Fascinating Prom Portraits from Across America

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Do you remember your prom? Ooh, sorry, sorry, didn’t mean to hit a nerve there. Maybe you’ve moved happily on, but what photographer Mary Ellen Mark (and so many others) dub “the quintessential American coming-of age ritual” still happens. Over the course of four years Mark took portraits at 13 high school proms held across the country using one of only five existing 20×24 inch Polaroid Land Cameras. The results are exquisite, formal, and composed portraits illustrating a wide diversity of couples (and solos). Emo kids. The young-rich-fashionable. Survivors. Charming geeks.

The project was published in the book Prom and documented by her filmmaker husband Martin Bell as interviews on camera. Mark’s work is currently on view at New York’s Janet Borden gallery until January 19; see some of our favorite shots of kids these days below in our slideshow.

Photo credit: Mary Ellen Mark

Photo credit: Mary Ellen Mark

Photo credit: Mary Ellen Mark

Photo credit: Mary Ellen Mark

Photo credit: Mary Ellen Mark

Photo credit: Mary Ellen Mark

Photo credit: Mary Ellen Mark

Photo credit: Mary Ellen Mark

Photo credit: Mary Ellen Mark

Photo credit: Mary Ellen Mark