David Magnusson, ‘Rose Smoak 16 years, & Randall Smoak. Dixie, Louisana’, Pictura Gallery

“When I first heard about the Purity Balls I imagined American fathers terrified of anything that might hurt their daughters or their families 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 first 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 about how we are shaped by the society in which we grow up and how we interpret the world through the values we incorporate as our own.”

  • David Magnusson

Series: PURITY

I’ve always wanted to remain pure but it really meant a lot to
me to actually go and make the vows, it really gets into your
heart even deeper whenever you say those vows aloud. I made
a vow that I would remain pure in body and in mind and my
dad made a vow that he would protect me and that he would
guide me when I’m growing up until I marry.
Purity to me is not just purity in body but also purity of
mind and heart. It’s about keeping your mind and heart on
things that are positive and that are things of God, things that
are holy and pure. It’s saving yourself not only in body, but in
every way, for the one you’re going to marry.
I don’t think that my decision to remain pure is accepted or
encouraged in our culture or among people my age. But my
church friends and my home school friends understand it, and
we encourage each other. I was fortunate enough to be raised
in a family that encourage me towards purity and support my
My vows to Rose are to live a pure life in front of her as an
example and to train her, to teach her, to encourage her in her
decisions and to protect her. I’m standing there to protect her
against anything that would come against her that would put
her purity at risk. I’m the protector for that.
Purity is a way of life, it’s how you’re thinking, it’s how
you’re keeping yourself pure from worldly influences. We’re
taught in the Bible about pure life, living a life that’s pleasing
to God. It goes to a lot of things such as how you treat your
body, what’s in your mind, what you’re thinking about, and
the way you treat your fellow persons.
My experiences at the Purity Ball was seeing all the other
people, the girls and their fathers, that were interested in
a pure life, knowing that it meant that the girls would not
be giving themselves to someone before they’re married. It’s
encouraging to know that there are other people that really do
have that desire for their family.

About David Magnusson