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TitlePhotography for everyone : the cultural lives of cameras and consumers in early twentieth-century
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Total Pages231
Table of Contents
Title Page
List of Illustrations
1. A Retail Revolution: Male Shoppers and the Creation of the Modern Shop
2. Photography for Everyone: Women, Hobbyists, and Marketing Photography
3. Instructions for Life: How-to Literature and Hobby Photography
4. Democratizing Leisure: Camera Clubs and the Popularization of Photography
5. Making Middlebrow Photography: The Aesthetics and Craft of Amateur Photography
Appendix: Masaoka Photography Club Bylaws
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Stanford University Press Stanford, California
© 2015 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system
without the prior written permission of Stanford University Press.

Printed in the United States of America on acid-free, archival-quality paper Library of Congress
Cataloging-in-Publication Data Ross, Kerry, author.

Photography for everyone : the cultural lives of cameras and consumers in early twentieth-century Japan /
Kerry Ross.

pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-8047-9423-7 (cloth : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-0-8047-9564-7 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1.

Photography—Social aspects—Japan—History—20th century. 2. Japan—Social life and customs—1912–
1945. I. Title.
TR105.R67 2015

ISBN 978-0-8047-9563-0 (electronic) Typeset by Bruce Lundquist in 10/14.5 Sabon

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comprehensive, but they are still telling. From 1925 until 1932, the surveys show
that the number of clubs registered with the league increased regularly, from 283
to 873. Membership during the same period generally increased as well, though
numbers begin to decrease from 1931, starting with 13,000 members in 1926
(the first year that membership numbers were reported) and peaking at 19,408 in
1930. By 1935, the last year the league conducted the survey, the numbers had
dramatically dropped. The editors give no explanation for this decrease, though
it is likely to be a result of a decrease in the number of self-reporting clubs.

Democratizing Art Photography: Minimum Photography
The camera club served as a kind of classroom where the world of fine arts was
introduced through the photographic medium. In the context of the club,
members learned not only how to make artistic photographs but also how to
evaluate those images in light of prevailing aesthetic standards. High-art
exhibitions, even major annual events, often included the exemplary work of
club photographers, granting these humble practitioners, at least temporarily, the
status of “exhibited artist.” Camera clubs were thus a pivotal mechanism in
democratizing the fine arts, bringing opportunities to participate in the
production, display, and evaluation of photographic arts to Japan’s middle
classes.19 One of Japan’s earliest popular clubs was the Minimum Photography
Club (Minimamu Shashin Kai; hereafter MSK). In 1913, with the informal
backing of Konishi Roku, Akiyama Tetsusuke (1880–1944), a tireless champion
of popularizing the art of photography among ordinary people, launched MSK
for beginner photographers, more specifically for beginners who owned Konishi
Roku’s Minimum Idea camera (Figure 4.1).20
MSK was the first photography club organized around the ownership of a

particular product. However, others would soon follow since Konishi Roku was
also behind the formation of the Pearlette Photography League in 1925 for
owners of the company’s very popular vest-style camera, the Pearlette. Perhaps
the most famous product-based club was the Leica Club (Raika Kurabu),
founded in 1931 by owners of the coveted Leica-A camera produced by the
German manufacturer. Kimura Ihei was this club’s most illustrious member.21
While the Minimum Idea was not Konishi Roku’s first product aimed at the
unskilled amateur—that honor belongs to the Cherry Portable camera released in
1903—the Minimum Idea was designed specifically for the young, beginner
photographer. Perhaps it was with this particular kind of consumer in mind that

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Konishi Roku named their new camera, implying that the camera was extremely
easy to use and was all that was required to yield good results. At a price of ten
yen, the camera was stylish and roughly equivalent in cost to a bespoke suit
made from imported British fabric.22 The metal and black leather camera came
preloaded with six plates and a red leather carrying case. According to an
advertisement for the camera in January 1913, the same model was available for
one yen less if you opted for the wool carrying sack,23 certainly an attractive
option for low-level shop clerks and white-collar workers.
The announcement for the inauguration of MSK appeared in an advertisement

in September 1913 several months after the camera first arrived on the market.
The ad begins, “Seeking members for MSK: A club has been formed for
devotees [aiyōsha] of the Minimum Idea camera.”24 In addition to its focus on a
particular product, another fairly unique feature of the otherwise run-of-the-mill
MSK was that members could be considered active even if they lived outside
Tokyo and physically could not attend the monthly meetings. Typically a
member’s presence was desirable in order to participate in the monthly club
contest (hinpyō kai) in which participants reviewed and selected the best
photographs brought in each month by members. The postscript to the club’s
announcement, however, allowed for a modified kind of membership: “For
members who live outside Tokyo, please send in your prints the day before each
regular meeting.”25 Club membership, then, was not based on the shared
experience of association but rather on the shared ownership and use of the same
product. Membership without the requirements of attendance meant that the club
experience was not restricted to a particular locale. This notion of association—
shared consumer item, attendance not required—facilitated expansion quite
readily, and later it was the model for even larger and more anonymous camera

