Twice Told Tuesday
Twice Told Tuesday is a new feature on Shades Of The Departed. Each Tuesday a photography related article will be reprinted from my collection of old photography books and magazines.
In honor of Women's History Month, I am reprinting an article told 92 years ago in The Amateur Photographer's Weekly, February 4, 1916. The Local Manipulation column does a tongue in cheek discussion of why women should take up photography. The cartoons have been added from The Amateur Photographer's Weekly of June 16, 1916.
Women should take up photography more generally than they do, it is an ideal avocation for them in many respects. And it would help to fill up their time. The great trouble with women nowadays is that they don't have anything to do. Taking care of babies and cooking meals and sewing on buttons are hardly enough to keep an able-bodied woman out of mischief and when an able-bodied woman does get into mischief, look out for trouble. I know of nothing that should more properly inspire wholesome dread.
But, of course, there are a great many women who don't even have cooking and babies with which to amuse themselves and ward off the dangers and dissipations of idleness. Why don't more of them buy cameras and go after the hot stuff that the men photographers have been pulling down these many years? They could reach it lots of times, when the men can't. There's a reason.
For one thing, a woman has nerve, lots of it. She will order a set of dishes C.O.D., and send it back to the store after she has given a dinner party to her friends. No need to to on. You all know how mjuch nerve a woman has, It would help her a lot in photography. She wouldn't be feazed a bit when people stared at her as she made a picture. In fact, she would like it. Women were made to look at, and they know it. Ask them, if you don't believe it.
Then again, a woman can always extract a smile. Sometimes it is a sickly smile, but a smile's a smile for all that. It's worth something in a portrait. "Hold your head up, Jack, so that I can show that lovely chin." Can';t you hear it? Can't you see Jack beaming all over. "Aw, come off, Mag; quit yo' kiddin." If a male amateur were taking that picture he would say, "Sit up, you old duffer; don't slump down like a lump of dough. What do you think this is, anyhow? A picture of General Debility?"
Then besides that, once a woman got started she would go anywhere to get the picture she wanted. She's used to bargain counters and shopping competition, and she wouldn't hesitate to walk right into anywhere and stay until she got the thing. Nothing would stop her. She might repent afterwards and wonder whether people thought he bold, but while the game was on she would play it to the limit. If she went out walking with a friend, she wouldn't mind keeping her (or him) waiting an hour or two while she made some views, not she. She would hand him the baggage and tell him to tote it right along.
Then think of all the education a woman could get out of photography. She could learn all about the composition and pyro and developing tanks and mounting and making money out of one's friends by selling them prints, and a great many other things that betoken the well-furnished mind. Educationally, photography should prove a god-send to every woman. Think of all the perfectly good space there is in many women's minds today that isn't filled by anything. If this space could be filled with photographic ideas, the other ideas wouldn't rattle around and bump into each other so much. And there isn't anything that makes a man quite so nervous as this rattling and bumping of loose ides in a woman's mind.
But the finest thing of all would be the blessing it would be to the men if women -- all of them -- took up photography. As matters stand now, the male amateurs have to endure altogether too much. They have to pursue their hobby by stealth and indirection, to avoid the women's watchful eyes. They have to use a corner of a musty cellar for developing when they woud like to use the kitchen sink, They have to go out to dances and be made the subject of sarcastic remarks on big feet when they would rather stay home and make prints.
They have to go along and carry packages home from the store when they would rather be off photographing with some congenial soul, or alone. They have to do a lot of things they don't want to do, and can't fool with photography half as much as they would like to. But if the women were all amateurs how different it would be. We should have plenty of sympathy then, and the only difficulty would be in trying to make the women stay home when we went off after pictures.
But the men would have to pay for it all just the same I suppose.
The Intensifier. “Local Manipulation.” The Amateur Photographer's Weekly, February 4, 1916, 111.
Ketton, Maurice. “Summer Snapshots.” The Amateur Photographer's Weekly, June 16, 1916, 569.