The photographs, with written texts by the teens, employ a collaborative process where the subjects participate in determining their body language, facial expression, clothing, and frequently location.
I have worked with teenagers and young adults from middle school through graduate school for the last 40 years. As a result, I have come to know many amazing teens in ways that contradict the narrow and conventional visual definitions of teenagers commonly seen in a wide variety of photographic practices from advertising to the fine arts.
I thought it was important to make images that would contrast with images of teens where issues of sexual desire, perfection and inadequacy dominated. And, I wanted to avoid contributing to the notion of teens as one-dimensional, lethargic, victimized, or self-destructive.
Instead, this series of more than 130 portraits and texts support the idea that teenagers are very complex. These teenagers offer images of multi-dimensional individuals possessing character, creativity, vulnerability, strength and wisdom, in their own voices, and in participation with how they are represented.
The teens in these portraits convey a variety of attitudes, ideas and ways of being in the world. The portraits are simultaneously about their identity, their well-being, and their purpose, framed by the stated and implied cultural issues surrounding them.