For 23-year-old Jordan Taylor, doom-scrolling through Instagram’s explore page was the perfect coping mechanism to fight lockdown blues. Back in summer 2020, the Newcastle-based student set up his Instagram account Tough Luck, a platform spotlighting analogue photography of illegal raves, house parties and early hours hedonism.
“I basically wanted to share the work of film photographers I like,” says Taylor about the early beginnings of his page. “It just snowballed into what it is today.” What started as a Tumblr-esque collection of personal memories evolved into a remarkable archive of youth and rave culture from around the world. Scrolling through Tough Luck’s Instagram profile feels like attending one big party – everyone is having the time of their lives, drinking, dancing, and losing all sense of time and space.
“This account isn’t really about me personally,” explains Taylor. “I’m just happy to share it with the world.” Over the years, Tough Luck grew into a submission-based platform featuring up-and-coming photographers from all around the world. “There are thousands of them,” he adds, “especially now that people can get their hands on a film camera so easily.”
But treasuring and collecting all of these images on the internet wasn’t enough for Taylor, who’s heavily involved in Newcastle’s rave scene. Three weeks ago, he launched the very first Tough Luck booklet, Nowt Daft, featuring long-term collaborators from England to France and beyond. “I always wished to have a physical version of the page, so I can give it to my mates,” says the founder, uncovering the reason for taking the project IRL.
For Dublin-based photographer Isabel Farrington, whose work is featured in Tough Luck’s first-ever booklet, dedication makes the perfect party. “The best raves are those where everyone is part of a greater idea, whether it be a particular sound, scene or style,” says the 21-year-old. According to Manchester-based photographer Charles Hall, who’s also part of the publication, a good rave is one full of people on the same wavelength, who are truly lost in the moment. In his work, the 21-year-old captures pure happiness and emotion by catching people’s expressions off guard.
The same goes for photographer Wesley Triber, 24, who mostly captures Paris nightlife. “I want people to feel the present moment,” he says about his personal work. For him, it’s more than just taking photos of young people having fun. “Youth culture is the culture of tomorrow; the one that must fight for itself in order to leave a trace of our passage and give meaning to our existence,” he says.
This idea of creating something for the next generation to look back on is the driving force behind Tough Luck’s new booklet. In the future, Taylor is not only on the lookout for new talent offering a fresh take on the scene, but also wants to create more zines dedicated to the freedom of rave culture around the world. “Having a good time, being with your friends and not really thinking about anything else, that’s freedom to me,” he says. In the end, it doesn’t matter where the party takes place – the feeling always stays the same.
“Nowt Daft” is available to buy through Tough Luck’s website and at KINDRED record shop in London.