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[The Guardian] The big picture: summer camp goodbyes
by The Guardian « on: July 07, 2020, 01:13:33 AM »




The big picture: summer camp goodbyes

Mark Steinmetz’s pre-Instagram pictures show American teenagers and children at camp experiencing their first taste of independence

For about 10 years from 1986 Mark Steinmetz photographed children at American summer camps. He taught photography to the kids, but he also captured those moments when children discovered the strangeness and possibility of independence for the first time. Summers in bunk beds and cabins and woods stretched ahead of them, communal and lonely by turns. Part of the photographer’s motivation was to recapture the intensity of the periods he had spent away from his own family as a boy.

His pictures are from different camps and different years but they share an emotional trajectory. The children arrive singly, clutching sleeping bags, they slowly overcome fears in ritualised games and campfire bonding, and they leave changed. In this picture the time away is coming to a close. The bus is waiting to return teenagers to the routine of home and school and TV. But as Steinmetz’s says: “Even if they’re miserable and bitching to one another throughout, by the end they’re like: ‘Oh my God, this is ending, you’re my best friend, and this has been the most intense thing I’ve ever done in my life!’”

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