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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

responsible adult.”


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