Book launch May 21. 2020 at 18:00h at the Bronx Documentary Center Annex Gallery, 614 Courtlandt Ave, The Bronx, NY 10451,

Photographs and notes by Charlotte Schmitz; Photo editor Ilgin Deniz Akseloğlu; Design: Valentina Abenavoli; Cover Design: João Linneu


La Puente

La Puente is the winner of the 2019 FotoEvidence W Award, given to a woman photographer for a personal project. The project was selected to be published as a book from over 50 entries by an international jury of women photogrpahers and photo editers. The stunning photographs in La Puente were made in a large brothel in Ecuador where over 150 women work.

The photos were created in collaboration with the women, who chose their own poses and later painted with nail polish on the Polaroids. The nail polish was initially used to provide anonymity but quickly developed into a creative instrument, a way for the women to beautify the world within the brothel. Not only their selected poses, but also the use of nail polish tell about the women’s inner and outer perceptions. The images also raise questions about the sexualized picture of women in our societies. The process of working with Polaroids and nail polish gave the women control to personalize their own photos, breaking down the power structures in the artistic production itself by including the women in the creative sphere.

Each book cover is painted by the photographer with nail polish and becomes a unique piece. In book signings the colors and nails can be chosen individually by the acquirer. The hard cover feels very soft due to its foam under the carefully chosen white gold metallic paper. Titles and names on the cover are Charlotte Schmitz’ personal handwriting, connecting to her notes inside the book, which once were handwritten in La Puente, and now are accompanying the photographs throughout the book.

The edges of the 500 books were painted personally by the photographer with nail polish throughout several days at the printshop.

"When I first heard of La Puente, I was 18 years old and living in Machala, banana plantations, a bridge, a compound on the right side, a dusty road leading to it, and suddenly a traffic jam. Surprised, I asked surprised for its reason, here outside of the city. "It’s our brothel, the biggest in the province,” answered my male friends laughing. Ever since, I was wondering how the world within the brothel would be. Ten years later, I visited La Puente for the first time. Since then, hundreds of Polaroids, interviews and videos were made. I was given bed sheets by the women, which became part of the work and exhibitions. They are the only personal items in the rooms of La Puente, breaking its monotony."

The book is available at the FotoEvidence bookstore on line.

Book Details:

ISBN: 13: 978-1-7324711-4-6
98 Polaroid photographs; 132 pages
Size: 17x2 inches

LR Charlotte Schmitz portraits

Photo: Johanna-Maria Fritz

About Charlotte Schmitz:

Charlotte Schmitz has developed very consistent and original work about the issues that affect her as a young contemporary woman. She is building a very interesting narrative using compelling images to convey a deliberately personal approach. She has given proof of her courage in experimenting with new languages that challenge the traditional documentary perspective. Her work brings a breath of fresh air to the classic way of exposing contemporary issues.

– Cristina de Middel Puch

Charlotte Schmitz studied photojournalism and documentary photography at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hanover. She is working for several german and international media outlets and is a member of Agence Le Journal. Charlotte speaks six languages, including Spanish and Turkish.


The Award

FotoEvidence Women is a new chapter of FotoEvidence Press, a space for free expression, devoted to engaged women photographers who want to tell their stories in the form of a photo book. Through their lenses women can shape the world differently and we want to give them this chance.

During the past nine years, FotoEvidence has published 22 books to draw attention to human rights violations, oppression and assaults on human dignity wherever they may occur. At this moment, women around the world are seeking equal rights and equal opportunity. FotoEvidence Women will support this global movement.

The FotoEvidence W Award for Personal Story will be granted by a selection committee to one woman whose work merits a book. The hardbound book will be published by FotoEvidence. Two other photographers will receive honorable mentions.

Once a year, a selection committee will review the applications and select a winning project. The selected work will be published as a hardbound photo book by FotoEvidence.


The publication of the book La Puente was made possible with the support of The VII Academy, VII Foundation, the Grodzins Fund and individual contributors:


The strategy of the VII Academy is to promote, teach and foster high quality international journalism by upskilling emerging professionals and students on scholarship from the majority world and under represented communities in G20 countries in media practice, visual journalism, narrative, ethics, business and entrepreneurship, thereby enabling in the long term a culture whereby the information narrative is democratised.

The VII Foundation is an independent, charitable, media and education non-profit organization. It was founded by Ron Haviv and Gary Knight in 2001 when they recognized that media funding for long term projects was diminishing. In order to continue to produce work that addressed complex social, economic and human rights issues they started the Foundation as an independent non-profit structure to secure support for continuing documentary practice and education.

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