The juxtaposition of a young girl and a prehistoric animal is enigmatic and mythical: beauty meets the beast, but this time on her own terms. While the portrait of each girl shows a distinct individual, these images are united by a common theme, the tension between the future and the past.
The girls are standing on the cusp of womanhood raising questions about their future identity: who will they become? Ancient and venerable, the lobster was determined eons ago and it remains unchanged, while girls are evolving into women. The strength of the girls enable them to stand their ground and handle the lobsters with determination: some cradle the lobster, others squirm, and some raise them aloft triumphantly.
The image of the lobster is loaded with centuries of cultural tradition, from medieval bestiary books to decades of life in Eastern Canada’s rapidly changing fishing towns. Where fishermen once sold their catches across town, today they send their lobsters around the world. Towns now try to balance skyrocketing global demand against the increasing threats of ecological change and overfishing.
The pose in these portraits–a girl holding a lobster–also point to the recent trend of big catch
images posted on social media and dating apps where men brandish their trophies. As the series builds and layers over multiple years, the portraits reveal the intimate process of growing up and learning to cope with strange, spiky, unpredictable situations, discovering how to hold on to the things that matter, and finding a voice.
American photographer Susan Lapides’ work focuses on people, culture, and place. Her subjects range from portraits of visionaries to the fishing communities of New Brunswick, Canada.
Lapides has shown her work widely and was the 2018 recipient of the Beth Block Juried Membership Honoraria from the Houston Center for Photography. Her award-winning photography is in numerous private collections.