Sonia Lenzi – Looking For My Daughters

Review by Gerhard Clausing

Parents always worry about their children, since the world is full of challenges. Once the kids are out there in the big wide world, away from the protective nest that was their home of origin, these parental worries become intensified. Sonia Lenzi has produced this effective visual essay that expresses her love and worries for her own daughters as a universal phenomenon in a series of portraits of young women in London who are of a similar age.

In this time of “climate change, pandemic, sexism, discrimination, economic and political instability and, in England, the effects of Brexit” (publisher’s note)  there is a feeling of never-ending concern, not just for mothers, but for all of us. The portraits shown in this photobook convey Sonia Lenzi’s love and worries very effectively, generalized as applicable to the fate of all young women. We sense a feeling of uncertainty in the faces and body postures of many of the young women that are shown. They are in the process of developing their individual journeys toward full adulthood, and Lenzi has done an excellent job of observing and portraying these feelings, as they are transmitted to us. The colors are mostly subdued, enhancing the idea of the vulnerability of young women on the brink of adulthood. The printing on matte paper supports that subtlety and also gives us the idea that life is not always such smooth sailing.

The portraits are shown as diptychs, paired in each case with smaller images of the environment, which show a variety of impulses, artifacts, and signs connected to what may affect the lives of the young women. We see graffiti, we see complex structures, and we see buildings that may represent the structured society with its many rules and regulations that will impinge on the lives of these evolving young women. Some of these environmental images are presented as full double pages to enhance the feeling of the potential impact of all of these current developments that will affect the future lives of people.

The pages are printed on French folded sheets, closed at the top and open at the bottom. We may glance at the inside only furtively, and peek at both solid-color pages and continuous textual arrangements, which give us a further sense of uncertainty.

This photobook is an excellent example of translating a singular concern into an effective visual essay.  The combination of sensitive portraits, innovative sequencing, and supportive printing combine to give us a singularly effective view of both the concerns and worries of the photographer as well as the wherewithal of these young British women at our particular time. The search for reasonable outcomes is a lifelong assignment, and the guidance received from our parents often gives us hope and serves as a substantial structure in that quest. And, not to forget, I also want to congratulate all women for their accomplishments and to express encouragement and hope for further progress, especially since today is International Women’s Day 2023.


The PhotoBook Journal previously featured a review of Sonia Lenzi’s Take Me to Live With You.


Gerhard (Gerry) Clausing, Associate Editor of the PhotoBook Journal, is an author and photographer from Southern California.


Sonia Lenzi – looking for my daughters. a book of love and worries

Photographer:  Sonia Lenzi (from Bologna, Italy; also lives and works in London)

Publisher:  Artphilein Editions SA, Lugano, Switzerland; © 2022

Texts:  Sonia Lenzi

Language:  English

Hardcover, French fold, sewn; 88 pages, unpaginated; 6.6 x 9.3 inches (16.7 x 23.6 cm); printed and bound in Italy by Longo, Bolzano/Bozen; ISBN 978-88-945186-4-1

Design:  Sara Murrone, Sonia Lenzi


Articles and photographs published in the PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s). All images, texts, and designs are under copyright by the authors and publishers.

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