For the past four years, Swedish photographer Lisen Stibeck has traveled around the world photographing women on the brink of adulthood. Initially inspired by watching her own daughter struggle to find her way after graduating from high school, Stibeck began befriending young women she met while traveling — starting with the orphanages and youth detention centers where she volunteered in Marrakech.
The resulting portraits, taken everywhere from Morocco to Iceland to New York, are the subject of Stibeck’s new book, Daughters, and also currently on view at Stockholm’s Fotografiska. Her black-and-white photographs of girls from a whole host of different circumstances are striking in both their diversity and intimacy. “To be able to take a portrait of anybody, you need to really know that person,” Stibeck told the Cut. “I think a portrait should be something with feelings.”
Stibeck’s photographs are also about hardship. “I have met women from different social strata: students, artists, models, prostitutes, belly dancers, mothers in their early teens,” she writes in the introduction to the book. “Many of these women have been physically and psychologically injured. They have been beaten, raped, and many of them live under constant oppression.” She stresses, though, that her photographs are about all girls — and that she photographs them in adolescence because “it’s such a fragile time in a woman’s life.”
“That’s when you start to have to identify who you are,” Stibeck explains. “Adults around you think that you are already an adult, but you’re not … I’ve found it’s so important not to think that as soon as your children leave your home, they can fly. I’ve found out that they can’t.”
Click through the slideshow for a look at Stibeck’s striking portraits of young women living in Marrakech, Reykjavík, Oaxaca, and Lidingö.