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Olivia Bee Is Here To Stay

A 15-year-old American Photographer who documents her friends and family

At the age of just 15, Olivia Grace Bolles from Portland, Oregon, USA, has shot distinctive documentary pictures of her teenage friends and family for the likes of Converse and Nike, and had her work featured in Seventeen, Frankie and American Photo magazine. Olivia Bee, as she is commonly known, started to take pictures almost accidentally when she was forced to study photography instead of video production, which she had signed up for in sixth grade. It wasn't until the summer before her freshman year that she really fell in love with photography and it was the confusion and chaos of growing up that caused her to start recording what was going on around her. “I realised that I could document my feelings, and things that take place in my life through a camera,” she says. ”The tangibility and the immediacy just appealed to me so much.”

Bee’s pictures are a raw and honest description of her life, showing herself and friends going through the sometimes hazy, uncomfortable and occasionally, almost delirious, experience of teenage life. “I'm inspired by the people around me – the interactions between my friends, and the interaction between people and nature,” she says, adding with a knowing slant, “but mostly just being a teenager is the greatest creative fuel for me”. Citing Ryan McGinley as her main inspiration, Olivia’s photos are like a beautifully shot diary – a way for her to remember this period of time, and how it felt. “I’m really bad with words, so I use pictures,” she says. “Seeing photos of my parents when they were young was pretty inspiring, and it made me have this huge desire to have these really beautiful memories. I make my photographs for me, it’s my diary, truly, and I want these images to document everything that is happening now, because these are memories that I know I don’t want to lose”.

Celebrating a year of creativity Converse presents a series of their favourite new artists from around the world. Find out more about how to enter the Converse/DAZED 2010 Emerging Artists Award »
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