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Natalia Shlyakhovaya
Photography Natalia Shlyakhovaya

How do we immortalise our youth?

This photographer is capturing the stolen moments of freedom before impending adulthood

When asked what youth means to her, photographer Natalia Shlyakhovaya observes: “The differences, the wind, sun-scorched grass, gravel, dusty roads, broken knees, cotton dress, drafts, anxious chords, crackling cigarettes, thistle, punk – the time to experiment and discover.”

These little details pick a trail through her work, Reflections and Alex, as she seeks to capture the different stages of our lives before impending adulthood. In a dreamy, saturated haze, Shlyakhovaya illustrates the bizarre, wild, and intimate moments of youth.

“In these series I poeticise the authenticity and freedom of youth, and place the characters in wild, savage, sun-scorched days,” she explains.

Reflections is a muted exploration of little stolen moments, wandering through final days of freedom. Hazy nights are spent with friends, or pondering the sky; sequins and leather clash with plastic, neon stickers. Alex focuses on a friend’s journey to Cyprus, with an inquisitive, wide-eyed lens. Shlyakhovaya quotes The Magus, by John Fowles, when describing her time there: “It was like a journey into space. I was standing on Mars, knee-deep in thyme, under a sky that seemed never to have known dust or cloud.”

Check out more of Natalia Shlyakhovaya's work here