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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Basic intro to Japanese photography, easy to read4 Oct. 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Being written by an academic, you might think this book might be too scholarly or cerebral, but I'm delighted to report that it is obviously written for the layman. It is very easy reading and touches base with most people and things as it traces the history of photography in Japan intertwined with the country's social history from the 1850s to the present day.
The author mentions the most important Japanese photographers, whether they are from the Meiji Period or the present day. The book is also heavily illustrated in color, making it very interesting to thumb through.
Thus, it is a great introduction to Japanese photography for everyone. The book has an Introduction, and then only three chapters. Chapter One centers on people and portraits, Chapter 2 focuses on wartime photography, and Chapter 3 is about cityscapes and street photos. It's not a massive, intimidating book. You can probably read it in a few hours.
In the Introduction, the author asks the basic question, "What is Japanese photography?" This is a question I've wrestled with myself before. I pretty much define it as photography created by a Japanese national and/or images of Japan and the Japanese. Of course, there are inherent flaws with this definition, but I have been using it as a basic guideline
Instead of trying to define what Japanese photography is, the author has pursued to link photography in Japan with Japan's social history. She shows how Japanese photography is distinctive through its reflection of Japan's social history. This makes it a very interesting read as you learn about both Japanese photography history and Japanese social history.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Shigeo Gocho29 Nov. 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I agree that this is a good introduction to Japanese photography for those who have no knowledge on the subject, despite a few minor errors.
About Shigeo Gocho's "Familiar Street Scenes," the author says: "Shot from eye level and below (many seem to be chest- or waist-high views) without using the viewfinder. . . "(pp.142-143) This remark is strange given that in the endnote she refers to the exhibition catalogue of Gocho's 2003 solo-exhibition in which the curator suggests that because of the illness Gocho suffered from in his childhood he "was smaller than other adults. His height was in the mid-140 cms." Then, her following remark, "Because of the technique used, the subjects rarely meets the gaze of the photographer, and the resulting images feel somewhat surreptitious" does not really make sense.