Sandy beaches, idyllic mountains, and under water scenes. Not what you expect in prisons. However, that is exactly what Los Angeles-based artist Alyse Emdur has found. Intrigued by an old photo from her brother's stint in the pen, Emdur has slowly worked on a new book, Prison Landscapes, that collects photos from visiting hours and other staged photo shoots.

Often painted by the inmates, the backdrops employed minimize the institutional elements of the prison and turn some spaces into de facto portrait studios. Emdur's investigation reveals a under examined aspect of the artistic life of inmates, and a fascinating story in the history of American photography as well.

Prison Landscapes is published by Four Corners Books.

[via Creative Review]