Portrait of the Graduate: Yee-Fun Yin

April 24 to April 29, 2009

An essential part of the Taft education is the preparation of each student for lifelong learning, citizenship, and service, encapsulated in the often-used caption ‘Portrait of a Graduate.’ This became the entry point for a new body of work for my portrait photography. In this series, also titled Portrait of a Graduate, the individuals are photographed in their entirety, a direct reference to Taft’s mission of educating the entire student.

Members of the Class of 2009 were asked to volunteer for a collaborative project. The response was overwhelming and the pictures were made over a period of one month leading up to the winter break. The first thirty students who responded to the call for models were selected. Students were asked to dress in the outfit of their own choosing and to provide their own props.

In visual terms, these portraits are inspired by the long narrow canvases of John Singer Sargent’s portraits of Mrs. Henry White, 1883 (87 x 55 in), or Madame X, 1884 (82 x 43 in). The Hasselblad Xpan camera, which shoots a double 35mm frame, is therefore chosen for its panoramic format. The uniform and neutral background allows each graduate to present himself or herself singularly as well as collectively to the community of Taft and the world beyond. The door-like framing simultaneously signifies both an exit and an entry.

All images measure 55 x 20 inches.

Yee-Fun Yin
Taft School
Watertown, Connecticut