Grace Sydney Pham

Grace Sydney Pham is a self-taught photographer who draws inspiration from self-portraitists, especially Cindy Sherman, and horror cinema to express deeply personal views on contemporary feminism, addressing subjects such as careerism and reproductive freedom. 

I'm Married to my Work and I want a Divorce

My intent for this series was to convey the overwhelming emotions I’ve experienced in the pursuit of my career as an aspiring physician-scientist. Time-wise, this comprises 4 years of pre-medical undergraduate coursework, at least 7 years of combined medical and biomedical research training, and anywhere from 3-7 years of medical residency, fellowships, and postdoctoral training. There are major lifestyle differences between men and women pursuing this type of career. I’ve noticed that more male physician-scientists are either married or in stable, long-term relationships compared to their female counterparts, and not necessarily to partners who also work in medicine or research. I have definitely felt pressured by family and peers to “date up” or “date equal,” which has led to suffering at the hands of emotionally insensitive men who work in similar fields as I do. As an undergraduate, I studied English literature and always envisioned myself becoming a literature professor or high school English teacher. I turned to photography first as a means of escapism, but recently sought to directly tackle my dissatisfaction with life through staged self-portraits.

There are two settings for these self-portraits: (1) the research lab where I work and (2) my 500 square foot studio apartment, which posed immense constraints to work within. The various portraits are arranged in chronological order of how I envision my life trajectory manifesting as a result of my chosen career path. I should close with the fact that I am very invested in the career that I have chosen, and that my fears, pessimism, and negative feelings are things I perceive as normal and grapple with on a daily basis. 

Follow her work on Instagram: @suzy.floozy