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Hunting for the Shot

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Margaret LeJeune, assistant professor of photography at Bradley, earned a BA in studio art at Nazareth College of Rochester, N.Y., and an MFA in photography/visual studies from Visual Studies Workshop, also in Rochester. She has had international teaching experiences in Egypt, France and the Netherlands. A member of the Society of Photographic Education, the College Art Association, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, LeJeune plans to continue her Modern Day Diana series, specifically targeting women hunters in the Midwest.

For an art professor who had no experience with guns, Margaret LeJeune discovered a new world of photographic inspiration rooted in women hunters in Batesville, Ark., in 2007.

During her first year teaching at Lyon College in Batesville, LeJeune assigned her Photo I class to take self-portraits. Born and raised in Rochester, N.Y., she wasn’t prepared to view the images her students submitted for their critique. “I was shocked to see the majority of students took photos of themselves hunting or posed with guns,” said the Bradley assistant professor of photography. “It was from this experience that the seed of my Modern Day Diana series was planted.”

Realizing that a photographic exploration of hunting might be a way to connect with her students and the community, the project “became a way for me to explore, analyze, and visually communicate my intellectual curiosity.”

The Modern Day Diana series, named after the Roman goddess of the hunt, evolved over several years, depicting formal portraits of female hunters in their home environments. “By examining their domestic spaces, I showed the diversity of the hunters, including their socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as the genre of hunting they participated in, such as big-game hunting or hunting for food,” explained LeJeune.

The portrait sittings would usually last two to four hours. Photographed with a 4-by-5 view camera, each scene was composed under a dark cloth, and LeJeune informally interviewed each woman about her experiences in the sport of hunting.

LeJeune said she has received accolades for the work and was invited to give an imagemakers presentation at the 2012 Society for Photographic Education (SPE) conference in San Francisco. The series also was recognized by the curator of photographs at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) with a Curator’s Choice Award at the Center, Santa Fe competition. The Modern Day Diana has been featured on Slate.com and Actuphoto.com. 

“An international network of females who hunt (DIVA) has helped me reach a wider audience, and I continue to receive emails and calls from women who would like to be part of the series,” LeJeune added. “These intimate portraits question the relationship between the home — traditionally a woman’s place — and the hunting world — typically a masculine realm.”  

By Karen Crowley Metzinger
Photography by Margaret LeJeune