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Takahashi Yoshio, 25, 27
Takakuwa Katsuo, 150, 151, 187n13, 205n64; Arusu shashin nenkan, 185nn83, 85; on hobby photographer
(shumi shashinka) vs. art photographer (bijutsu shashinka), 159–60, 205n65; on hobby photography as
minshū geijutsu (folk/people’s art), 158–60; and Kamera, 158–59; on simplicity of photography, 45, 48;
Techniques of Film Photography (Fuirumu shashin jutsu), 69, 158, 205n54

Takashimaya Department Store, 42, 111
Takayanagi Mika, 184n78
Tamura Nishindō, 53
Tanabe Yoshio: on joys of photography, 170; Mitchaku no jitsigi, 170
Teikyū Club, 116–17, 118, 125
Third Domestic Products Competition in Photography, 146, 147
Tocqueville, Alexis de, 201n67
Tokugawa Keiki, 27
Tokugawa period, 27, 30, 34, 100, 114, 127, 180n38, 182n53
Tokyo: Asakusa, 102, 185n83; camera clubs in, 106, 107, 108, 112–13, 116, 122, 126, 199n36, 203n33;
camera shops in, 34, 36, 51–54, 185n83; Ginza, 11, 34, 52, 53, 140, 150, 186n100; and Great Kantō
Earthquake, 3, 27–28, 33; Kanda, 34, 37, 52, 53, 185n83; Kōjimachi, 34, 185n83; Kyōbashi, 34, 42,
185n83; Manseibashi railway station, 25; Marunouchi, 52; Meguro, 43, 44; Nihonbashi, 2, 10, 16, 21, 24,
25, 28, 33, 34, 37, 52, 108, 113, 150, 152, 180n28, 185n83; Shiba, 185n83; Shitaya, 185n83; shop
architecture in, 180n38; Yodobashi-chō, 21

Tokyo Bijutsu Gakkō, 150
Tokyo Broadcasting Company, 42
Tokyo prefecture, 185n83
Tokyo Shashin Kenkyū Kai, 155, 157
Tokyo Shayū Kai, 198n11
Tokyo Technical School of Photography, 113
Tominaga Yoshiko, 113
Torii Ryūzō, 173n8
Tōyō Shashin Kōgyō, 168
Trentmann, Frank, 175n25
Tsuchiura Nobuko, 112
Tsukiji Kanpan Seizō Keisha, 103
Tsurudono Teruko: “A Poem about Photography”, 57

Ueda Photography Club (Nagano prefecture), 104
Ueno Hikoma: Seimi kyoki hikkei, 195n33
used-camera shops, 2, 16, 34, 36–39, 51–54, 185n98, 186n100
Uzuki Club, 113, 116, 125, 126

Vest Pocket Kodak camera, 42, 94, 95, 151, 152, 153
voluntary associations, 12, 118, 197n6, 200n62, 201n67; and middle class, 100–101, 105–6, 118, 126–27.
See also camera clubs

Wall, E. J., 155
Weisenfeld, Gennifer, 175n19, 176n28
white-collar labor force, 31–32, 177n2, 183n69, 191nn6, 10, 196n59
Williamson, Judith: on family and photography, 62, 190nn41, 46
window shopping, 11, 181n42
Wong, Ka F., 173n8

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x-ray photography, 42, 74, 120

Yamada Yaeko, 58
Yamaguchi Shōkai Photo Enlargement Contest, 144, 145
Yamakawa Kikue, 58–59, 189n38
Yamanashi prefecture, 116
Yamazaki Yasuzō, 113
Yanagi Yōko, 193n20
Yanagita Yoshiko, 62
Yasui Nakaji, 138
Yasukōchi Ji’ichirō, 48, 81, 149; on darkrooms, 83, 86–87; How to Take Photographs Easily (Yasashii
shashin no utsushikata), 62, 75; “On Making a Simple Darkroom”, 86–87

YDC Photography Club, 118
Yokohama Dock Company, 118
Yomiuri Newspaper: “Handy News”, 18–19, 192n10
Yoshikawa Hayao, 58, 75–77, 194n29, 195n34
Yoshioka Kenkichi, 48; The ABC’s of Photographic Technique, 81–82; on enlarging, 88; on natural order
of photography, 81; on rational approach to photography, 81

Yotsuya, 37
Young, Louise, 181n45, 185n86
Yūtsuzusha, 103

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