Laura Coulson Captures the Last Summer of Youth

The photographer casts her lens on a group of London-based students as they embark on their final precious post-school summer holiday

Violet wears cotton trousers by Pinko, vintage polo neck from Beyond Retro, vintage jumper from Cenci

“I wanted to focus on that specific time when everything changes,” explains Laura Coulson of her new coming-of-age story, styled by AnOther’s Chloe Grace Press for “Important decisions are made about the future, and you get to do what you want without having things dictated by a curriculum, certain situation or your parents.” An exploration of the fleeting freedom of youth – of that one precious summer when you’ve finished school, but are still yet to officially enter adulthood – is radiantly depicted in Coulson’s portraits of a group of London-based teens as they embark on those exciting, albeit anxious months that offer boundless possibilities. Here, to accompany the photographs, the students muse about their hopes and dreams for the future... 

Violet (lead image) on her summer in Berlin...
“I am so excited about summer, as I will have no responsibility to do school work, and it will be liberating to work on the projects that I actually want to work on! I’m also going to Berlin with six friends in August, and want to go to the ‘Bunker Berlin’. It is an art gallery, but formerly the Red Army held prisoners of war there in 1945, then it became the ‘hardest club in the world’ in 1992, and it hosted a giant erotic trade fair called ‘Sexperimenta’ in 1995.”

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Elektra wears cotton dress by Chanel, denim jeans by Erika Cavallini

Elektra on the books and films that changed her year...
Seeing Through Clothes by Anne Hollander completely changed my relationship with clothes and their place in art history. I found Lena Dunham’s Women’s Hour podcasts really thought-provoking – they made my tube commute less tedious; tackling patriarchy is way more inspiring than the sweaty armpits of the Northern Line. I also discovered NOWNESS’ ‘In Residence’ series, and now I dream of a cactus-filled house in Mexico.”

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Elsa wears cotton suit by Golden Goose Deluxe Brand, vintage zip-up tracksuit top by Cenci, calfskin leather shoes by AGL

Elsa on her final year at school...
“It’s been a defining year for me because I’ve really challenged the thoughts and perceptions which have held me back before, and that’s allowing me to do a lot more than I expected of myself – both inside and outside of my studies. I’ve met people who have inspired and motivated me, and I’ve surprised myself with what I can do. The hardest thing has been the pressure of exams, and also the social pressures... I deleted my Instagram account a while back because it made me miserable looking at how ‘wonderful’ everyone’s life was all the time. It’s just not real, and I had to get out of that cycle.”

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Georgie wears cotton shirt and wool trousers by Jacquemus, glazed calf leather sandals by Louis Vuitton

Georgie on finding her own way...
“Alongside my A-Levels and independent work, I also completed a special foundation course at Central Saint Martins this year. It taught me to not be afraid – to embrace my odd upbringing and all of the bizarre, incredible individuals and events that have led me to this point. There is never a right or a wrong way... There is a quote in German that my father always says, “Viele Wege führen nach Rom.” It means that there are a lot of ways to get to where you’re going; as long as you follow your path, you have nothing to fear.”

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Lily [left] wears long silk dress by Ilaria Nistri, cotton T-shirt by Sunspel. Aoife [right] wears bodysuit and cotton trousers by Erika Cavallini

Aoife on her evolving dreams...
“I feel like my dreams change every day! One moment I would love to have my own theatre company, the next I would like to be teaching, and I’ve always wanted to learn more about the technical side of theatre – things like costume and lighting. But my big dream is to become a successful actress, to work across all mediums... Film, theatre, TV. It all just really excites me and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

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Theo wears cotton and silk scarf by Faliero Sarti, vintage wool cardigan from House of Vintage, T-shirt model’s own

Theo on the looming responsibilities of adulthood...
“I’m feeling pretty conflicted about this summer. I’m excited to be finishing exams and have the freedom to go travelling around Europe, but summer also means the end of school and, in some ways, that’s quite scary. There are a lot of people who I see every day who I won’t see anywhere nearly as much of, and probably quite a few I’ll never see again. Also, I’m going to have a lot more responsibilities – things like cooking for myself and not fucking up my life – which is a bit daunting.”

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Vida wears cotton dress by Molly Goddard, techno cady trousers by Sfizio

Vida on the Bloomsbury Marxist Revolution of 2016...
“I don’t really have a long-term dream; I never want to stop writing and I want to keep on reading and doing interesting things, but I don’t really mind what. Maybe something political, maybe activism or journalism or maybe poetry. As long as I’m writing, and not starving, I’ll be fine. The dream is somewhere between recreating the Bloomsbury set and orchestrating a Marxist feminist revolution. Maybe both.”

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Zara wears nylon polo shirt by Miu Miu, cotton shirt by Erika Cavallini, techno cady trousers by Sfizio, leather shoes by Acne Studios

Zara on a future in feminist film...
“I’m hoping to go into the film industry when I’m older; there’s something about film which excites me because it can be anything you want it to be. I want to be part of the process of producing films that leave an impact... and it’s a heavily male-dominated industry and, being a proud feminist, my determination to equalise the industry has grown a lot over the past few years. Some of the facts really shock me; I recently read that, in 2014, out of the top 250 films less than 7% had female directors. Personally, I’m not going to let these figures undermine me. I have goals in life that I intend to reach – my gender shouldn’t ever limit me in any way.”

Photography assistants Bressan Pierom, Lloyd Ramos; Stylist assistants Rebecca Perlmutar, Natalie Ohanessyan, Sophie Hepp; Hair Kiyoko Odo; Make-up Celia Burton at CLM Hair & Makeup using Nars Cosmetics; Make-up assistant Laura Webb.