Starting in 2004, British photographer Julian Germain began a photo project shooting portraits of classrooms in North East England. The next year, he began doing the same thing for schools across the UK. It soon turned into an international project, as he began traveling to schools across the globe to document the environments young people are learning in. He calls the series Classroom Portraits. The photograph above shows a 4th grade math class in Cusco, Peru.
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’. In some cases he also shoots a short video from this angle, for which the children have to sit completely still. They are thus aware of the photographer and look directly into the camera. As a viewer, you look at the photo and 10, 15 or 30 pairs of young eyes gaze back at you.
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.