Illuminating Family, Reframing Teen Parenthood

For the past three years, I photographed teen families. In the beginning, I started as a volunteer yoga instructor in Portland High Schools for the Teen Parent Services Program. As time went by, I got to know these powerful and inspiring young women, and realized that they were nothing like what our society tells us, they were not failures, in the least.

The project evolved over time from working with mothers who are teenagers now with small children, into working with mothers and fathers who were teenagers when they had children, but are now in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, etc. This beautiful evolution had tremendous impact on our community, bringing people together in a powerful way.

This body of work is a celebration of teen families, to honor them in a society that tells them their dreams can never be fulfilled, that they should feel shame and they are worthless. Swartz has photographed these families in a way that honors them, that shows their strength, their power, dignity and love.