New Women of Japan Photos

Laurie says:

We just put up a new group of Women of Japan photos and I thought I’d talk about them a bit. It’s always hard for me to talk about my work but my spring resolution is to do it more.

Baba with birds

Baba with bicycles

I took both of these photos in Kyoto in the winter. Baba is a student at Kyoto Seika University, an arts college. My friend Becky Jennison is one of her teachers. This was taken in a park by the river. The light was pearl-like and lovely, the traditional perfect light for portraits. Getting the birds right with the cloud formations as they were flying back and forth was hard. The delicacy of the sky was crucial in the printing. The second photo was taken on our way back, at a mall near the train station. What caught me about the background were the lights and the way they related to the structure. Baba still remains the center of the photo.

Chibikko with her car

Chibikko with books

Chibikko is also a student at Kyoto Seika. Her car is really special in her life. I was hoping to get a photo with the car but wasn’t sure if it would work as art. It really did. I particularly like the contrast between the very urban forms in the parking lot and the classically beautiful Japanese mountain in the background. And again, I was lucky to get a soft light. The second photo was taken in her apartment., which is very dense (like most student apartments in Japan). This is really a classic “environmental portrait,” with so much of who she is reflected in her home.

Junko Fukuzawa

Fukuzawa Junko runs a feminist activist center. We’ve known each other for a long time and she’s been one of the primary supporters of Women of Japan. She’s a vivid and brilliant woman; catching her in motion turned out to be the best way to portray her. This is the first time I’ve done an image of “a body in motion” and when I was working on it in the darkroom, I wasn’t sure abut it until I saw the finished print.

Ryoko Suzuki

Suzuki Ryoko is an artist who lives in Sapporo in Hokkaido. I stayed with her family when I was in Hokkaido and she was extremely helpful to me. This was taken in her living room and she feels that I truly “captured ” her. When I was printing this, it was important that the textures of light on the rug, furniture and on her dress were beautiful and striking without distracting from her face or the portrait quality of the work.

Okuda on train

Okuda in train station

Yoko Okuda was a student when I photographed her. She felt that the image of her life that she wanted was her riding the train (she spent a lot of time on this train). We rode the train from Kyoto to Osaka and back, which took several hours. Even in off hours, the trains were still pretty full. Fortunately Japanese people are very polite to photographers. The first picture above was printed a couple of years ago. I really liked it, even though it has a quality of abstraction that is not typical of my work. I wanted the second one for a completely different feeling of the same photographic experience.

women, Japan, Women of Japan, photography, feminism, art, Body Impolitic

3 thoughts on “New Women of Japan Photos

  1. I suppose it’s inevitable that the photograph of Ryoko Suzuki reminds me of the original “Debbie with Stripes” photograph that is the signature/cover photo for Women en Large.

    All are excellent, of course; I think my favorite is Yoko Okuda on the station bench.

  2. – Sorry to be so long in commenting. I’m working on digital prints of Women of Japan for the art show at Wiscon (world feminist science fiction convention) in Madison, Wisconsin over Memorial weekend and doing my aesthetic curator work for the first solo show of Tee’s “Scars” project at SomARTt Cultural Center here in San Francisco in early June. All the info on this should be up real soon in “Latest News” and Calendar”. I just sent it to our web guy tonight.

    Tonight feeling like breathing is taking time out.



    Thank you!! I really appreciated your comment.


    The commonality is, of course, the slanting beams of light. I hope you can see the original of the Okuda picture at some point. There’s a lot of subtle details that aren’t shown on the web.

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