Spinster Photog Lampoons Traditional Life Expectations in Mannequin Family Photos

2013 Paris - 8 - METRO - 650px-wmk

“Enough pressure to conform will send anyone packing.” That’s how photographer and art director Suzanne Heintz begins the description of her viral, satirical and funny photo series Life Once Removed. Too many suggestions that she was getting a bit too old to still be single — that she needed to “just PICK somebody” and “settle down” — pushed her to the point where she did pick somebody.

That someone, however, was a mannequin family, which she promptly packed up in her station wagon and took on a road trip.

Life Once Removed is an ode… an ode to “Spinsterhood, and the American Way.” An ode made up of quintessential ‘Kodak Moments’ that show her living a blissful life with her mannequin family.

2013 Paris - 4 - CAFE AMERICAIN - 650px-wmk

But as time went on, and especially once she began taking the mannequins on trips, the series became about more than just fulfilling her mother’s request in the most satirical way possible, or finding a way to respond to the annual family photo cards that come in the mail. Her sharp, witty approach helps her send a message.

“Using humor, paired with shock, allows my message to penetrate, and the work can have greater impact,” writes Heintz. “The aim is to get people to reconsider their stubborn allegiance to traditional life expectations.”

Here’s a selection of images from the series:

2000 At Home - CLIPPERS - 650px-wmk

2009 Christmas09 - JOY TO THE WORLD 650px-wmk

2000 At Home - DISHES - 650px-wmk

2011 Christmas11 - SKATERS WALTZ - 650px-wmk

2008 Christmas08 - THE ACCIDENT - 650px-wmk

2012 Christmas12 - LIFTED SPIRITS - 650px-wmk

2012 Holiday - BLUE EGG - 650px-wmk

2013 Holiday - VALENTINES DIY - 650px-wmk

2012 Holiday - SPARKLER - 650px-wmk

2013 Paris - 1 - EIFFEL TOWER - 650px-wmk

2013 At Home - SLEEPING IN - 650px-wmk

2013 Paris - 3 - PONT DE LALMA - 650px-wmk

2013 Christmas13 - FAMILY CRISIS - 650px-wmk

2013 Paris - 5 - JARDIN DES TUILERIES - 650px-wmk

She further explains the message she’s trying to send in her artist statement:

Ozzie & Harriet are dead. So why is this antiquated idea still affecting our image of marriage? It is the reason why this Series is named “Life Once Removed.” A family relation, a generation apart, is “once removed.” So is our relationship with our path in Life. It’s passed on by the previous generation, once removed from our own. Why do we cling to past tradition as the measure of success in the present?

To see the rest of the images from the series, or browse through more of Heintz’s photographic portfolio, head over to hear website by clicking here.

(via Feature Shoot)

  • Peter Neill

    Brilliant – both in execution & humour…

  • Kynikos

    Bitter much?

  • David Vaughn

    I actually really enjoyed looking at these photos. Most of them are really well done, and they’re all different.

    And I have to applaud her for giving and artist statement that is actually relevant and understandable to the audience instead of using a thesaurus to make an otherwise simple point complicated.

  • Jen

    Absurd and ridiculous. Why does a woman get away with this but if a male photographer did the same thing I’m sure they would be called creepy or worse.
    You know, even Gloria Steinem eventually got married. Bury your anti-men hatchet. This is about unresolved issues, not art. The huge fake smiles are the worst part.

  • lord eels

    it’s not that you never picked anyone
    it’s that no one ever picked you


  • Eden Wong

    Haha… I don’t know what I’m enjoying more… these silly, goofy, funny
    photos, or watching some others here completely missing the loud
    whoooooooooooshing noise… the sound of everything going right over their heads.

    People, you crack me up.

  • Eden Wong

    Haha… I don’t know what I’m enjoying more… these silly, goofy, funny
    photos, or watching some others here completely missing the loud
    whoooooooooooshing noise… the sound of everything going right over their heads…

    People, you crack me up.

  • dskennedy2

    I think I would enjoy these more if she wasn’t pulling our focus to her exaggerated mugging. Reminds me too much of the “Flo from Progressive” commercials or Jim Carrey circa 1995. An artist’s choice is theirs to make, but I think her points about past tradition could have been relayed better (without having to explain it) with some muted subtlety (rather than sardonic clown faces). Maybe that’s why I think the morning bed shot is pretty great (where the muted colors and simpler composition doesn’t try to scream at us).

    On the other hand, she may be trying to annoy half her audience, which could be the point (I probably wouldn’t have written this otherwise).

