‘We wanted people to see we exist’: the photographer who recorded lesbian life in the 70s

She toured America photographing women like herself, at a time when being out could cost you your job, home and family. As Eye to Eye, a book of her groundbreaking work is republished, Joan E Biren, known as JEB, recalls why the images were so vitally important

“The thing that’s really hard for people to understand today,” says Joan E Biren, “is that in the 70s, it was impossible to find authentic and affirming images of lesbians. They didn’t exist.” Biren, or JEB as she is better known, is widely regarded as the first lesbian photographer to compile a book of photographs of lesbians for lesbians.

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