Photographing Generation Z

Jessica Longworth takes photos of her kid sister and the daily minutiae of the generation currently on its way to adulthood.

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08 February 2015, 12:00am

Every generation thinks every other generation are the worst: Baby boomers ruined the economy, Gen X were crybabies, and Gen Y are narcissists. But Gen Z—people born between 1995 and 2009—may just turn out to be responsible, if somewhat conservative adults. Australian photographer Jessica Longworth's series Gen Z Kid focuses on the daily minutiae of her 12-year-old sister Demi and her friends' lives on Australia's Gold Coast. She captures the awkward, normal moments of kids who will probably be our bosses one day.

VICE: So why take these kid's photos?
Jessica Longwoth: I wanted to explore the identity of a younger generation, observe how they live, and find out how real the stereotypes against them are. Also, they are the first generation that didn't experience the pre-internet world, I find that very interesting.

Did you always want to focus on your sister?
Yeah, I wanted to capture a more intimate story of her and her friends. It seemed easier portraying a girl I already had this relationship with.

It seems weird to talk about these kids as a different species, you wouldn't think a decade would make that much of a difference. But spending time with Demi, did her life feel different to yours at 12?
When I was younger I used to ride my bike through the neighborhood and catch up with all the kids. Nowadays most kids just stay indoors and watch movies. She's also much better at playing dress-up and putting makeup on than I was because of YouTube—she's learned how to do bows for her hair and I never did that!

Does she seem more educated than you were at 12?
She does seem more educated on social issues than I was, and I believe this is due to being more involved with the internet. I also think they're more educated at school.

The way people speak about Gen Z gives the sense they expect big things, do you feel they're going to be more responsible?
They're growing up a bit quicker than other generations. They're consuming things on the internet that are not suitable for younger kids. They know much more about what's going on in the world than Generation Y did. Also, they have easy access to consumer culture and they're aware of spending money and things kids didn't use to think about.

What does your sister worry about?
That she's growing up too quick. They seem to have more pressure to get a job, earn money, and look good.

What does she want to be when she grows up?
A marine biologist.

Funny how that doesn't change. What was the biggest surprise for you when shooting the project?
The way they interact with each other, the bond these girls share and their connection to each other seems so strong. The early engagement with technology and social media and the world has made this generation a more empowered group of kids.

Find more of Jessica's photos here.

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