Photographs by Julian Germain.
Prestel, Lakewood, 2012. 208 pp., 110 color illustrations, 12x9".
What happens when a stranger enters a classroom during a lesson and asks for the pupils' total concentration for 15 minutes in order to make their portrait? He positions everyone with great care (so that they can clearly be seen) and then demands that they stay completely still for the long exposure. The results are both predictable and astonishing. This ongoing series by Julian Germain started in northeast England. Since then Germain has visited schools throughout North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. His magnificent photographs are packed with detail-books open on graffitied desks, instructions on white and blackboards, artwork hanging on walls, notes scribbled on the backs of hands. And of course there are the faces of the children themselves; enrapt, bored, inquisitive, arrogant, or shy, they incite endless curiosity about what these kids' lives are like and what their futures hold. Exquisitely reproduced in an oversize format, these portraits trigger memories of our own schooldays and bring into sharp focus the contemporary school experience throughout the world, in all its diversity and universality.
Read Karen Jenkins' review of Classroom Portraits on photo-eye Blog.