PROJECT Statement

During a Purity Ball young girls promise to “live pure lives before God” and to remain virgins until marriage. In return, their fathers sign a commitment promising to protect their daughters’ chastity. Sometimes rings are exchanged as a symbol of their vows. David Magnusson has photographed and interviewed young girls and their fathers who have participated in Purity Balls in Louisiana, Colorado and Arizona. 

"When I first heard about the Purity Balls I imagined angry American fathers terrified of anything that might hurt their daughters or their honor. But as I learnt more, I understood that the fathers, like all parents, simply wanted to protect the ones that they love – in the best way they know how. It was also often the girls themselves that had taken the initiative to attend the balls. They had made their decisions out of their own conviction and faith, in many cases with fathers who didn’t know what a Purity Ball was before being invited by their daughters.

The more I learned, the more I was surprised that I had been so quick to judge people I knew so little about. I was struck by the idea that what set us apart wasn’t anything more than how we had been influenced by the culture we grew up in and the values it had instilled in us. In Purity I wanted to create portraits so beautiful that the girls and their fathers could be proud of the pictures in the same way they are proud of their decisions – while someone from a different background might see an entirely different story in the very same photographs.

To me, Purity is a project about trying to understand how we are shaped by the society we grow up in and how we interpret the world through the values we incorporate as our own."

The book Purity was published by Bokförlaget Max Ström in 2014 during the exhibition at Fotografiska – The Swedish Museum of Photography in Stockholm, and is available for order at Amazon. More about David Magnusson on

Purity was financed by the Swedish Committee of the Arts and was awarded The Scanpix Grant, Sweden, 2011, Portrait of the Year Sweden, 2012, The Documentary Photography Award, Sweden, 2013, and was selected by Markus Schaden for The Kassel Book Award - Best Books Of The Year in 2014. It has been featured in international media such as TIME Magazine, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Der Spiegel, Stern, BBC, Los Angeles Times and The Daily Mail.


David Magnusson (b. 1983) lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden. He studied at the Nordic School of Photography Biskops-Arnö with Anna Clarén, Anders Petersen, and Thomas Wågström as mentors. In addition to his projects, he works as a freelance photographer for clients such as Save the Children, TIME Magazine and Svenska Dagbladet.

David has received awards and honors from The Swedish Arts Committee, The Swedish Authors Fund, Picture of the Year International, Picture of the Year Sweden, as well as being selected for the World Press Photo Masterclass.

His first monograph Purity was published by Max Ström in March 2014 during the exhibition at Fotografiska, The Swedish Museum of Photography, in Stockholm. Purity has received several awards and has been featured in international media such as TIME Magazine, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Der Spiegel, Stern, La Repubblica, BBC, and The Daily Mail.

David Magnusson is represented by Pictura Gallery in the United States.


All images, text and material Copyright © David Magnusson 2010-2014. Images only for publication in articles or reviews about the book and exhibition Purity by David Magnusson, published by Bokförlaget Max Ström, 2014 and may not be used in any way without specific written permission directly from the author or the publisher. The images may not be cropped, changed or altered in any way. Not for use in illustrative purposes of any kind.