A resident of Somerville, Amber Davis received her MFA in Photography and Computer Arts at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1998 and then taught on the faculty of Princeton University. Currently, she teaches photography and new media at Massachusetts College of Art and Emerson College. A unique blending of art and activism, Davis's work with gay-parented families has been featured in gay, lesbian, and transgendered targeted publications, such as Arts & Understanding, the Advocate, COLAGE and FamilyPride Coalition Publications. Her project takes on increased meaning given the recent ruling on gay marriage in Massachusetts.

For the past seven years, Davis has been photographing her family: her gay father, his lifelong partner, mother and stepfather as well as community friends. This online exhibit showcases some of her most recent collaborative portraits. As most are located in the suburbs surrounding Boston, it speaks to the changing demographics of the gay family. Taken with medium format cameras, the end results are large lush 30 x 40 inch ink jet color prints. The arrangements as well as the final print size allude to renaissance genre scenes and iconic images of family. The poses, chosen by Davis and the families together, vacillate from highly orchestrated to the extremely casual and mundane. The act of simply picturing these families and moments makes this project so vital. Each setting serves to put forth a much-needed glimpse of the gay family, but also speaks to how we all picture ourselves within family.

To see more of Davis's work, visit


Matthew Gamber
August 2004

Mariliana Arvelo
July 2004

Ken Richardson

June 2004

Julie Melton

May 2004

Marlo Marrero

April 2004

Erik Gould
March 2004

Mori Insinger
February 2004

Jen Kodis

January 2004

Amber Davis
December 2003

Paul Taggart

November 2003

Marla Sweeney
October 2003

Dylan Vitone
September 2003

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about the Northeast Exposure.

Family Pictures

Through photography I investigate the possibilities for constructing gender, sexual and class identities beyond the traditions of the nuclear family. For seven years I have photographed my family of gay father and straight mother. My personal and social relationship with my father and his boyfriend has informed how I make photographs and experience community. It is my belief that images of nontraditional families reveal something new about the cultural production of kinship and the identities of individuals within family structures? What is the contemporary mythos constructing selfhood within gay and straight family, community and culture?

For the past three years the project has extended to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered families I actively collaborate with LGBT families and adult children of gay parented families in the intimate space of their homes and during public LGBT gatherings. I am interested in how the gay community has and will shape the photographic practices and readings of the nontraditional family photographic archive.

Through the performative practice of constructing and sharing the formal family portrait how do we all perform identity as contingent and in flux? Collaboratively constructing portraiture in the homes of my family and others, makes visible the reworking of gender roles that seems to be going on for many contemporary families. Unexpectedly, so far in this body of work, it is class more than gender, which has emerged as a defining family social structure.

I work with color and black & white films and I use medium and large format cameras. Some of the photography is done with a hand-held camera; some is done with a large view camera on a tripod. I digitally scan my negatives and edit them in Photoshop. The full size prints are about 30"x40". I print on silver-based papers, clay treated surfaces combined with archival pigment inks using an Epson 9600 ink jet printer on thick sheets of Rag paper.

- Amber Davis