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Small Town Girl

Elize Strydom
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It’s been a decade since I was a teenager, living on the north coast of New South Wales. I swear it feels like yesterday. But so much has happened to separate me from that time, that life. I’ve completed an arts degree, been married and divorced, lived in Melbourne and Sydney, studied photo journalism in New York City, landed a job broadcasting on national radio, photographed international music festivals and hundreds of live bands as well as dozens of weddings; my mind and heart have expanded and changed beyond recognition. And yet I still feel such a strong connection to my teenage self.

This yearning, mixed with a desire to have my own memories of adolescence both validated and challenged, has given birth to ‘Small Town Girl’; a photographic exploration of life for teenage girls in regional Australia in 2012. The following selection of photos introduce you to 14 year old Jannah in Broken Hill, 15 year old Emily in Grafton, 17 year old Merryn in Byron Bay and 18 year old Savannah in Parkes.

In June, I will travel to the USA to continue the project and learn about life for teenage girls in Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon, Indiana, Maine, Mississippi and Texas. An utter fascination with teenagers – what they wear, how they feel, the language they speak, the way they see themselves – is compelling me to focus my time, money, resources and passion on telling the stories of small town girls from every corner of the globe.

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