Information and discussion on all aspects of British photographic history
Time: April 7, 2014 from 4:30pm to 6pm
Location: Amherst College (Fayerweather 117), Amherst, Massachusetts, USA
Event Type: lecture
Organized By: Five College Center for East Asian Studies (FCCEAS)
Latest Activity: Mar 28, 2014
Published in Tokyo in the summer of 1886, the pamphlet Shashin hitsuyô - shakyaku no kokoroe (The Essentials of Photography - Dos and Don'ts for the Photographic Customer) is one of the most unusual examples of photographic literature, not just in Japanese but apparently in any langauge. Written by Matsuzaki Shinji towards the end of a notable career as a photographer, and endorsed by an established member of Tokyo's contemporary literati, it was addressed to an exclusively Japanese readership with the declared intention of providing any would-be patron with a useful vade mecum to having his (or her) photograph taken. For the reader who inwardly digested Matsuzaki's advice, there was the promise that a future visit to a photographer's studio would no longer be an ordeal, but would offer instead a rewarding experience resulting in 'a picture worthy of the name of photograph'. For the hard-pressed studio photographer, Matsuzaki's text offered the corresponding benefit of a clientele that had been familiarised with current studio practice and disabused beforehand of any unrealistic expectations.
Matsuzaki's text offers a wide range of hints, from those universally applicable to any photography studio in the nineteenth century to those specific to Japan in the mid-Meiji period. The insight it offers into the latter is particularly useful in examining the extent to which a distinctively 'Japanese' approach to studio photography developed in the decades immediately following the establishment of the first Japanese studios in the early 1860s.
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