Information and discussion on all aspects of British photographic history
Time: May 12, 2016 from 6pm to 8pm
Street: Luisenstrasse 39
City/Town: 10117 Berlin
Website or Map: https://www.google.com/maps/p…
Event Type: lecture
Organized By: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin/ Mori-Ôgai-Gedenkstätte
Latest Activity: Apr 30, 2016
Although the history of photography in Japan has been the subject of much recent scholarly attention, one aspect of the diffusion of the medium during the Bakumatsu and Meiji eras which remains overlooked is the way in which it depicted children, and by extension childhood.
For most of the nineteenth century, photographing children was a difficult and often unwelcome task for most photographers, with the additional supervision required for younger sitters compounded by the limitations of early photographic technology, and in particular the lengthy exposure times involved. It was only in the 1890s, when the adoption of the dryplate process brought instantaneous photography within the reach of Japanese photographers, that children became a regular staple of commercial photography.
The difficulties which attended the photographing of children make the earliest photographic depictions of childhood in Japan all the more interesting. There is a natural tendency in the history of photography to search for ‘firsts’, and a good place to begin an investigation into the relationship between photography and childhood in nineteenth-century Japan would be by asking when the first likeness of a child was taken by a photographer in Japan. However, this apparently simple question raises more complex questions. Who were the first children to be photographed? Why were they photographed? How did photographers – both Japanese and non-Japanese - approach the subjects of children and childhood in Bakumatsu- and Meiji-era Japan and what does this tell us about wider societal attitudes at this time? I hope to answer some of these questions in this talk.
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