A new project by California photographer Deanna Templeton reveals that while female adolescence has changed over the years, it is also so universal.

The artist’s street portraits of young Californian goths and “punks” that she photographed took her back to her troubled and exhausting adolescence, which she wrote in her diary in the 1980s. Deanna has now put the two elements together in her new photo-book What she Said.

During this time, Templeton began to lay the foundations of this project, which she had been working on for almost 20 years, taking portraits of women who caught her eye on the street and filing them in her digital archive under the title “women”.

“I’ve always photographed things that interest me. But I never realised they all had a vaguely similar appearance until I started looking closely at them. They reminded me of my youth – or at least how I wanted to look back then.”

Many of the young women in her photos have a style that mixes punk, metal and goth: rebellious teenagers endued in dyed hair, kohled eyes, ripped jeans and favorite band t-shirts!

Templeton, about how she approached young people and what she observed in general, “I often approach them and say, ‘I went to this band’s concert,’ and we start talking. For the most part, I realized that they were more confident and happy than I was at that age,” she said.

The work, named after the Smiths ‘ song of the same name, consists of Deanna Templeton’s portraits of adolescent women on the streets of the US, Europe, Australia and Russia: with ripped jeans, tights, tattoos and punk hairstyles that can be considered the “starter pack”of this transition period; in fact, young women trying to cope with this debilitating period are at the center of the study. 

Although Templeton lived a very different youth in a different environment in the 1980s; when she recalled the similar disappointments and challenges she faced as a young woman, she realized the universality of female adolescence. The book combines these modern portraits with concert posters and pages from Templeton’s unfiltered diary in the ‘ 80s .

At the beginning of the book, we encounter quite edgy diary entries. However, as we progress, we see that Deanna and the young women she photographed all over the world become more and more softer and begin to emerge from this complex period. Towards the end of the book, the tone of her diary pages suddenly changes when she first meets street photographer and skateboarder Ed Templeton. Deanna, who put their first photographs together and her feelings about it on the book:

“We’ve been together for 30 years, but I was still so nervous with the idea of him looking at the book. He was incredibly supportive, of course, but with this work there’s an element of laying your life bare.”