For the last decade of the twentieth century, Pam Francis’s portraits graced covers of magazines such as this one, capturing subjects as disparate and accomplished as Beyoncé, Michael Dell, Lyle Lovett, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Ann Richards. In many of her photographs, Texas itself peeks into the frame, appearing in the form of the Houston skyline, Texas Stadium, an aged gas pump, or the wing of a Southwest airplane. Consumed together, Francis’s works read like so many well-lit variations on a theme: what, exactly, does a Texan look like? Francis, a Houstonian by birth, helped take the notion of a “Texan” to the national stage, contributing to a larger cultural understanding of our state and the people in it. In addition to her subject matter, Francis is lauded for her mastery of the craft of photography; her use of light and color earned her comparisons to Annie Leibovitz, while her knack for posing subjects naturally bridged the media of portraiture and photojournalism.
Now, for the first time, the photographer’s work from her most prolific era will be exhibited in her hometown, at the Blaffer Art Museum, from April 19–26, 2022. Below is a selection from Francis’s Texas.