Los Angeles-based fine art photographer Parker Day is one of the most original voices in the contemporary scene. Creating entire worlds in collaboration with her models, Day’s work is defiant, confident, bright, and unafraid of stepping into the surreality of color and strange fashion.
Parker Day’s Early Life
Day was born in 1984 and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Growing up, her father owned a comic book shop in San Jose, California that had a focus on underground comics — R. Crumb even made business cards for the store. This exposed her to a wide variety of weird tales and characters rendered in primary colors. The comics no doubt informed her future aesthetic. Day also drew inspiration from 90s fashion photographers like David LaChapelle and street photographers like William Klein.
Day’s mother encouraged her to explore the world of fine art, taking her to various galleries and museums. Crucially, her parents also encouraged her to go off and pursue activities on her own.
While still in high school, she discovered her love for photography during a class art project. She went on to receive her education at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
In 2015, she moved to LA to pursue her career, and through an expertly crafted social media presence, she found success with her raw yet cultivated portraits.
Parker Day’s Fine Art Photography
Day has worked in both fashion and street photography, but she is now best known for her portraits of models that create portals into a surreal, over-saturated world. Often, she produces the work in deep collaboration with her models, sourcing clothing and other props from collective thrift store shopping sprees.
She made a major splash in 2017 with the completion of her series ICONS. Across 100 portraits, Day brings to life entire personas that pull the viewer into their world. The show premiered as a solo exhibition at Superchief Gallery LA, and it was later released as a monograph from Not a Cult Press. They also released a book on her later series Possession.
Since then, she has published widely, gaining recognition for her trademark palette and ability to combine models, clothing, and objects into forceful visions that compel the viewer to keep looking.
The Triumph of the Strange
The combination of subject matter and highly controlled tableaus — brought together with her odd and forceful aesthetic — is one of the most compelling ongoing concerns in the art world.
The work has an undeniably timeless quality to it. Day’s character portraits are shot on 35 mm, and they use no Photoshop or dark room retouching techniques. Everything is done in camera, with an assortment of items that are thrifted — making them appear as dream-like soups of the past several decades.
You can follow Day’s extraordinary output on her Instagram where she regularly posts her portraits that evoke entire stories.