Co-Portraits is a series of arresting family portraits incorporating elements of fragility, transformation, reflection, disorientation, and kinship familiar to her work. For this portfolio, Swartz asked families to choose a location in nature where they would want their photos taken. Her single directive was that they be playful with one another as one family member held a circular mirror. When Swartz shot the photographs, she positioned herself between the person holding the mirror and the rest of the group. From this central vantage point, she carefully receded into the background to capture fleeting interactions.
The resulting photographs reveal quiet moments of harmony, dissonance, and unconscious affection. Colors, lines, visages, and body parts melt into one another through gesture and light. Detail is lost and abstracted in some areas and preserved in others. Far from traditional or maudlin, the photographs do not capture the likenesses of a specific family. Instead, they locate and reveal magical moments of combination and the instinctive connection between partners, parents, and children—unconscious gestures and touch. The mirror acts as a literal and symbolic tool, allowing for the merging of bodies.
The Co-Portrait photos are poetic investigations of the private, and often complicated, relationships within a family unit. Swartz blurs individual autonomy by layering figures and playing with the depth of field. What appears to be a time lapse or montaged combination is, in fact, the integration of a family. Swartz’s camera lens reveals vivid color and dynamic positioning as well as inherent, private bonds.