"Before the pandemic, one in ten teenagers showed symptoms of depression. At the end of the first lockdown, it was one in four." Photographer Valentin Goppel depicts young lives in troubled times

Zwischen den Jahren by Valentin Goppel
(Image credit: Valentin Goppel)

A new book by photographer Valentin Goppel gives an insight into how lockdown affected the younger generation, as they transitioned from children to adults during an unprecedented time in his new book Zwischen den Jahren which translates to 'Between the Years'.

Struggling to make sense of the disorientation of lockdown life, in 2020 Goppel began taking photographs in an attempt to process his feelings. The book is made up of a combination of observed and staged scenes sharing memories during the time of the lockdown, where Goppel photographed moments he shared with friends, and family and time spent alone in the time between Christmas and New Year, of which the book is named.   

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(Image credit: Valentin Goppel)

The book reflects how time passed differently, and the sense of uncertainty that was felt during the pandemic in Germany. Often the images show young people illuminated by the lights of their phones or laptop screens, for a long time the only way in which they could have a social life. 

Family life is shown with a loud silence and the tension between the generations can be felt through the pages. That stillness acts as a character, evident throughout the book which makes it seem very voyeuristic, looking in on the lives of others. Even in the photographs where friends are seen together, you can observe that they aren't truly 'present'.

Goppel writes, "I tried to find ways to express the diffuse of feelings of growing up in the ‘time of corona.’ Not knowing where to hold on when everything is shaking around you may just be natural during the period in life when one is no longer a child, but not yet an adult. The pandemic worked as a catalyst to my disorientation, bringing to light the inner conflicts that had been well contained by the right environment and sufficient distraction. They finally broke free and took the space they had always silently demanded."

(Image credit: Valentin Goppel)

I can't imagine what it must have been like as a young person growing up during the lockdown but this book gives a good insight into the battles that young people had to deal with. For some, the end of childhood was stolen, and the transition to adulthood was more abrupt than most would be typical. Speaking on this Goppel states,

"Before the pandemic, one in ten German teenagers showed symptoms of depression. At the end of the first lockdown, it was one in four. Many of my friends had trouble reconnecting with their social lives after the lockdown and I was no different."

(Image credit: Valentin Goppel)

The book is an insight into the young generations' experience during the time and makes for entertaining yet tense viewing. Zwischen den Jahren by Valentin Goppel is published by Gost Books and will be released on January 11, 2024, but you can preorder now. The price is $55 / £40. 

An exhibition of the works will also be on display at Leica Gallery London from December 16, 2023 - January 22, 2024.

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Kalum Carter
Staff Writer

Kalum Carter is a UK-based photographer, writer, and photo editor. Kalum has been working as a freelance photographer for the best part of ten years, covering a wide range of assignments for well-known brands and publications in areas including portraiture, fashion, and documentary. 

Between commercial assignments, Kalum is currently working on a personal photography project exploring his connection to the Gower region of South Wales UK, as part of an MA in Photography from The University of West England.