When New York native Margaret LeJeune took a teaching position in rural Arkansas, she experienced the expected culture clash. Margaret set out to understand her new environment and tasked her students with a photography project. What ended up happening was that the college students would take pictures of their hunting trips or scenes of their families clad in camouflage. Far away from where she had grown up in upstate New York, Margaret found herself fascinated by these photographs. Her students inspired her to set out on a project that would lead her all over the country and into the homes of everyday huntresses.
“I thought if I could make a series of work exploring hunting culture I could get to know my students a little better,” Margaret said in a phone interview.
What resulted was a series of breathtaking photographs that set the modern day huntress not on the field, but rather the interior of their own domestic space. Margaret called the award-winning series “The Modern-Day Diana.”
“I wanted to photograph women in their homes, their domestic environments,” Margaret said. “I was interested in the way that they were using their sporting passion to shape their homes and how it influenced their space.”
Initially Margaret was met with suspicion. The most common questions asked of her were “are you with PETA?” or “are you anti-hunting?” Although not a hunter herself, Margaret simply wanted to document women hunters from a view where they are not often seen, the home.
Eventually, people began warming to her. Her first out-of-state photo shoot took place in Michigan, for which she made the long drive from Arkansas.
“I would usually meet with these women for about four hours and I would talk with them as I set up equipment,” Margaret said. “It became like an interview where I would ask them why they like hunting, where they’ve been or what they hunted. I really began to understand that there were subcultures within the world of hunting. There were big game hunters that went on safari, women who went hunting with their husbands and those that go hunting in groups with other women.”
Perhaps most of all Margaret wanted to explore stereotypes. Stereotypes of how women hunters behaved, were viewed, and even their race.
She says that the series is mostly documentation, although if there was a message it would be this: what is a woman hunter, what interests her?
“My goal is to educate, to exploring the preconceived notions of what these women are,” Margaret explained. “I’m really interested in where these notions of a woman who hunts, a woman who is armed come from.”
The series was not born overnight. Margaret worked on it for the past few years during her off-time from teaching, balancing her professional life with her new found interest. Although she no longer lives in Arkansas, Margaret is still exploring the world around her through photography. You can see more of her work on her website here.
Images courtesy Margaret LeJeune