Vintage: American Teenagers in 1950s Paris

Gordon Parks is an amazing vintage photographer (in addition to being a musician, writer, and film director) whose work deserves a proper post one day since to show the above images without proper caption is to discredit the more serious nature of many of his photographs. He had a unique photography career that managed to cover fashion photography, photo-essays with LIFE, and civil rights work. But recently I re-stumbled across his series capturing American teenagers studying in Paris and was once again taken by the striking and exuberant images. Parks often photographed his subjects in motion and unlike the more graceful and staged images typical of this period, in this series we see candid, documentary-style moments. "Wow, Quel Babes!" as the 1952 article was titled, is best appreciated with the original captions which can be found in this article. To me, one of the most notable facts in the accompanying essay and captions is for all the antiquated ideas it does present, how unchanged female teenage-dom seems. A group of girls in this series dubbed themselves the "Horrible Six" and while they are bonded by name they impose a strict set of rules for dress, diet, and behavior on one another. More here.


to top