Fascinating Prom Portraits Across America

From 2006 to 2009, photographer Mary Ellen Mark has traveled across America to snap shots of teens attending their high school prom. The series, simply titled Prom, exhibits four years worth of images from 13 different proms, including ones held in cancer treatment centers for young patients, that the dedicated photographer has attended for her project. Each large-format black and white portrait in the series was shot with a 20×24 inch Polaroid Land Camera, of which there are only five in existence. The project gives us a glimpse of the diverse set of students posing for the camera, all dressed up and ready to party.

In America, Mark's series proves to be very relatable regardless of whether you've attended your own prom or not. Throughout generations, proms have been heavily revered as one of the most memorable evenings in an American teenager's life, adding unique experiences to each person's respective coming-of-age journey. While many may argue that a prom photo is not indicative of a teen's last four years in high school, there's something about these portraits that are both revealing of the relationships made and leaves viewers wanting to know more about their stories.

Prom is now available as a book by the same name, featuring over 120 portraits. There is also an accompanying DVD documenting the project, as shot by Mark's husband director Martin Bell. To see selected images in person, the series is currently on display at the Janet Borden gallery in New York through January 12, 2012.

Mary Ellen Mark website
via [Photojojo, Flavorwire]


Pinar Noorata is the Managing Editor at My Modern Met. She is a writer, editor, and content creator based in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her BA in Film and Media Studies from CUNY Hunter College and is an alumni of the Center for Arts Education’s Career Development Program in NYC. She has worked at major TV, film, and publishing companies as well as other independent media businesses. When she isn’t writing, editing, or creating videos herself, Pinar enjoys watching movies, reading, crafting, drawing, and volunteering at her local animal shelter.
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