Rachel King: Adolescence to Adulthood

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Baltimore based photographer Rachel King captures a collective coming of age spent in summer time US. Inspired by classic documentary and commonplace photographers Rachel creates a contemporary “family album” capturing her final years of adolescence. The comprehensive body of work is an ongoing documentation of the tumultuous transition periods within modern life.

Tell us more about yourself and your work.

I’m a photographer based in Baltimore, MD. I graduated from the one-year certificate program at International Centre of Photography in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography in 2014 and received my BFA from St. John’s University in 2015. I shoot mainly with film and explore ideas of youth, coming of age, and relationships through my work.

What was your creative process for this series or for your work in general?

This series has been and is an ongoing project from the last five years. Every summer, I bring my Hasselblad to Pasadena, MD where my friends vacation. I started to create a catalog of images that has become not only a nostalgic experience to look back upon, but a timeless coming of age story. I am planning on working on this project for as long as we return to the Shore House. Most of my work revolves around a specific group of people over a period of time to explore their evolution.

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What work inspires or has inspired you?

I am very inspired by the work of Sally Mann, Tamara Dean and Rania Matar. As female photographers, I am drawn to how they capture the magic of everyday life and coming of age transitional phases in young people’s lives. Lately, I have been inspired by fashion photographer, Natasha Wilson, who brings fantasy into the real world. I believe beauty and the fantastical is an escape into the possibilities of what can be.

Do you have any opinions or ideals underlying your art?

I believe everyone has magic and beauty inside them, it just takes finding their essence to let it be seen. As a photographer, I have the opportunity to show people their essence through portraiture. Photography also has the unique power to be a bridge connecting generations and different fields. I hope to give a window of understanding through my art.

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Can you tell us more about your work on the transitionary coming of age period in young adults lives within the US?

I believe it is more important than ever to photograph and tell the story of young people within the US. In today’s culture, between violence, social media, and expectations, it can be hard for a young person to navigate growing up and transitional phases. Social media has become our measurement for self worth, and when you are relying on others to tell you how to feel about yourself, your self esteem will be very low. It is important to remind everyone that we are not alone. As you are coming into who you are as your own person, you are not alone in this. Within my work photographing coming of age stories within the US, I am striving to tell a story based on friendship, exploration, acceptance and love. I strive to document the relationships of people between each other, themselves, and the world around them. If we can believe that we are not alone and that the world wants us to embrace our own essence, then we know we can get through everything that happens in our society.

How would you like to see this work progress? Within which context of art publishing would these series culminate?

I would love to see this project keep evolving as my subjects enter different stages of their lives. I imagine this work traveling to different galleries and exhibitions as well as being published in a book. I also imagine my work being a catalyst for more open discussions about coming of age and transitional phases in a person’s life. These times can be lonely but also critical in the advancement of one’s mental health as well as their relationship with the world around them and themselves. Discussions with young people along with these images would be a great way to talk about this subject.

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I can see this body of work being a catalyst for discourse on coming of age mental health, especially this subject coming from such an inside perspective. Do you have any words for aspiring artists?

Find your own essence first and then create art that is true to you. Be inspired by others work (and do your research) but create what you are drawn to, not what you think others want to see. Everything has been photographed, but not by you. You are the crucial element in your work that makes it unique! Surround yourself with all different types of people because everyone is a teacher. Finally, working as an artist can be a long road, but remember that the Universe wants you to succeed, so the energy you put into it is what you will receive.

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Is there anything you’re currently working on?

I have been photographing my family for the past five years as an ongoing project as well as projects centred on the strength and beauty of femininity. I am also working on a project with friend and business partner, Kirra Kimbrell, called Successful Wom*n being published on our online wom*n’s community, Mother Muse Co. You can see this project on mothermuseco.com