I was browsing in a Waterstones shop and came across the book Women Walking by Karin Sagner.
As a side note, I can’t stress how important physical bookshops are to our knowledge. I am certain that I would not have come across this book from browsing online.
The book is a collection of paintings from the late 18th to the early 20th century which depict women not inside the home environment but out and about in the towns and countryside. So what is so special about this? Well, the point is, that if you look hard enough, there are works of art which do not show women as passive objects.
Even though during this time period there were very few female artists to give an alternative to the male gaze, it is good to see that there was work being created which, as the subtitle of the book suggests, showed the Freedom Adventure Independence of women.
Now that we are in 2018 the question has to be asked: have things improved? Well from this piece on the BBC News website Do ‘dead’ models live on in fashion magazines? we may not have moved on as much as we think we have.
Digging a little deeper, the research by Jennifer Moss is a few years old and you can read the 2017 update here.
For me this is more evidence in how important it is to think very carefully about how I am depicting the women I am photographing for this project.