Teenagers are fresh to life experience and often too young to make adult decisions. Yet they try their best to find their own way; especially in the realm of romance. The intense emotion that happens within these relationships is a major part of growing up. “Portraits of a Generation” is a project about the adolescent experience of dating in contemporary American culture.
I was inspired to do this project because my younger sister is starting to date. She and her boyfriend are so careful to hide their physical affection around other people, but are clearly comfortable when they think no one is watching. They tiptoe around the idea of labeling themselves as “dating”, although they spend all their time together. This sort of indefinable relationship can be stressful because of the ambiguity. My sister feels that she could be with him forever, but she met him too early in life. This conflict of inexperience and adult expectation can cause stress, confusion, and anxiety. This is drama, this is intrigue, and this is young intense love.
In photographing teenage couples I am documenting part of the human experience. I believe that many people will be able to relate to this project. Young love, first love, and adolescence in general has a common thread that connects everyone.
Harold B. Lee Library did not find some of the contents of this project appropriate to exhibit on BYU campus. If you would like to see the show in its intended form, please visit chauntevaughn.com.
— Chaunté Vaughn 2008