About Gulnara

Self-portrait in a mirror. Times Square, New York City.

Self-portrait in a mirror. Times Square, New York City.

Gulnara is a fine art and street photographer based in New York City and the founder of @WomenStreetPhotographers Instagram feed and the traveling exhibition. She holds a certificate in fine art from the International Center of Photography in New York City and a diploma from Moscow Polytech College in general photography. In her native Russia she was a photography teacher and specialized in documentary and conceptual photography. Before moving to New York City in 1992, Gulnara was the only female fine art photographer in the Autonomous Republic of Bashkortostan, where she was born, in Ufa, the capital. 

Gulnara continued with fine art and documentary photography after moving to New York City. She had planned to be in Russia on September 11, 2001 to photograph a family she was chronicling as part of an ongoing personal project. Instead, she was nearly buried alive in the ash and debris from the fall of the World Trade Center while documenting the events of the day as a staff photographer for the Associated Press. Gulnara received national and international awards for her photographs from 9/11, including first prize in the most prestigious World Press Photo competition, The New York Press Club, and she was named Interphoto Photographer of the Year.

In 2012 while on assignment in China she became more serious about street photography. A subsequent trip to Cuba increased her interest in the human condition. As a result, she was compelled to document the everyday life of people and she has traveled to Brazil, Myanmar, Argentina, Mexico and Russia. When Gulnara photographs her subjects she makes no secret of her intentions. Without speaking the language she blends into the environment and patiently waits for the moment to unfold. Her resulting photographs feel real and effortless. 

Gulnara began hand coloring her photographs in 1990, after seeing a Gilbert & George exhibition in Moscow. Their distinctive method of photography gave her permission to express what was hidden in her pictures about life in the Soviet Union. Her work explored issues including neglected elderly, single mothers, air pollution, and AIDS. Gulnara was one of the first artists in the Soviet Union to mix photography, oil painting and collage. 

In 2014 Gulnara attended Mary Ellen Mark's workshop who later wrote to her, "...someone as talented as you really should pursue a serious personal body of work.”  She began to work on a new series, exploring her childhood and family members she never knew anything about. In the ongoing series "Lost Family", she leave parts of the black and white photographs untouched to represent the “present" life. Using color, and without any attempt at photo realism, she uses oil paints to show a “fantasy, dream like life". By creating a collage using her found family and childhood photographs, Gulnara connects the present and the past to covey an imagined story.

Gulnara's work is a part of major collections at the Museum of the City of New York, The New York Public Library, New York Historical Society, the Newseum, The Akron Museum, 9/11 Memorial Museum, and Houston Museum of Fine Arts. Her photographs are in the private collections of Elton John, Steven Kasher, Timothy Baum, and Henry Buhl. 

Speaker at the “Focus on the story” festival, Washington DC, USA

Speaker at Foundation/Fearless Conference

Speaker at Boda F Mexico, Queretaro, Mexico

Speaker at Total Soul, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Speaker at Real Life conference, Canmore, Canada

Speaker at FDF Argentina, Buenos Aries, Argentina

Foundation Workshop mentor

Taught Workshops and Master classes in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Russia, United States of America and Netherlands

Judged numerous competitions

Awards —

~PH Museum, 2018 Women Photographers Grant, Finalist

~MIFA Awards, 2d place

~IPA awards, 3d place

~World Press Photo Competition
First Prize: People in the News
Amsterdam, Netherlands
~New York Press Club Journalism Awards
First Prize:”9/11″ Spot News Photography
New York, New York
~Associated Press Managing Editors Photo Competition
President’s Award
New York, New York
~Interfoto, Russia Press Photo Competition
Picture of the Year
Moscow, Russia
~National Headliner Awards
Third Place: Spot News Photography
Atlantic City, New Jersey
~Association for Women in Communications Clarion Award
First Place: Press Photography Photo Series (Hard News)
New York, New York
~Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar Contest
Second Place: New War, Singles
Honorable Mention: New War, Singles
Third Place: New War, Multiple
Atlanta, Georgia

Exhibitions —

~History Museum of the City of Salavat, Bashkortostan

~Photo Vogue Festival, group show

~ Life in Photographs, Retrospective solo show, Bashkir National Museum, Ufa, Bashkortostan

~ Lost Family, solo show, Alexis Grady Gallery, New York, NY

~ Songzhuang International Photo Biennale, Museum of Czech China Contemporary Museum, Songzhuang, Beijing, China

~Photo Independent, Los Angeles, CA

~Timescapes, The Museum of the City of New York, part of multimedia installation
~Global Terrorism, United Nations, New York, New York, group show
~Orlando Gallery of Photography, Orlando, Florida, one-person show
Life of the City, Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York, group show
~9/11 One Year anniversary, United Nations, New York, New York
~A Month of remembrance: Photographs Commemorating 9/11, Akron Art Museum, group show
~Here is New York-A Democracy Of Photographs
~The Rencontres D’Arles, Arles, France
~Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany
~Exit Art Gallery, New York, Photo/Soho benefit auction

~Steven Kasher Gallery, New York, one-person show

~G.Ray Hawkins Gallery, Santa Monica, group show

~Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, New York, group show

~Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans, group show

~Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York Viscomm’94

~Sea Cliff Gallery, Sea Cliff, New York, one-person show

~Photo West’94, Moscone Center, San Francisco

~University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, Photo/Foto: Found on the Volga

~Noho Gallery, New York, ICP General Studies exebition

~Noho Gallery, New York, New York at Night

~Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, Photo 93

~Biblio’s Gallery, New York, one-person show

~Photo/Foto: Found on the Volga, traveling exhibition of 14 photographers

~Rhode Island School of Design, Hampshire College, San Francisco Camerawork

~Lenin Museum, Ufa, Russia, one-woman retrospective exhibition

~Ryazan, Russia, Women in Photography, international exhibition

~Los Angeles Photography Center, international exhibition

~Ryazan, Russia, Women in Photography, Soviet-American exhibition

~Yeletz, Russia, Photo Plein Air, international exhibition

~Technicum Gallery, Moscow, Russia, one-person show

~Palace of Culture, Ufa, Russia, Bashkiria Photographers