Inside Voices: A Family Portrait

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Photography and Text by Gloria Yuen, Copyright 2016


Inside Voices: A Family Portrait


As a unit of three, we observe each other in triangular formations; a constellation rotating in the same plane – connected, yet always distinct. By instinct, an only child views her parents through the singularity of a camera lens.

For twenty years, it has been like this: I turn to my mother. She says she will pose for me if she must, while my dad, out working, will answer later. By the time he comes home, the sky will be dark. My father and I will avoid gazes, and communicate, as we always have, through fuzzy landlines.

I adjust the camera settings.

My mom is a master of inter-familial translations. Like a surgeon, she peels back the bilingual frustration and hastily flung words as if they are skin, and finds the vital intentions pulsing underneath. She excavates the bodies of misunderstandings between father and daughter.

I scan our surroundings for a good spot. My parents watch me as I watch them.

I adjust my grip and motion my father forward, closer to the lens. It is rare that I get the chance to focus on my father alone. It is even rarer that I get to capture how my parents look at each other, as if I weren’t there.

Snap, save, and rewind.

Enclosed are the records of our conversations.


About The Author: Gloria Yuen is a sophomore majoring in English enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania.  Class of 2018. To read more articles by Gloria Yuen, go here:

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