I am 5 years old. My sister and I are in matching purple short-alls with little flower buttons. The photographer, a youngish woman instructs me to lay on my stomach. I am not too young not to understand submission and an outraged and confused feeling rises when she then instructs my younger and chubby sister to straddle my back. How could this adult, imbued with inherent authority make such a ridiculous demand? I turn towards my mother, anticipating her to intercede, but to my shock, she smiles and urges me to turn toward the camera and smile….
This memory motivated me to take photographs that examined the ubiquitous, but ignored, social and aesthetic custom of the modern studio portrait. The very place where the above memory was formed.
Rather than create a parody, I conducted an undercover operation where I took a job as a portrait photographer at a JcPenny portrait studio. Working just as much as a cultural anthropologist, as an artist, I made photographs of customers, my subjects, while documenting my process.