Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas first encountered the girls of Little Italy in 1975. "They'd see me coming and yell, 'Take a picture! Take a picture!" she recalls in the photoessay at the centre of this exciting issue of Granta. Joyce Carol Oates and Paul Theroux are among the contributors who examine the moment the individual disappears into the group photo, and the emotions that run riot when the image resurfaces.
For three years, Meiselas captured Pina, Jo-Jo, Lisa and their gang on their way home from St Patrick's cathedral school, hanging out on porch steps and escaping to Rockaway Beach. She left them in adolesence, returning 10 years later to photograph them with children and husbands.
Earlier in the same decade, Lindsay Watson was snapped on arrival at King's College Cambridge with three other women, thrown together as representatives of the first female undergraduates: "The traces of opportunism and self-confidence that existed then were to be shaken over the next three years," the psychoanalyst writes in a piece that paints a picture of subtle inequalities which she senses are still in place.
But other scenes captured here are gone for good: Geoff Dyer's glimpse of 1980s postgraduate indolence on a Brixton rooftop is all the more appealing because it happened before student loans.