For many teenagers, adolescence is a crucial period to create memories and build long-lasting friend groups with their peers. This general rite of passage, however, has been made difficult by the Covid-19 pandemic that has closed schools and limited social activities. This has made it difficult to experience the traditional teenage moments and instead, made technology an integral part of growing up. To capture what this new digital experience is like for the youth, the New York Times Special Projects team led by photo editor, Eve Lyons, put out a call for photographers to document what it looks like to come of age today.
The project entitled Where We Are, featured a dozen photographers from different parts of the world who were asked to showcase how young people are gathering and creating communities amid the pandemic. One photographer Adrian Martinez Chavez spent months capturing the 20-somethings at his family’s Mexican restaurant in a Connecticut suburb. On the other hand, Adali Schell, a B.F.A. candidate at the University of California, Los Angeles, took photographs of his friends driving to the far reaches of Los Angeles. The series also includes an article on girls in India who train in mud wrestling to gain strength despite the patriarchal society.
This series is an example of how the Special Projects team at The New York Times use features like photography, film, graphics and virtual reality to bring you stories that can truly express the moments and events that take place today. It involves collaboration between editors, designers, journalists, programmers and digital visuals experts, to create compelling stories that are told and presented in a unique way.
Eve Lyons, the photo editor for this project, is a former high school student from Rochester, New York. As a teenager she found freedom by listening to music in the car with friends, an experience she will never forget. Through this project she wanted to understand and show the changes that came with the pandemic in teenagers’ lives and create a conversation around the radical changes that it caused. Through Where We Are, she has been able to capture the struggles that teenagers have faced while growing up during the pandemic, while conveying the stories of victory and resilience.