Donna Ferrato’s Photos are Representing Women
By: Richard Huang
Her works are best known for revealing domestic violence while
some have shown to coincide with the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
Bruised eyes show her past, but they do not control her present life.
Donna Ferrato’s photographs portraits of women who are enduring
violence and struggle, letting their images speak louder than words.
At that time, Ferrato was on assignment for The Philadelphia
Inquirer, covering domestic violence, when “Rita'' became the cover
of the newspaper’s magazine. Rita eventually pressed charges and
divorced her husband. “In the end, she triumphed, which explains
the steadfast gaze and faint smile on her face. Her portrait is a study
in perseverance, not victimhood.”
“Over the last 50 years, I’ve been driven to photograph the wisdom
and courage of women: their mentality, their sexuality, their
emotionality, their spirituality,” Ferrato writes in the introduction for
her book, “Holy.” This is a collection of her photographs which was
published last year at Daniel Cooney Fine Artand and won the 2021
Lucie Photo Book Prize for Best Single-Author Independent
“HOLY is the most important book I have ever done,” she said in the
introduction. “It's about the unleashed power of women. What
women have gained over the last 50 years. The hard-won freedom
that women are losing. Why every woman's autonomy is
“I can't think of any photojournalist who has documented the
extremes of human passion more intensively and extensively than
Donna,” says Katherine Holden. “No one has better captured the
360º picture of walking this Earth as a female.”
Ferrato often comments on her pictures with handwritten captions.
In “Elisabeth’s Night of Horror,” Ferrato followed a wealthy New
Jersey couple and shot a photo as the husband slapped his wife in
front of Ferrato.
“This is every woman’s nightmare: when the man she thought she
knew becomes her enemy,” Ferrato annotated on the photo.
“Elizabeth is the rock of Gibraltar for the family.” The abused
woman eventually left the man with her children “to become a