These portraits of teenagers were taken at Dunn School, a small boarding school north of Santa Barbara, where I have been teaching since 1998. I photographed the students during breaks between classes or on their lunch hour. These are guarded, yet revealing portraits of an unusual cross-section of teenagers. They are individuals on the brink of adulthood, perhaps not fully formed, but with the shadows of experience beginning to show in their faces.

I didn’t pose the students, but that is not to say that they are unposed photographs. They are certainly responding, consciously or unconsciously, to the images with which they are inundated on an hourly basis. They have been photographed enough to know what they look like, and they position themselves in front of the camera, altering their countenance to match a collective memory of the latest unsmiling model selling image, sexuality, and acceptance. The clothes that they wear and their facial expressions hide the insecurities, the doubts, and the self-consciousness of adolescents. The best of the portraits are those that allow a glimpse into the persona hiding behind the mask.

Kam Jacoby
October 13, 2004