Rachel Jessen

Rachel Jessen, is a documentary photographer and experimental filmmaker based in Durham, NC. Born and raised in the great state of Iowa, she holds a B.A. from the University of Iowa in Spanish and Linguistics with a TEFL emphasis, and an MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts from Duke University, with a Certificate in College Teaching. Before coming to the South, Rachel worked as a photojournalist and assistant to documentary photographer Danny Wilcox Frazier. She currently is working on personal projects and as an assistant editor for the Cumberland Gap Folklife Project, and will serve as the 2018-19 William G. Gedney intern at Duke University’s Rubenstein Library Archive of Documentary Arts. Rachel was selected to participate in the XXXI edition of the Eddie Adams Workshop this year.


Girl Wrestle, is a visual exploration of girls’ youth wrestling in North Carolina. Images captured during club practices and team tournaments are combined with portraits create a holistic view of distinct individuals united in their love of this sport.

With these images I investigate questions of gender, embodiment, identity, and power. It is far too often that the experiences of young women and girls are trivialized and flattened into a single, homogenous story—a story that is not always heard or believed or respected. This project not only highlights the growing popularity of wrestling among women and girls, but also complicates the notion of what it is to be a young girl, demonstrating the nuance of a single person’s experience. This work also questions larger power structures and the ways in which girls have been socially conditioned to behave and how they ought to be.

To view more of Rachel Jessen’s work please visit her website.