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Laura Morton July 7, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.

Debutante Ball in San Francisco, 2009

Laura Morton (b. 1984, USA) grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and began to pursue a career in photojournalism during her undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she graduated in 2006 with a degree in Political Science and Journalism. Her personal work currently focuses on wealth and the way it affects those who have it. She has received a 2014 Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund grant and is a winner of the 2013 Magenta Flash Forward Emerging Photographers exchange. Her series The Social Stage was awarded in the 2012 PDN Photo Annual and was a winner of the 2013 Hearst 8X10 Photography Biennial. She is based in San Francisco where she is contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal and Getty Global Assignment.

About the Photograph:

“This photo was taken at a debutante ball in San Francisco. I wanted to explore coming-of-age rituals for women and was particularly drawn to debutante balls because of the deep-rooted history of these events. Historically their purpose was to introduce young women to society so that they could find suitable husbands. Today most of the events are focused on giving girls the confidence, connections and social skills to help them succeed in college and later on in their careers. It’s surprising to think about how the opportunities available to women in this country have changed in the last decades. I wanted to explore who these girls were and why they chose to participate in what is often described as an antiquated ritual. This photograph was taken just before the ball. You can see the debutantes and their escorts relaxing after long hours spent preparing for the festivities. I loved this scene because everyone seemed to be engrossed in their own thoughts. As a photographer, I’m particularly drawn to different layers and my favorite photos are often ones you have to study and linger on for a moment. When the employee from the hotel started setting up the chairs in the background, unnoticed by the debutantes and their escorts, I knew I’d gotten the shot I wanted.”