Black Lace Portraits
Photo by Edward Steichen (1924)
While visiting the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, I came across a postcard of a famous photo of Gloria Swanson by Edward Steichen. I was entranced by what the lace simultaneously concealed and revealed. Right then I decided I wanted to recreate Steichen's technique. I spent nearly a year in the darkroom, printing photos of women I shot behind black lace. I ended up doing two series; for the first, I photographed young women, mostly in their twenties and thirties. Then I decided to concentrate on older women, in their sixties to their nineties. The "invisible" years. What I discovered is that black lace is magic. Truly. It conceals wrinkles and other signs of aging. Some of the women in the two series are 70 years apart, but you'd never know it. They all look so glamorous. I also love that the lace obscures not only age, but ethnic differences as well. What it does is allow the essence of womanhood to shine through. We see strength, determination, kindness, serenity, weariness, confidence, amusement. We are all unique, but share an underlying commonality. It underscores the irrelevance of superficial things like age and ethnicity, and emphasizes that at our core, there's far more that we have in common than what separates us.
The photos I've posted here are a mix of digital and film.