Too Hot to Handle: 12 Photo Stories That Capture the Spirit of Summer

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Ensemble by David Luraschi
Ensemble by David Luraschi© David Luraschi 2021 courtesy Loose Joints

Dive into these sun-soaked photo stories – from 1970s beaches and 1990s raves, to the dancefloors of Ibiza and the lush Polish countryside

Prince Street by Maxime Imbert and Cristina Firpo

Shot in a house in Eltham, south-east London, photographer Maxime Imbert and stylist Cristina Firpo’s nostalgic zine Prince Street tells the story of four girls on their summer holidays, whiling away the hours at home. Evoking a sense of pleasant idleness specific to early girlhood, with its lengthy summer holidays, the series was inspired by Susan Meiselas’ seminal Prince Street Girls series, which explores similar themes in 1970s New York.

Ensemble by David Luraschi

Created in collaboration with designer and friend Simon Porte Jacquemus, David Luraschi’s sensual photo book Ensemble captures dancers Claire Tran and Paul Girard nude in the wild salt flats of the Camargue, documenting them as they tenderly embrace, mingle, and merge with the area’s natural surroundings.

No System by Vinca Petersen

First published in 1999, and returned to once more in 2020, artist Vinca Petersen’s cult book No System provides an enthralling and intimate look into her years spent on the road in the 1990s, when she travelled through Europe raving to acid house. “I remember, even back in 1998 when I was 25 and putting No System together, I wanted it to be a kind of brochure for an alternative way of living,” Petersen told AnOther last year. 

The City and All It Holds by Roni Ahn

London-based, Hong Kong-born photographer Roni Ahn’s gentle debut book meditates on the relationships that keep us going. Shot last year in Hong Kong after city-wide lockdowns – and through the lens of political upheaval and violence the city has seen in recent years – the book celebrates the power of friendship when the world is falling apart. “I think it’s the relationships that are the most vital when things are tough,” she told AnOther in May.

Sweeteens by Laura Jane Coulson

Not dissimilar to the current weather here in the UK, Laura Jane Coulson’s uplifting book Sweeteens was shot during a heatwave in London in May 2020, just as restrictions were relaxing for the first time. Something of a love letter to the days of youth, freedom, and London’s green spaces, the hopeful pages of Sweetens capture young people coming together once more after months spent apart.

IBIZA ’89 by Dave Swindells

Few photo books of recent times capture the euphoric potential of summer better than Dave Swindells’s IBIZA ’89. Providing an electrifying portrait of Ibiza on the cusp of the rave era, the title is a heady immersion into the island’s searing Mediterranian sun and hot summer nights, with its ecstatic parties and carefree revellers. “Do people need reminding that another life is possible? Probably not, but this book is an antidote to locked-down Britain,” the photographer told us last year.

Hola Mi Amol by Karla Hiraldo Voleau

French-Dominican photographer Karla Hiraldo Voleau’s photo series Hola Mi Amol was shortlisted for Aperture’s First PhotoBook Award in 2019. Subverting the phenomenon of ‘sex tourism’, Voleau travelled to Santo Domingo – the island’s capital, where she spent summers growing up – to photograph sex, love, and the relationships between men and women. “I was intrigued by these foreign white women who come to the Caribbean to have this escape, this tropical love story, and wanted to impersonate one,” Hiraldo Voleau told AnOther at the time.

Summer, Farewell by Joanna Wzorek

London-based Polish photographer Joanna Wzorek spent lockdown longing for the lush, green countryside where she spent summers as a child, back in Poland. Once borders opened once more in the summer of 2020, she flew back to her homeland to “take all these feelings and put it into some sort of body of work.” The result, published this July, is a sun-soaked zine exalting Polish summertime and the rich natural beauty of the country, featuring portraits of friends, farmyard animals, and unposed nudes. 

Love’s Labour by Sergio Purtell

Published in 2020, Sergio Purtell’s romantic photo book is the result of travelling to Europe, year after year, in the summers of the 1970s and 80s. Offering a sensual portrait of European summer, its languid pages are awash with dreamy scenes of scorching days and endless nights spent in the cities and beaches of France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

The Smell of Calpol On A Warm Summer’s Night by Scarlett Carlos Clarke

A palpable sense of heat radiates from Scarlett Carlos Clarke’s latest series, The Smell of Calpol On A Warm Summer’s Night, though it is not a pleasant one: the suffocating works – which feature mostly pregnant women, isolated in sticky, dimly-lit rooms – explore the concept of domestic anxiety and the often-stifling intensity of new motherhood.

Speak The Wind by Hoda Afshar

Hoda Afshar’s MACK-published title Speak the Wind tells the fabled story of the islands in the Strait of Hormuz, off the southern coast of Iran, where there is a local belief that the winds have the power to possess people. Full of mysticism, beauty, and respect for the area’s history and rituals – there it is believed the supernatural wind is linked the Arab slave trade, and the islands’ inhabitants perform to its gusts with drum music and poetry  – Afshar’s sensitive title aims to form a record of the invisible.

Spiralled by Seana Gavin

Visual artist Seana Gavin spent the 1990s immersed in Europe’s underground rave scene – travelling from country to country partying and living the life of a nomad. Photographs from this carefree period of her life are gathered in her 2020 book, Spiralled. “The book takes you on a journey of emotions through that period in my life,” she told AnOther at the time. “I hope it captures the sense of community, adventure and freedom that embodied that scene.”