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Hello, here is Izumi and I have some interesting information to tell you about a photographer from previous times who does not deserve the obscurity he rests in and I hope by showing you what I have here you will agree with me and think of him from time to time. I am sure that will make his spirit happy.

When I was looking at old books my uncle had of early photographers I came across a Japanese photographer called Nobukuni Enami but who called himself and his studio in Yokohama, T Enami.

 
     
     
 
 
     
     
 

He took many thousands of photographs of Japanese scenes and customs and people in his days, which he lived in from 1859 until 1929, and people in his studio would make them into coloured prints by hand. This was made doubly hard by him shooting two images of each scene so they could be made into stereoscopic postcards which he then sold as they were very popular. So the colours of each picture had to be exactly the same so your two eyes would think they were looking at the one scene but in three dimensions instead of two.

He also took many photographs of the members of the Edo Ladies' Pinhole Camera Club and I will show you some of them here now.

 
     
     
         
 
 
 
Here are the Club members having a meeting and discussing their latest prints
 
         
         
     
 

Even though they started out using pinhole cameras in the 1880s, as in those days cameras using lenses were very expensive and quite fiddlesome to use, the Ladies were also interested in many other forms of photography including portraits and especially landscapes, as there was a long tradition of artists producing ukiyo-e, or woodblock prints, of famous landscapes and views of Japan.

So as photography became more popular and the equipment more affordable for them, they acquired other cameras. They had a policy that all cameras were available to be used by all Members, even if they were personally owned by one of the Ladies. And if they decided that a particular camera or lens was desirous, they all contributed to the cost of buying it.

Mr Nobukuni 'Toshi' Enami started his photographic career in Edo (which people now call Tokyo) in the 1880s and spent much time with the members of the Club and documented their activities in detail before moving his studio to Yokohama in 1892. Perhaps his interest was not only in the photographic but maybe in the personal as well. As you can see, there were many beautiful women who were members of the Club. Could that also be the reason for his move, I wonder? Here I will show you some of his photographs of their activities when they were caught up in the stereoscopic craze that swept Japan in that time.

 
     
     
         
 
 
 
Here the Ladies sort through their recent work
 
         
         
         
   
Quietly admiring a shot
   
         
         
         
   
Checking focus and exposure
   
         
         
         
   
Self-criticism is always encouraged
   
         
         
         
   
   
Musing over a favourite shot…
         
         
         
 
 
 
… or subject
 
         
         
         
 
 
 
The Finance Committee deciding whether they can afford a new camera or not
 
         
         
         
 
 
 
Younger members (maiko) are always welcome
 
         
         
         
   
   
A young member with her photo album
         
         
         
   
A new member gets a gentle critique of her work
   
         
         
         
 
 
 
The Club on location
 
         
         

 

         
 
         
         
         
 
 
         
         
     
 

This above lady is called Eiryu, and she was known as the Queen of the Postcard Geishas because she posed many times for Mr Enami and he sold thousands and thousands of postcards and stereoviews of her.

She may have been a member of the Club or she may have posed for them - the historical details are a bit unknown after such a passage of time.

 
     
     
     
 
 
 
The Edo Ladies' Pinhole Camera Club on an outing
 
     
     
     
     
 

The Edo Ladies' Pinhole Camera Club seems to have faded away by the 1920s, probably as the members grew too old to keep up their interest and the modernisation of Japan meant that there was less time for the leisurely hobbies and pursuits of the Meiji and Taisho Eras.

 
     
 

You can find out many things about Mr Enami and his fascinating life and see many hundreds of his wonderful photographs at this website and I thank Mr Rob Oechsle for letting me have the use of them to show you here. Please have a look at all the hard work he has put into the recognition of Mr Enami.

As you travel through it you will realise that as well as many other genres he was also a street photographer so I feel that there is a link from him to me, especially when I am out walking with my PEN. In a way there is more of a link between him and me because of our background cultures being the same, than between M Cartier-Bresson and me even though our arenas and styles of shooting are more similar. But that is really just because of differences and modernisms of the cameras we use.

I would love to be able to lend my PEN to Mr Enami and see what photographs he could produce with it. There do not seem to be any photographs of him at work which is a pity as I would like to see what sort of camera he had and how he used it. But then I can understand in a way as there are no photographs of me walking the streets unless I am a reflection in a shop window. I do not think there would have been many shop windows in Japan in the days of Mr Enami.

I hope you have enjoyed this diversion from my street walking.

Your friend,

Izumi.

 
     
     
     
     
     
 
 
 
To fully understand my footsteps, please read me from the start.
 
The Edo Ladies' Pinhole Camera Club
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