Claiborne Swanson Frank kept pushing aside her desire to be a photographer. Once she decided to pursue photography, however, she discovered her gift. Next month marks the release of her first book, American Beauty, published by Assouline.
Swanson Frank lived in Naples until she was five, where her father, W. Clarke Swanson Jr. of the Swanson frozen prepared foods fame, ran a media business. After he sold the business, the family moved to London. In 1985, he purchased land for a winery in Napa Valley, where Swanson Frank grew up. After studying fashion and working as a fashion buyer and manager in California, Swanson Frank moved to New York at age 26 to work as a fashion stylist. “I loved photography, but I feared I wasn’t good enough,” she says. Within 10 months of arriving in New York, she was engaged to James Frank and working as an assistant to Vogue editor in chief, Anna Wintour.
In 2007, Sawnson Frank began photographing her friends and sisters to build her portfolio. The series of 29 portraits, called “Indigo Light,” led to a show at Akris in New York during Fashion Week, and her next project. “I got a book deal with less than a year of shooting,” she says. “For the past two years I’ve been shooting 120 women in art, fashion, interior design and business.”
Even as her career takes off, Sawnson Frank returns to the family home in Naples for holidays. “There are so many wonderful memories in Naples that are special to my family,” she says.