The Morgan Ortons at the Beach, 1998
Since my earliest days as a photographer I have aimed my camera at subjects closest to me. Photographing husband Mark’s brother’s family, the Morgan Ortons, has been one of my longest-term projects. For twenty-two years, over the course of a few weekends each year and an annual week at the beach for sixteen of them, I have been making portraits of mom Meredith Morgan, dad Edward Orton, and their children, Parker Morgan Orton and Maggie Morgan Orton.
If asked, I would have described the first few years of the series as a chronicle of the upward trajectory of a family of bright (two PhDs in chemistry, two high-achiever children), energetic, quirky and loving people. As the older sister of a severely physically disabled girl with spina bifida, it no longer surprises me that families such as the Morgan Ortons have always held a special attraction for me, representing my idealized dream of what family life could be.
However, in 2003, when Parker was nine and Maggie was seven, over a period of a few months, something so unpredictable, so destructive, and so heartbreaking happened that the trajectory of the family’s narrative changed: Parker was diagnosed with Childhood Onset Schizophrenia (COS).
Where does one go from there? I have photographed the Morgan Orton family through their journey, making this the portrait of a family cruising along, a family clobbered by a treacherous childhood illness and a family moving forward.
**NOTE: The photographs in this presentation focus on the relationship between Ed and Parker - early and later years. I am working on a book, "The Morgan Ortons: through my lens" that is a far more accurate depiction of the four unique individuals who make up the Morgan Orton Family.
At the Beach, Early Days
At the DC Zoo
Bubble Gum Cigar with Ed and Uncle Mark
Daily chess match. Parker was NJ State Champion (3rd pl) for Third Graders
Life Has Changed for the Morgan Ortons, 2005
At first, delusions were continuous
Juggling - Last Summer At the Beach
Playful and Very Close
The Future is Unknown