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Amanda Lucier March 4, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.

Lurlena, Sturgeon, Missouri. From “The Secret Life of Children”

Amanda Lucier (b. 1980, USA) graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Reed College with a degree in Political Science and is finishing her Master’s degree in Photojournalism at the University of Missouri. Currently an intern at The Herald in Jasper, Ind., Amanda was twice a Rhodes Scholarship finalist, Runner-Up 2008 College Photographer of the Year, and won an assignment at the Eddie Adams Workshop in October. She is headed to the Dallas Morning News for an internship this summer. She loves local stories, long drives, feature hunts and the 4-H Fair.

About the Photograph:

“In this picture, Lurlena cries in the back of the family car after losing the contest for Carnival Princess at her school. She spent the day getting ready, with a new white dress and new shoes. The winner was decided based on whose parents bought the most tickets, and Lurlena’s family could only afford eight dollars worth. This moment breaks my heart, and I’m sure Lurlena understood just how unfair life could be. It was amazing to be this deep into her life that she didn’t care about being photographed.”

“Many of my days are spent driving around, hoping to find feature pictures for the paper. During graduate school, I met a kid, Dacota, on one of those drives, and there was something magical about him. Gradually I became more involved with his life, and started spending time with his extended family of cousins who lived in Sturgeon. Mo., a small town about an hour outside of Columbia. Working on this project was in some ways the opposite of newspaper work. I had no definite sense of the “story” I was covering, just a feeling of wonder and a certain freedom to make whatever pictures I wanted to. The story of the secret lives of these children slowly unfolded. I was immediately accepted into the family, and could come and go whenever I had the time. This is the story I dream of returning to, over and over again, as the kids get older. In all of this chaos there are these quiet, reflective moments that resonate with me.”


1. alan - March 4, 2009

I know life contains much deeper wells of sadness, but the photo broke my heart too. Is there a companion photo of Lurlena laughing? (Preferably sometime later that day.)

2. michaelm - December 7, 2009

Amazing photo.
I have three daughters and know of the pain and anguish associated with nepotism in society.
A picture poem, methinks.
I am using this picture for a post of mine and will give you full attribution.
If you would like, please visit me.
If you would like the picture removed, drop me an email.
Keep up the incredible work.

3. Troy - December 9, 2009

Things like this break my heart, but also make me angry. With as much money as we spend on education as a country, it’s despicable that schools have to resort to ‘contests’ in order to raise money for their classroom. A contest decided by who spends the most money? Give me a break!

I’ve dealt with this personally with my young son who is disappointed when we can’t spend enough money for his classroom so can win a prize.

A great time to learn that life isn’t fair and that we must deal with disappointment.

Great photo, btw.

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