19 February 2021

Deanna Templeton: Teen Angst Before Tumblr

The Cali photographer's latest project 'What She Said' casts an empathetic light on the struggles of adolescent girls.

High school is supposed to be the best years of your life, right? Wrong, at least if Deanna Templeton’s latest offering, photobook What She Said, is anything to go by. Stitching together candid street photography of punks, goths and emos — teenager girls who reminded the artist of herself at a younger age — with graphic diary entries from her own troubled adolescence, its a reminder of the very real pain and confusion that goes hand in hand with youth. 

The photographer, known for earlier work such as The Swimming Pool or Scratch My Name on Your Arm, shot these portraits in US, Europe, Australia and Russia, discovering that teen misery is a thread uniting many young women, regardless of the locale. Placing these snapshots alongside a younger Deanna’s painful thoughts of self-hate and, even, suicide in the 1980s, we’re reminded that this issue is also intergenerational: teenagers have long suffered with their mental health, even before we as a society learned the language to confront this.  

Yet, with a title paying homage to The Smiths, vintage gig flyers littered throughout its pages and the ubiquitous band tees of Deanna’s subjects, the importance of music is continually emphasised throughout What She Said. A lifeline for many in hard times, music and art more generally can provide the connection that we, as an ever isolated society, so crave. Let’s just hope that What She Said can do just that for the teenage girls for whom the struggles depicted by Deanna are all too familiar. 

What She Said can be purchased via Mack Books here. 

  • Cover image What She Said (2021) © Deanna Templeton. Courtesy of Mack Books

Related Content