I bet most of us can remember a time when we were young, bright-eyed and full of hopes and dreams for the future. Of course, I’m talking about when we were just children and our imaginations ran wild and everything and anything seemed possible.
I remember imagining myself in all kinds of scenarios as a child. I loved to play with my Matchbox or Hot Wheels cars, pushing them around on the floor of my room with my hands while imagining myself inside them, driving. And of course there were the games of hide-and-seek with my friends from the neighborhood, or getting together and riding bikes. Childhood can be such a special time. And one that we can look back fondly on as we get older.
Swedish photographer Simon Johansson’s newest book, “The Young Ones” (journal, 2019), celebrates that time in our lives. The book’s black-and-white photos are themselves wistful, nostalgic depictions of childhood. We see children, well, being children: They do cartwheels, play with their dogs, peer out windows, go to parties and play with their friends. These are most of the things children all around the world do, although these particular photos were mostly made of children living in Europe.
Johansson made the images in “The Young Ones” over 17 years, from 2002-to 2019. The documentary photos were taken in Stockholm; Oland, Sweden; Kivik, Sweden; Ostersund, Sweden; Bucharest, Romania; Rome; and Ciudad Colón, Costa Rica. When he approached In Sight with this work, this is what Johansson said about it:
In this series I want to show a world that belongs to the children. A world in a world. A place where children are on their own. A world where they themselves play all the leading roles, trying different identities before becoming self aware. They live in the borderlands between fantasy and reality. I’ve visited a world that I myself once belonged to.
I imagine that many of us, having hit adulthood and acquired all the trappings and responsibilities that come with it, long for a time when we were more unfettered. I know I do. And I appreciate the opportunity to remember a time when that was true. The photos in “The Young Ones” help me do that, and maybe they can help you recapture that magical time of life, too.
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