Close-up of a person wearing a thin chain necklace draped over a white t-shirt

Lola & Pani’s book captures the contrasts of youth

The duo’s latest project, Bumps, recalls the devil-may-care attitudes of adolescence, and a period defined by fun, freedom and a search for understanding

Photography duo Lola Paprocka and Pani Paul, who collaborate under the name Lola & Pani, have released their fourth joint book, Bumps, published by Paprocka’s imprint Palm Studios. Shot over the course of a decade, this latest body of work explores the triumphs and challenges of adolescence, including the seemingly endless search for identity, meaning and belonging.

Youth culture is a central thread in their work, explains Paprocka. “There’s generally quite a nostalgic theme in our practice and our inspirations come from our own personal experiences growing up. When shooting [younger] subjects there are often lots of elements within their lives that really bring us back to [that time] and the friends we grew up with.”

Young person with bare legs and slicked back hair holding a cigarette
Close-up of a graze on a person's shoulder

Spending their childhoods on different sides of the world – Paprocka in Poland’s “concrete estates” and Paul along Australia’s sandy coastline – the duo have formed a broad perspective of youth, informed by multiple experiences.

It is fitting, then, that the images within Bumps do not present a singular vision of this period, but rather a universal understanding of what it means to be a teenager, and how we navigate the world at that point in our lives. The photographs were shot in their home countries, as well as the UK, the US, and Serbia.

Overhead shot of a person with blonde cropped hair wearing jeans and no shirt perched on the floor of a studio

Bringing together portrait and landscape imagery, the book – which has been co-curated by former i-D editor-in-chief Alastair Mckimm and creative directed by Jonny Lu – presents a survey of adolescence that is both playful and poignant.

Reflecting on the process, Paul says the featured subjects were found almost entirely through organic encounters – people the pair met while out skating or attending a gig – and, as a result, were captured with care and intimacy, which is reflected in the images.

A young person with cropped brown hair and wearing a hoodie facing away looking over their shoulder
Pink foamy surface partly submerged in water

“We wouldn’t say it’s intentional in the sense that we set out to make ‘gentle images’, but it’s pretty intrinsic to our process that we have a connection to our subjects and there’s a personal element to these collaborations,” Paprocka says. “I think this lends itself to a softer outcome both in terms of the visual as well as the overall mood.”

In the images, the subjects can be seen holding broken phones, shaving each other’s heads, and showing off cuts on their skin. There is a rawness to the implied narratives that will resonate with many readers, reminding them of a time that was both carefree and riddled with insecurity. This dichotomy of youth can be found throughout Bumps, and the duo say that documenting this over the last ten years has given them much space to reflect on their own formative experiences.

Black and white photo of a young person wearing jeans and trainers sat on a chair in a studio environment buzzing their hair

“The whole process was really quite nostalgic,” says Paprocka. “It brought back memories of youth for both of us and it was really nice to get to share these with each other. On a different level, working on a personal project can be quite confronting.

“It’s pretty scary putting yourself out there for people to see, and there’s a lot of our ‘true selves’ in this book. But it’s also liberating, to get to spend a long time on a project and really work on something you care for is a blessing and we’re incredibly happy with where we got to.”

Plants on a windowsill behind a plastic screen
Black and white photo of a young person with light cropped hair and braces smiling at the camera

Bumps is published by Palm Studios. Work from Bumps is on show at 10 14 Gallery, London until 14 June;