Summertime in Berlin. Israeli-born photographer Niv Shank had just moved back to Europe after several years living in LA, and one day found himself hanging out by a lake near the city. Youthful and beautiful, the assembled bathers smoked, drank, laughed and kissed in the sunshine.

Niv was struck by the sheer romance of it all; the relaxed mood was like something from a student film, but with the glamour of a Slim Aarons shot. This sparked the idea for a series about the groups of young people who spend the warm months basking by Europe’s lakes, especially around the former Eastern bloc. The stunning landscapes, lush colours, the dreamy sunshine, the retro swimwear – or lack of it – combine to give these documentary-style stills and video that nostalgic, authentic feel Niv himself experienced in these places. Like a forgotten postcard from a first love, they transport us back to a time when life was up for grabs.

Stylist – Christina van zon

Production design – Jade pearl baker

Hair & make up – Rolando Alfredo Kasper

“I was fascinated by the simplicity of the people that were hanging out by the lakes. The portable picnic style set ups, the alcohol friendly vibe, the singing, playing, smoking and just enjoying what nature has to offer us...”

Niv Shank