Organized Panel Session
Recent scholarship has uncovered new histories of women’s participation in photography beginning with its introduction to Japan circa 1848. Yet there remains a tendency in the history of Japanese photography to think of women’s camera work as separate: its production either driven by gendered motivations or its participation limited by supposed social, physical, and technical limitations that women face. This two-part panel seeks to question this narrative, bringing to light women who were involved in the practice of photography, while addressing the practices of writing history and art history that have contributed to the continued denial of women’s lived experiences with photography.
This panel suggests that interest in women in the photographic profession is a means to re-think and re-write the history of photography to ask how it changes when photographic narratives are approached from the perspective of the women in the field. The following papers recover the history of these women by examining historical spaces of professional associations, historiography, and photo-criticism. From the Ladies Camera Club of the 1930s, to postwar “nude shooting sessions,” and the critical and curatorial breakthroughs of women in the latter half of the century, this panel seeks to better understand the gendering of the practice of photography. In the end, this panel asks why we (as a field) continue to see women professional photographers as producing work for reasons that are necessarily “other” from male counterparts.