Street photographer Amy Touchette captured images of teenagers from New York, Oahu, Hawaii and Tokyo. Amy Touchette | Courtesy Photo

“Teenagers are raw adults,” New York-based writer and street photographer Amy Touchette said. “I just find them sort of interesting in their state of life because they are just embarking on adulthood.”

After walking around the streets of New York, Touchette was inspired by teenage style and began her photo series “The Young Series,” on display at the University Art Gallery in Walter F. Dexter Building (building 34) until March 16.

Touchette has written many articles about photography. Her writing led her to interviewing Cal Poly photography professor Sky Bergman about her film “Lives Well Lived,” a documentary showcasing the wisdom of 75 to 100-year-olds, which recently premiered at the Palm Theatre.

Bergman kept in contact with Touchette and  connected her with the University Art Gallery to show her work. Touchette gave a lecture prior to the opening of her show Feb 22. 

“The Young Series”

“The Young Series” was shot with a Rolleiflex and highlights teenagers from New York City, Oahu, Hawaii and Tokyo.

Touchette’s project originally began as “New York Young,” a series capturing New York teens. It was published in the New York Times.  Afterwards, Touchette expanded upon the project, creating “The Young Series.”

“Teenagers [have] this incredible mix of being savvy and, at the same time, were vulnerable and I was sort of transfixed by that hybrid nature of theirs. And I feel like it’s more heightened in a place like New York City,” Touchette said.  

Touchette chose Oahu and Tokyo to expand her series because these cities, like New York City, are what she referred to as island locations.

“[Each location has] their own distinct personality, which was part of the reason why I chose them.” Touchette said. “These island locations— even though the world is globalized— they had very sequestered populations for a while, so as a result, have very unique customs and cultures.”

To capture the true essence of teenagers and their culture, Touchette walked around looking for a subject who she felt embodied fashion and style unique to their location. She then would ask them for permission to photograph them, allowing the teens to pose themselves, only asking that they all look at the camera.  

“My hope is that the experience of viewing the images is not just edifying that in that we are all in this together but that it’s just enjoyable like time travel without having to leave the campus,” Touchette said.

According to University Art Gallery employee and art and design junior Riley Chapman, the show is unique in its style and presentation.

“It’s a really refreshing photography show. It’s not like studio or portraiture, it’s not traditional photography. I think street photography is definitely very contemporary right now. It’s such a different process from traditional technique,” Chapman said.

Chapman, who helped set up the gallery, said Touchette purposefully grouped certain photographs together, so that the viewers may draw upon the similarities and differences of teenage culture across the globe.

“My main [point] was to show how similar teenagers are across those three locations and that’s part of the reason I put them into groups. I wanted viewers to feel compelled to draw those comparisons and the contrast,” Touchette said.

Correction: A previous version of this story had the word rolodex in the fifth paragraph. It has been changed to Rolleiflex. 

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