Reimagining the modern day Scouts with photographer Stephan Lucka

Avoiding old stereotypes of the Boy and Girl Scouts, the Germany-based photographer brings a touch of humanity and fun back to a long-lasting tradition.

8 February 2023


It’s always a treat when one artist leads to the work of another, and that’s what happened with photographer Stephan Lucka, whose colleague Pia Henkel we covered last year. Stephan’s work takes an equally interesting point of view on a piece of much-forgotten German culture: the nation’s Boy and Girl Scouts. Building from his own past with the Boy Scouts, Stephan has created an idiosyncratic, and gently moving, portrayal of the movement in his photobook The Feeling Only We Know. “Most of the rituals and customs, but also the whole identity of being part of a youth movement, didn’t really change since the day I was a Boy Scout myself,” Stephan tells It’s Nice That. “But the Scouts are not anachronistic in that sense, they grew up in a globalised and digitalised world and these aspects also became incorporated in their movement.”

The drive to cover modern day German Scouts came from Stephan’s own need to revisit his youth, and to “become a Scout again” as days prior. “But there’s also something more general to this subject matter,” he adds. “The interdependency between being in a community with certain rules and regulations, and individual freedom.” For Stephan, this dichotomy served as a greater metaphor for society as a whole. Taking shape from 2015 through until last year, the project has been a slow build for Stephan to work out and perfect.


Stephan Lucka: The Feeling Only We Know (Copyright © Stephan Lucka, 2022)

There’s certainly a new light shed on the Scouts across the photo book. Old stereotypes of a conservative anachronistic and militaristic organisation are done away with and replaced by something more timid, gentle and modern. Evocative framing compliments a bright colour palette, illuminating human touches, humour, poignant moments of reflection in stillness, and more. It works to remind us of a humanity entrenched within the Scouts movement.

“My approach with almost every project is to blend in, to be accepted by the protagonists, to be a part of the whole thing,” Stephan says. “I always just take the photos, even if it doesn’t make sense in that moment, and it's often much later in the editing process that I really understand which story I really want to tell with the images.” It’s in this method that Stephan is able to capture a moment that can’t be described with words, such as the two girls lying on a mat in an embrace. “In the end, it’s a photo book about very basic but important things like intimacy, friendship, freedom and trust,” says Stephan.

GalleryStephan Lucka: The Feeling Only We Know (Copyright © Stephan Lucka, 2022)

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Stephan Lucka: The Feeling Only We Know (Copyright © Stephan Lucka, 2022)

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About the Author

Joey Levenson

Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.

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