SHK has teamed with photographer Kelsey Bennett to curate a yearbook for the creative souls of NYC.

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“The acronym of Have A Good Summer, H.A.G.S — a sentiment scrawled across the pages of yearbooks — is the title of my ongoing series of portraits, resembling what the kids of my dream High School would look like. They’re the artists, musicians, writers, outcasts, rebels, or just members of a rad gang.”

Photographer. Artist. Agitator. Kelsey Bennett has been struck by the pervading power of the camera since age 12, going on to study under greats such as Annie Leibovitz and Danielle Levitt. “My grandmother taught me how to develop and print in her darkroom,” she says. “My sister and our friends were my muses early on.”

Thoughts on sexuality, fantasy and childhood continuously intertwine in Kelsey’s relationship with art. The concept of H.A.G.S. captures the idea of a traditional high school yearbook that’s both nostalgia-inducing and disruptive. Wielding her camera on the exuberant downtown creatives of NYC, Bennett’s subjects propel an opportunity to examine how today’s cultural landscape reflects on how the underground art world is working and how we all intersect. In theory, a yearbook serves as a time capsule featuring groups of people walking on the same path, united on paper through photographs and handwritten gestures of transitioning to bigger, better places. The energy that surrounds H.A.G.S. is a throwback reminder that in our day and age of digital ephemerality, technology can be intrusively informative — and we all need simplistic breaks from ongoing references to “selfies” and “kale.”

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In collaboration with SHK, Bennett’s yearbook is honest and unapologetic, curated with the rebels. The next-phase thinkers. “High school wasn’t the best years of my life, but these ones are and I want to rejoice in that by photographing my long lost tribe,” says Bennett. “The ones who are weird and wild at heart.” H.A.G.S. is a take on gathering those “interesting personalities” into a singular mindset where they can revel in one another’s company, whilst Bennett photographs an interweaving saga that meshes time/place with deadpan quirks, honest smiles and creamy complexions.

A range of pop-culture references nod throughout the series, “Heinz Weinberger’s Book Rebel Youth and John Water’s Cry Baby are major influences for H.A.G.S.”

What’s next? Bennett answers, “Next on my list are the cast and crew of Buttercup Bill, a movie that my sister Remy Bennett stars in and wrote and directed with her friend Emilie Richard-Froozan, soon to be released.”

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 So, welcome to H.A.G.S. Every week, we’ll be featuring the stories of two members of Bennett’s long lost tribe. And check out SHKmag for the full feature. 

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