The high school prom is a social ritual unique to North America, and as with any good ritual photography is an integral part. From an early age we are coached on how to present ourselves to the camera, yet we still look to the photographer for direction and validation.

These photographs began with a simple idea. What if prom couples gathered to walk the red carpet were unexpectedly directed to a purpose-built studio, given only directions on where to stand, immediately photographed, and told to move on as the next couple was called?

The photographs are less about the ritual and more about the choices we make in presenting the self. Without the photographer’s interference, these are the individual and collective decisions made in an instant before the camera.

— Rick Ashley

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