To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re featuring items from the PWP Archives* each day on this blog. In looking back, we see not only where we started, but how far photography, women, and the world have come since 1975.
Photography books weren’t common in the 1970s, and getting one published was hard, especially if you were a woman. So PWP’s founder, Dannielle Hayes, had to get creative. In 1976, she put out a call on the theme of “woman photographs man” and received hundreds of photos. Then she wrangled a truck, drove it into Rockefeller Center between 49th and 50th streets, and with the help of volunteers, set up two projectors (courtesy of Kodak) and a rear projection screen. She ran the images throughout the day, along with a tape of herself talking, musical interludes, and a “singing” (actually barking) dog.
People took notice, including an editor at William Morrow Fairchild, and Hayes was offered a contract. Women Photograph Men was published in 1977 to great reviews.
But not without drama. Lawyers for the publisher warned Hayes that she would be responsible for any lawsuits arising from the male nudes. Her response: “the little blue-haired lady from the Midwest will love these.” There were no lawsuits, and a similar book, Women See Men was published a few months later. These were the first or some of the earliest anthologies to feature the work of women photographers. Change was in the air; the sisters were stepping up and doing it for themselves.
– Catherine Kirkpatrick
*The PWP Archives were acquired by the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, & Rare Book Library of Emory University
Links to all the 30 For 30 Women’s History Month blogs: