Laura Hofstadter discovered the world of the photographic darkroom in 1970 in the basement of the Stanford University art gallery, where she took an introductory photo class taught by Leo Holub. After graduating with a biology degree, she held various jobs including a decade-long stint as a science writer with Stanford Medical Center’s News Service. Sometimes she took photographs to accompany her articles, and these images appeared in Stanford publications as well as in local and national newspapers and periodicals.
Entitled Stages, a series of black and white self-portraits emulating classical paintings by the 66-year-old photographer, the project began while experimenting with a 4×5 camera and after discovering how little it took to evoke the classical works, she placed herself front-and-center into various icons of Western art as an expression of her feelings growing older in a youth-obsessed society and also as a reflection of her experience battling cancer.
Each photo is the result of carefully finding a suitable location or creating a set, putting together an accurate costume, gathering props, and matching the framing, angle, and lighting. Hofstadter uses her age as one of them main themes in the series.
Although the series was about coming to terms with different stages of life, loss, and aging, the images were conceived with humor and playfulness through her minimal styling and manipulation.