Head Copy Editor
Chances are at some point before most college students graduate and get a job in their field, they will have to work a less than optimal job where they make less than optimal pay. Often times, these jobs happen to be in the food industry. With uniforms that shroud personality and defy individuality, as well as minimum wage salaries, these jobs are anything but glamorous.
Shauna Frischkorn, photography professor at Millersville University, is working on a series that features these student workers in their uniforms posing as though for a Renaissance portrait. “The minimum wage is just awful. No one could really live on that,” said Frischkorn, “and the people getting the lowest salaries are always the ones wearing the most awful uniforms. It just adds insult on top of the low wages.”
On her website, ShaunaFrischkorn.com, she lists her mission statement behind this series, saying, “I am purposefully creating an ironic yet historical dialogue between my young subjects and Renaissance portraiture. Historically, the portrait’s role was to immortalize the wealthy and important, and to celebrate the individual. Conversely, my subjects have a difficult time earning a living wage.Transplanted from their work environment, they look vulnerable yet dignified as they peer from behind their visors and into my camera. Although they are dressed like thousands of other workers, if you look closer, you can see their nobility.”
Originally, she had hoped to photograph the workers on site in their places of employment. However, as soon as her first model sat down against the black background, “she turned her head towards me and I immediately thought of (Vermeer’s) ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring,” said Frischkorn.
“The black background was one I used with Game Boys (another series she completed), so I was hesitant at first because didn’t want them to look too similar. However, when I saw how much she looked like a Renaissance portrait, I knew the direction I wanted for the series.”
Frischkorn has featured both student workers she’s had in class as well as workers she has met at their places of employment, and is looking for new subjects to photograph for some monetary compensation.Anyone who works at a food establishment and is willing to be photographed for this project may contact Professor Frischkorn by email at Shauna.Frischkorn@millersville.edu or call her office at 717-871-7256.