A Look Into Coming of Age Stories in “Upstate Girls”


The latest photo book, “Upstate Girls: Unraveling Collar City,” by Brenda Ann Kenneally follows the lives of young women from working class families in Troy, New York for nine consecutive years. The photographs reveal the inequalities that many neighborhoods similar to Troy face through the documentation of the subjects’ private lives. One of the young women is Kayla, who Kenneally began documenting when she was 14 years old and pregnant with her son. Keneally features both Kayla and her son growing up over the years as they deal with psychological issues and face the world together. The photo book is a comment on the lack of necessities given to those in poverty and working class women coming into age.

For Further Reading

Visit Keneally’s Upstate Girl’s website to view all of her work for this project.

Discussion Question

Keneally focuses on women who are underrepresented in mainstream media. If you were to document another group of underrepresented people, who would your subjects be? What would you hope to communicate to viewers?

Action Item

Look through different the time periods of the Upstate Girls project. Ask yourself how you think the women have grown and how the photographs capture that narrative.


Read more on The New York Times Magazine | Image: Kayla, smoking, carrying Tony. Credit Brenda Ann Kenneally