Explore the Millennials with The Geography of Youth

all photo credits: Geography of Youth

ABOUT the restless collective

A photography and multimedia collective formed by Alan Winslow and Morrigan McCarthy in 2010 as an umbrella for joint projects. Projects include Project Tandem, and The Geography of Youth.

FOLLOW The restless collective


You are the Restless Collective, how did you meet and end up working together? 

We met in 2007 when we were both working summer jobs at the Maine Media Workshops. When the summer was over, we both needed to move to New York for work, and so we decided to split an apartment. The rest, as they say, is history. 

How has working in a duo impacted your work as individual image-makers and how has it driven your work forward? 

Working at a team has improved both of our photography work, as it has meant that we necessarily need to communicate our decisions so that we’re always on the same page. It’s also nice to have someone who can pick up the slack in areas where one or the other of us fall behind. 

Geography of Youth

“That’s part of the beauty of anything with a documentary heart: the important issues are addressed, and your job is as more of a caretaker- creating a safe space for dialogue.”

Alan Winslow and Morrigan McCarthy of the Restless Collective

You yourselves are Millennials, was Geography of Youth born as a self-exploration and considering some of the issues you have experienced? 

The Geography of Youth was born less of self-exploration and more of a general curiosity about our peers and the world around us. Of course, looking back, we learned so much about ourselves in the process that it would be safe to say self-exploration certainly played into it.

Initially starting as a bike-journey and road-trip across the world, how was it as photographers to be so engrossed in a project? 

The Geography of Youth was our second long-term project together, and so we were accustomed to working as a team and to being so engrossed in a project. Big projects are always exciting and The Geography of Youth was no exception, but you have to be sure that you occasionally take a step back and look at the big picture so you don’t get lost in the details.

Alan and Morrigan on the road.

You eventually chose to open up the project to submissions. How did this interactive approach affect the project? 

Opening up the project to submissions by other Millennials was one of the best decisions we made. We had no idea that it would take off in the way it did, and after two years of working on the project as just the two of us, it was truly exhilarating to get an infusion of new energy and excitement. Not to mention that we were able to hear from Millennials in places we had never even planned to travel. Even to this day, each new submission is exciting!

Geography of Youth, Samantha

In the face of the 2008 financial crash, there has been talk of the ‘lost generation’ and the media often paints a pretty bleak future for the Millennials. How did this debate translate into the project and did you face any difficulties in figuring out how to tackle such a large and often discussed topic? 

We designed the project very specifically to allow Millennials to tell their own stories. It was interesting, as we traveled, to see pockets of Millennials who had been greatly affected by global economic issues, and pockets who were considerably less touched, but the format of the project left the discussion of that topic to the Millennials themselves. That’s part of the beauty of anything with a documentary heart: the important issues are addressed, and your job is as more of a caretaker- creating a safe space for dialogue.

The project took on many different forms, from a road-trip to an interactive website and a public art display. Do you believe the multi-media and collaborative approach is becoming an important aspect of the photographic medium? 

Multimedia is becoming more and more pervasive in the photography world. We both see it as an incredible tool that, if harnessed correctly, can make a huge impact. The Geography of Youth made sense as a multimedia project, and as public art since it was created in part by the public. That being said, there is still a very real and very important place for images alone. The key is figuring out what format best serves your project, and not being seduced by the appeals of the others.

Geography of Youth

Having worked on this project, what do you feel sets aside the Millennials from other generations before and after?

The hallmarks of the Millennial generation are optimism and a charitable/activist bent, but it cannot be said that those are necessarily unique to us. What is most certainly unique to Millennials though is a sense of global connectedness. It is not unusual for Millennials to have close friends flung across the world, and an understanding of global issues is expected of people our age. That global connectedness sets us apart, and puts us in an extraordinary position of being able to assert our views and ideas in a way that could not have been done until recently. Grappling with that power, and harnessing that responsibility will ultimately be our generation’s legacy.

Geography of Youth’s interactive website with Millenial stories.