Back in 1977, Dennis Reed read something that intrigued him: There once had been a vibrant society of Japanese American photographers, including first-rate modernists, but with the advent of World War II and U.S. internment camps, all of their work had been lost. “Nothing survived,” the photography educator and historian remembers reading in that article. He wondered about that.
Reed spent the next few years researching the subject. He found that not only was there evidence of the work in books and surviving prints, but the work was exceptional. “They were so damn good and nobody knew about them,” says a still-astonished Reed, who will discuss his new limited-edition book, “Japanese American Photography,” on Thursday at the Glendale Central Library.
After more years of searching, studying and collecting whatever original pre-war prints he could find, Reed mounted a 1982 gallery show of the work at Los Angeles Valley College, where he was a photography professor in the art department for 32 years. He retired last year.