For his Classroom Portraits series, Julian Germain photographed classes all over the world. The detailed colour photographs tell the story of the schools, the pupils and their environment. Germain began the series in 2004 in North-East England before extending it to schools in North and South America, Europe and Asia.
In this series, Germain reinterprets the traditional class photo in his own, perceptive way. He enters a classroom while a lesson is in progress, the pupils sit in their usual places and he only moves a child here and there to ensure no one is obscured by anyone else. He sets up his camera on the spot where the teacher usually stands, at 'child height'. By photographing in colour with a large-format camera, Germain captures even the smallest details. The children's intent faces and the objects in the classrooms tell the story of the pupils and their environment. Germain also asked the children to complete surveys that asked both serious and playful questions. He converted the results into infographics, providing the viewer with more information about the children’s daily lives as well as their music preferences, aspirations and so on.
Classroom Portraits reminds me of Jan Banning who for his Bureaucratics series barged into different bureaucratic offices in different parts of the world and immediately started taking pictures giving the officers little time to tidy up their desks. It also reminds me of James Mollison’s somewhat related Where Children Sleeps and Peter Menzel’s insightful Hungry Planet.