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
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.