Betsy Schneider: To Be Thirteen

  • Hardcover / 8 x 10 inches
    250 images / 524 pages

  • Co-published with
    Phoenix Art Museum

    Photography by Betsy Schneider

    Text by Rebecca Senf

  • ISBN: 9781942185260
  • Trade Edition: $45.00
  • Signed Edition: $50.00


In 2011, photographer Betsy Schneider, herself the mother of a thirteen-year-old daughter, embarked on a project to explore the experience of being thirteen: “With this work I am interested in provoking thought about simple dichotomies to which adolescence is so often reduced. I am motivated by the intensity, the complexity and the beauty of that point in life. I wonder not only about the experience of early adolescence, but also about how we as adults retain that experience and how it shapes us for the rest of our lives.” Traveling around the United States, the Guggenheim grant recipient spent 2012 chronicling 250 thirteen-year-olds, creating still portraits and video documentation of each. The resulting body of work creates a rich collective portrait of a group of Americans whose lives began at the turn of the millennium and who are coming of age now. To Be Thirteen depicts all 250 portraits, and includes an interview by Center for Creative Photography Chief Curator Rebecca Senf with Schneider, unpacking details about the artist’s process, insights about the experience, and how the project changed her, as well as excerpts from the thirteen-year-olds’ own words. This publication captures and conveys the experience of meeting with the artist and looking through a stack of prints with her, and will complement an exhibition of the project debuting at the Phoenix Art Museum in the spring of 2018.


Betsy Schneider is a photographer and filmmaker who explores and documents transformation over time, with particular interest in the people closest to her. Long term work has included nearly twelve years of daily photos of her daughter from birth to early adolescence (Quotidian); fifteen years photographing the beautiful, evocative, and messy details of childhood (Sweet is the Swamp); and To Be Thirteen. Schneider’s work is exhibited internationally and is in several notable public and private collections including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Nelson-Atkins Museum; and the Museet for Fotokunst in Denmark. A dedicated educator, she has recently been visiting faculty at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and Harvard University. After fourteen years as a professor in the School of Art at Arizona State University, Schneider is now based in Boston, while maintaining her affiliation with Arizona State, currently developing and directing an online BFA program in photography.


Dr. Rebecca Senf is the Chief Curator at the Center for Creative Photography and the Norton Family Curator of Photography, a joint appointment between the Center for Creative Photography and the Phoenix Art Museum. While at the Phoenix Art Museum between 2007-2015, Senf curated over thirty exhibitions. She has an active role in the photographic community, frequently participating in portfolio reviews, and has received recognition both as a curator and photography advocate. She earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Art History from Boston University.