Everything changes when we enter adolescence. Suddenly, we find ourselves confronting questions like, “Who am I?” and “Where am I heading in life?” Despite our different backgrounds, this emotional rollercoaster is shared by everyone. Foregrounding the experiences of teenagers across Johannesburg, South Africa, photographer Victor Marvillet is exposing the one thing that connects us all – our dreams.
Growing up, Marvillet developed a deep interest in the documentation of everyday life. “I started using photography as a tool to tell narratives to help me understand the world,” he says. Soon, Marvillet’s passion propelled him into prestigious studios around the globe. But after toiling with his own identity as an adult, he packed his bags and journeyed to Johannesburg to capture stories that spoke to the ubiquitous struggle of self-exploration.
From a boy entering manhood in Soweto to a young horse rider galloping into the unknown, Marvillet’s photo series Islands follows the lives of youth as they come to grips with growing up. “I wanted to address the similarity of emotion that all teenagers go through despite the challenges that they face in their separate communities,” he says. With each teen framed in their relative environments, the intimate portraits call on viewers to focus on this time of uncertainty and hope that shapes us.
Through these coming-of-age snapshots, Marvillet has shed light on our diversity while revealing the emotional turmoil we all grapple with. “I want to remind people that they were a teenager once,” he says. Developing the lives of these dreamers, Marvillet has brought us closer to ourselves.