Being a teenager is hard work. No longer a child and yet not quite yet grown up, the cusp of adulthood is a place fraught with all sorts of growing pains. These three photographers capture the everyday hopes and fears of adolescence.

Luo Yang, Xiao Jie, 2019. From the series Youth. Courtesy the artist
Luo Yang, Xiao Jie, 2019. From the series Youth. Courtesy the artist

During the current Coronavirus crisis, we are publishing one article per week online from our latest Spring issue. It is also available to read in full via the Elephant app, or a physical copy can be ordered directly from our online store

Growing up is never easy. Teenage years are a time of new thrills, personal (and political) awakening and a healthy dose of awkwardness. These pleasures and pains make coming of age a ripe subject for artists and photographers around the globe, where the shared strands of human experience connect. Luo Yang has been shooting young men and women in Beijing and Shanghai for a decade. Her often androgynous subjects assert themselves in her portraits, looking straight to the lens. These are authentic snapshots of their lives, a world away from the straight-laced image that continues to shape Western preconceptions of China.

“Teenage years are a time of new thrills, personal (and political) awakening and a healthy dose of awkwardness”

Mohamed Bourouissa’s portraits of young people in the outskirts of Paris take a more formal approach. The Algerian- born artist’s Périphérique series looks like photo reportage but it is in fact carefully staged, like a tableau vivant. He creates emotionally charged mise-en-scène in opposition to the way that images are often constructed in the media. British photographer Neil Drabble narrows his focus to one American teenager, Roy, in images taken between 1998 and 2005. Drabble’s series captures the everyday reality of adolescence in America, but also the deeper hopes and fears that characterize coming of age—no matter where you are in the world.

 

 

 

The Elephant Spring issue is available to read in full via the Elephant app, or a physical copy can be ordered directly from our online store.

READ NOW
Don't miss out.
Get the latest from Elephant straight to your inbox and 10% off your first purchase.
Sign me up!
You can unsubscribe anytime.
close-link