Spotlight: Sandra Chen Weinstein's "Transcend" Series On the LGBTQ Community

By David Schonauer   Tuesday June 16, 2020

"This is a story of relationships but most importantly, love.”

That is how photographer Sandra Chen Weinstein begins the artist’s statement for her series “Transcend.” Weinstein describes the project as “a collection of portraits and stories of people and their loved ones, families or chosen families, including my own, from a diverse LGBTQ community which constantly struggles for equality and acceptance.” The work was recently name winner of CENTER’S Director’s Choice Award and has been selected for the American Photography 36 annual. Below, Weinstein describes the project:

My adult child came out recently as queer, transgender, non-binary at age 28 and uses the pronoun they,” she wrote in a note. “They have never demonstrated being different physically and psychologically towards other spectrum of gender. I was surprised by this revelation of their identity. Another source of inspiration came from close friends who are gay and the project I had been doing on American Pride since 2009.

The project "Transcend" has developed and was inspired by my child as our bond of family and going through these changing since the beginning, their newly expressed identity. Unlike the other work I have done, this one is very personal and intimate to me and other LGBTQ family, it’s about relationship and importantly love. These photographs I portray is from family’s viewpoint, stories of struggle, acceptance. I have chances to meet some of the family in LGBTQ community mainly in San Francisco and Bay area when my child is living and teaching in UCSF. 

Since I started in mid-2016, I was able to meet through word-of-mouth via friends and photograph more families with loved ones usually in their living space. The series of images are also displayed with their own quotes and stories about themselves and their loved ones. Due to the nature of intimacy and out of my respect, I have to work according to the subject’s time and convenience, thus, it is a time consuming and labor of love.

"Ethan and Cami"

"Lee and Me"

Weinstein says that one of the most memorable shoots happened shortly she was attacked by a neighbor’s dog and suffered a crippling injury to my foot.  Here she describes the shoot:

My subject lived on a houseboat that was docked at a marina. My injury required that I use crutches and I did not have a wheel chair. So, to access the boat moored out in the marina, I had to negotiate stairs down to the docks and then a series walk over docks. The distance proved too great for me to travel on crutches. So my subject suggested one of the wheeled carts available at the dock to tote luggage and sundries. It was just big enough sit in but it tilted when pulled so it was awkward to ride. My assistant pulled me and my gear like this over the long distance to the subject’s boat. Finally, climbing the tight stairs on crutches up to the boat, being lifted across the open water to the deck, and navigating passage below ship, I was able to photograph with one crutch and camera on free hand on the moving sea. It was worth it and took a team effort to make it happen.

"Alejandro and Alexander"


Weinstein’s “Transcend” project will go on view at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe. Oct. 14.
and is online exhibition at
At top: "Barbara and Jess"


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