  • AbinSur

    “This is about unresolved issues”……. apparently yours

  • DomDdom

    I wish more bitter people were this creative with their outlet and execution.

  • Tyler Magee

    This is creepy as hell but absolutely amazing.

  • SavetheGoonieBirds

    Brilliant work Ms Heintz. I like your sense of humour and style. Hope there’s loads more of these coming our way!

  • greenarcher02

    It’s still creepy.

  • Burnin Biomass

    I think she is playing on the of 50’s family model, and her reactions and the color saturation seem to fit with that theme (at least for me). She is mocking that traditional relationship, and the over the top aspect works for me. It’s like June Cleaver (or other 50’s TV mom) was told to act like the manacans were their family.

    I think what you suggest would work well too, but it would be a more serious study than what this artist intended.

  • Harry Neary

    Love these shots, both in terms of theme and execution. Her expression in some of them is priceless too.

  • MMielech

    I agree. Great execution, but, a little overacted.

  • MMielech

    She is French, you know….I’m not sure June Cleaver is well known there.

  • Andy Umbo

    I’d Marry Her in a Second, Just For Doing These…

  • cgw

    Martin Parr and Cindy Sherman’s one trick love child. The kid looks like Tavi Gevinson. Wait, it is!

    Selfies with production values? ZZZzzz.

  • Keen

    The mannequins look more real than many over-photoshopped models.

  • SavetheGoonieBirds

    How do we compliment you on the quality of your work?

  • cgw

    So lame.

  • Choen Lee

    brilliant and funny.

  • Mark O’Brien

    these are really hilarious.

  • Laura Babb

    “This is about unresolved issues, not art”

    Isn’t all art commentary on some issue or another? Personal or otherwise? You don’t get to decide what is art and what isn’t, the artist does.

  • lololalallll

    Seriously. The misogyny is absurd. This photographer is brilliant and I love the message.

  • Peter “Pots”

    Very witty, yet poignant (or however you spell it). I did find the humor enjoyable, yet I think two-and-a-half men “stole” the idea a while ago.

  • Steve Zimmerman

    An excellent follow-up to this would be shots of the people surrounding her as these shots were set up. Had to draw a curious crowd at times.

  • Jackson Cheese

    So brave.

  • Jackson Cheese

    Welcome to Petapixel, where the comment section is always littered with the opinions of complete morons.

  • Lee

    it is really an irony that such a fun and humor person can’t find a partner… o.0

  • anon

    Jen, didn’t you see “Lars and the real girl?”

  • Jim Macias

    Ozzie & Harriet are French?

  • Jim Macias

    Future cat lady.

  • ISO640

    Whose to say she isn’t a cat lady now. And what’s wrong with being a cat lady? I prefer cats to most people I meet.

  • ISO640

    Seems you may be projecting a bit. I don’t see how this is about anti-man issues at all. It’s more about expectations placed on women by both men and women… but mostly other women. It seems it’s her mothering that’s pressuring her to settle down because there are indeed women from a certain era that can’t fathom a woman being able to live their lives without a man. It just wasn’t done then but it certainly is now and that has nothing to do with hating men and everything to do with being self-sufficient.

  • Stefano Druetta


  • Jim Macias

    Did I say there is anything wrong with being a cat lady? It was an observation, not an indictment. I have 5 cats. Cats are great. :)

    And stop glaring over those glasses like a judgmental school marm. :P

  • Get a clue

    You do realise that misogyny is *hating* women, not being sexist or clueless.

  • A Voice for Men

    It happens to both sexes pretty much equally. I was very happily single for many years, always had pressure from my mother (who wanted grandchildren, not a daughter-in-law) and my grandmother to “settle down”. This is not unique to the female gender.

  • ISO640

    The school marm glare goes with being a cat lady! :)

  • ISO640

    Sorry, wasn’t trying to generalize, just trying to speak from my experience as a woman.

  • Broseph of Arimathea

    Are you sure your shift key won’t get jealous?

  • KarenB

    Wonderful! I enjoyed this series very much. Good for you! Original and well done!

  • Mimi

    It’s not necessary that she can’t find one, what if she doesn’t want one? People don’t HAVE to want a partner.

  • Jorge

    I wouldn’t go so far as to call her brilliant… Bored. Maybe, not brilliant please.

  • Bill

    This women seems sad in a way. The pictures were provocative. They gave me a sense of loneliness, melancholia and regret.

  • WKYA_Radio

    LOL I .LOVE IT!!!!