An overarching characteristic of her heroines were those that did not follow conventional ideas of marriage and family.

sex melayu untitled-36

When asked if she considers herself to be acting in her photographs, Sherman said, “I never thought I was acting. Somehow the acting just happened.” Many of Sherman's photo series, like the 1981 Centerfolds, call attention to the stereotyping of women in films, television and magazines.

When I became involved with close-ups I needed more information in the expression. When talking about one of her centerfold pictures Sherman stated, "In content I wanted a man opening up the magazine suddenly look at it with an expectation of something lascivious and then feel like the violator that they would be looking at this woman who is perhaps a victim. Obviously I'm trying to make someone feel bad for having a certain expectation".

Frustrated with what she saw as the medium's limitations, she abandoned the form and took up photography.

"[T]here was nothing more to say [through painting]", she later recalled.

To create her photographs, Sherman shoots alone in her studio, assuming multiple roles as author, director, make-up artist, hairstylist, wardrobe mistress, and model.

Bus Riders (1976–2000) is a series of photographs that feature the artist as a variety of meticulously observed characters.

Sherman used her own possessions as props, or sometimes borrowed, as in Untitled Film Still #11 in which the doggy pillow belongs to a friend.

The shots were also largely taken in her own apartment.

Sherman is able to give the white characters she impersonates a real range of skin tones and facial features. It looked like a stale visual myth that was still in good working order." Other early works involved cutout figures, such as the Murder Mystery and Play of Selves.