Saturday, February 25, 2012

Happy Valley: A Photographer Reflects on His Mormon Upbringing

" My brother Nathan, dressed up as Jesus Christ, tries to get three of his five children, dressed in Biblical attire, to pose for photographs which will be painted depicting scenes of Jesus with children for a religious album."

For the last 10 years, photographer Brian Shumway has been returning to his hometown in Utah, a place known as “Happy Valley” to create a "visual and emotional exploration of his own childhood and adolescence by photographing his siblings and their children." Happy Valley is a nickname to a town in Utah that is made up of 80% Mormons. Brian Shumway once practices the same religion but as he got older, he branched off. Shumway said, “to an outsider, living in Happy Valley would probably seem idyllic. It’s quiet, clean, middle to upper-middle class, Caucasian, has almost zero crime [and a place where] people leave their doors unlocked at night and neighbors borrow baking soda from each other.” I think the photographs are beautifully taken and show a peak into his family's lifestyle. Without some of the descriptions under the photographs, I wouldn't have known some of the restriction or rules Mormons have. I really appreciate the lighting in a lot of these, especially the one of the little boy with the sword.

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