.
2004
Sentinelles de l’ombre
- Éditions Le Seuil, Paris, France.
2006
À Contre Coups
- Éditions Xavier Barral, Paris, France.
2008
Haïti
- Actes Sud, Arles, France.
Badate - Silvana Editoriale, Milan, Italy.
2010
Jane Evelyn Atwood,
Photo Poche (#125) - Actes Sud, Arles, France.
(2012, second edition)

2011
Rue des Lombards
- Éditions Xavier Barral, Paris, France.

AWARDS, GRANTS, PRIZES

1980
First W. Eugene Smith Grant.
1983
FIACRE Grant /Ministry of Culture, Paris, France.
1988
FIACRE Grant /Ministry of Culture, Paris, France.
1990
Grand Prix Paris Match du Photojournalisme -"A Women ’ s Prison in the USSR".
1994
Erna and Victor Hasselblad Foundation Grant.
Ernst Haas Award, Maine Photographic Workshops, USA.
1996
Grand Prix Portfolio SCAM (Société Civile des Auteurs Multimédia).
Marc Flament Prize, Ministry of Defense - "My Heroes, The Firemen".
1997
Oskar Barnack Award, Leica Camera.
1998
Alfred Eisenstaedt Award, Columbia University / LIFE Magazine.
2000
France Info Radio Prize for book, "Trop de Peines, femmes en prison."
2003
Erna and Victor Hasselblad Foundation Grant.
2005
Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters, Bard College, New York, USA.
2009
Cushing Academy Distinguished Alumna Award, Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, MA, USA.
2013
Trophée d’Honneur presented by the SAIF (Society of Visuel Arts and Still Photo Authors), France.