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Collin LaFleche: Right After

A locker love-note or flirty Tweet: LaFleche's teenagers prove that some things never change

Freshly recalling his own turbulent final year of high school, photographer Collin LaFleche trained his camera lens on high school senior Will and his friends in order to capture "something that felt more poetic and elusive" than just the requisite teenage triad of drugs, drinking and sex. LaFleche affirms: "There are depictions of drugs and drinking and sex because they're part of the story, but they don't constitute the story or even a majority of it." Equally inspired by Herzog and themes of alienation, LaFleche is less interested in the obvious outward signs of youthful rebellion than what what motivates them in the first place.   

What inspired you to take Right After?

I realized that teenagers are the same everywhere that they’re exposed to Western culture. Everybody has to deal with sex and drugs and parties and trying to be cool and rebelling against authority. Being a teenager can be very exciting, sometimes frightening, but also lonely and boring. I found myself drawn to the quiet moments that I felt expressed these ideas without being sensational or melodramatic about it. 

What influences your work? 

I find the world to be surreal and terrifying in all sorts of bizarre ways. I’m fascinated by the power dynamics between humans, animals, and the environment at large. Movies that deal with these questions have influenced my work most significantly, especially Werner Herzog.

What are you trying to achieve?  

I investigate alienation through systems of representation. For example, the diptychs in Promenades look at the question of agency between the synthetic and the organic. A vending machine and a pile of fish are a stark illustration of the triviality and the incongruity of the modern condition. 

How has youth culture changed the most since you started documenting it?

The means of communication have changed the visibility of certain components of youth culture, but teenagers have been dealing with the same subjects forever. Kids flirt with their crushes on Twitter; once upon a time they dropped notes in lockers. I'm more interested in what motivates them to act in these ways, and less in the outwardly ways they express that motivation.

Has digital technology made a difference in your work at all?

I still think there is a place for film, just as there is still a place for music made by acoustic instruments. It's disappointing to me that digital photography has replaced analog in such a wholesale way. They're different mediums.

Thanks to Capricious Magazine, buy issue #14 here