"Right now I'm kind of having a renaissance within my own sexuality," explains 22-year-old Miami-based photographer Zoé Lawrence. "I'm allowing myself to be sexual. Growing up in the church I got the message that being sexual wasn't OK, that it was kind of taboo. But now I'm just allowing myself to feel all of the feelings that come along with just having a sex drive and wanting to physically be with someone. More than anything, one question that I'm really exploring these days is what is sensuality, really?"
There's a casual, easy sensuality to Lawrence's images. Friends relax on beaches, on patios, in swimming pools, wearing swimsuits or cotton underwear and nothing else. Sometimes they lean against one another or hold hands, and in those moments it seems Lawrence has captured the comfort that comes with the feeling of skin on skin—when young people slip off the shroud of coded taboos and simply delight in what it means to have a body.
Below, Lawrence tells Sweet about how her playful relationship with her friends translates to dreamy photographs.
"I shot DJ Eiko Hara in L.A. after a long day. I had an internship there, so I was working 40 hours a week, and I'd never worked that much in my life. I had a shoot earlier that day with a couple of friends, but I wanted to do a shoot by myself because I felt so stuck in a routine. I'm not really big on going to some random place to shoot, so we shot right outside of Eiko's house. She looks so relaxed because it was her neighborhood, her front yard."
"That's my friend Manahil wearing Pansy. Some friends and I were hanging out, and I told them I needed to get some shots done. I don't really do a lot of serious shoots; it's more that I'll hit up a friend and say, 'Come by, I have some things I really want to shoot.'"
"I've been having really vivid dreams lately, where I'm back home in Jamaica. I'm in a field, and we're all chilling. I was born here, but I went there every summer and lived there for a little bit, too. Those two girls running in the woods, it reminded me of this dream where I was back home with all my friends."
"This was taken last summer with my homegirl Lex. We snuck into a hotel pool that day. I jumped the gate and let her in. It was actually the first day I met her and a couple of her friends."
"My friend Gabby again, in my apartment in Miami."
"This is a couple I met through Gabby in New York this January. That day we all went thrifting, we smoked in the park, kind of just chilled. When I first met them we were at this little farmers market, and it was a really beautiful sunny day, and they were just sitting together in the sun. I was like, 'Oh, let me get a picture of you guys, you look so good.' And that was that."
See more of Zoé Lawrence's work on Instagram, @ripwheresfrankocean.