"Youth is such an energetic and complicated time for anyone...It’s electric," photographer Michelle Groskopf tells Refinery29. "[Teens] tell stories in the simple details of their clothing choices, their postures, and how they are with each other. It’s also a way for me to demystify my own youth."
Driven by both a sense of nostalgia and one of optimism, Groskopf turns her lens on the young people she encounters on the streets of Los Angeles, New York, and London. When she finds someone she wants to photograph, Groskopf tries to interfere as little as possible, usually catching her subjects in a candid moment. Of course, sometimes she can't help but be noticed. "It’s fun when I approach them, because they’re always like, 'Who’s this strange mom-type lady with a camera and flash?!'"
Groskopf has found that certain aspects of the teen experience never change — the awkwardness, the churning emotions bubbling just below the surface. But, in her interactions with the Gen Z set in particular, Groskopf has noticed a few things that make them stand out and, in turn, make them particularly engrossing subjects to shoot.
"I love seeing them play with gender and early expressions of queerness. I love seeing teens embracing their bodies," she says. "That’s a huge step forward from the traditional attitudes I was raised with."
Not only does she find young people fascinating, but Groskopf says they're downright inspiring: "Young people today give me hope with their openness. They’re fighting for a lot these days. It’s gonna be up to them to turn this ship around."