Edited by Elina Druker and Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer
[Children’s Literature, Culture, and Cognition 17] 2023
► pp. 189–209
Anna Riwkin was a Russian-Swedish photographer who contributed significantly to the growing use of photographs in children’s picturebooks during the second half of the twentieth century. This chapter investigates the photographic techniques and genres in Riwkin’s works for children. Using a selection of reportage portraits and photo books by her as a starting point, the chapter discusses the relationship between words and images in photo narratives for children. During the early part of her career, Riwkin specialized in portraits and dance photography and during the 1930s, she added journalistic work to her repertoire. Traces of all these genres are evident in her photographic picturebooks. They express realist and documentary ambitions, aiming to capture the perspective of the individuals portrayed, but at the same time their images are staged and embedded in a narrative, which affects their expression and style. Riwkin’s choice to work with children’s literature also raises questions about women photographers’ position within the field of photography. How were women photographers perceived within different types of photography? Should the aim to work with children’s books be understood in relation to the artist’s socially engaged approach or was it seen as particularly suitable for a female photographer? Since Riwkin was one of the pioneering women photographers in Europe, the reception of her work is of utmost interest, both when it comes to contemporary critique and the perception of her work in later photographic research.