Blogging Is Overrated

Capturing the Suburban Dream

What defines the American Dream? And can you find it in a suburban home?

Disillusioned with her own life in the Silicon Valley suburbs, photographer Beth Yarnelle Edwards set out to document family life in that region of California in 1997 for a series she titled “Suburban Dreams.”

Shooting with film, a wide-angle lens, and a mixture of artificial and natural light, Edwards set out to make “hyperreal” painterly images of contemporary American life.

“I think of my images as being like genre paintings because they’re intended to depict a typical event in the home rather than a decisive moment,” Edwards explained via email. “And like genre paintings, I strive to include as much information about the people and the place as possible.”

The images are the result of collaboration between Edwards and the families she photographs. She interviews them, takes a tour of their home, and then recreates events from the family’s daily life. Rather than pose them, she sets up improvisations. “When I see a gesture or action that rings true, I’ll ask the person to freeze because my shutter speeds are fairly slow; this leads to a slightly frozen look, which I love,” Edwards said.

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