Pin It
Molly, Leslie, Jen (1985-1986)
Photography Karen Marshall

Karen Marshall captures NYC teens’ 30 years of friendship, love, and loss

Between Girls began by immortalising the Upper West Side world of the charismatic teenager Molly Brover and her girlfriends, but continued long after her tragic death

In 1985, photographer Karen Marshall met Molly Brover – a “bright, exuberant 16-year-old high school junior”. Drawn to the charismatic teenager, Marshall asked if she could document the lives of Molly and her friends in New York City. “Enthusiastic to show me her Upper West Side girl world, Molly agreed,” Marshall tells Dazed. “I was soon privy to her ever-rotating group of girlfriends, spending time with the teenagers on a regular basis and documenting the everyday rituals of their friendship.”

Becoming an auxiliary part of their gang, Marshall joined the girls as they hung out in NYC, riding the subway, and gathering at whichever friend’s apartments happened to be free. Capturing private moments in the intense friendships of these fiercely independent Upper West Side latchkey kids, Marshall planned to document the emotional bonds we create at this formative time. But the photographs took on a new and poignant significance when Marshall’s muse, Molly Brover, was tragically killed by a car accident only ten months after their first meeting. 

“I resolved to keep the project going,” Marshall says. “I knew that Molly would remain 17, while the rest of them would become women, and that break in continuity among the girls inspired me to continue to document them in various ways over the years to come.”

Inspired to continue taking pictures of Molly’s friends, Marshall photographed the girls for the next 30 years of their lives, until a point came when she felt it was a natural conclusion to this four-decade-long project. Having once been an outside observer, her role in the group changed as the years passed. She explains, “My role as a photographer changed over time as I became the one to create opportunities for them to see each other, to ask the questions, and drive the narrative.” 

Between Girls is the new book published by Kehrer Verlag which gathers together nearly 200 of Marshall’s photographs of Molly and her friends. Due for release in October this year, it’s still possible to support this special project on Kickstarter. Along with signed copies of the book, limited edition prints, and special bookmarks, rewards also include the digital download of Molly Mix Tape – a cassette tape discovery that was recorded off a record player, complete with the unique record player dust noise.

Below, Karen Marshall takes us through the mesmerising pictures of Molly Brover – immortalised at the tender age of 17 – and her best friends. 

Karen Marshall’s Between Girls is published by Kehrer Verlag and available to pre-order on Kickstarter now