Tag Archives: Education

Back to School: Classroom Portraits by Julian Germain

Regardless of where we grew up, most of us spent many of our formative years sitting in a classroom. Four walls with colorful pictures on them and a teacher at the front. The language, customs and native dress might differ from place to place, but British photographer Julian Germain, who has spent eight years photographing students in classrooms around the world, found the experience of going back-to-school is universal.

His collection, which spans Brazil, Nigeria, Yemen, Russia, Taiwan, England, America and others, provides a window inside the classrooms of the world. It also represents a new vision of the traditional class photo. “Every year, your class is photographed; a photographer comes in, lines you up in almost a military fashion, but in those pictures you never see the classroom,” says Germain. “They are usually made against a brick wall or a curtain or something so you never really get a look at the space. I had this idea to examine the space where kids learn, and at the same time, examine the kids.”

(See more in Reinventing College, TIME’s special package on education)

Germain began taking photos of classrooms in 2004, not long after his daughter started school. He started by photographing a handful of schools in the northeast region of England where he lives. The following year for a trip to Argentina for a separate assignment his project took an international turn. “It had not been planned in advance, it’s something that happened very organically,” he says. “At a certain point it became clear it would be interesting to photograph schools anywhere I could.” Some of those schools are now part of a book aptly titled, Classroom Portraits.

Education, as Germain notes, is not often the subject of art. “It’s amazing, if you look around museums and things, school is never there,” he says. “Artists frequently go into schools to make art with the children, but never really to make work with education as the theme.” To that end, Germain carefully choreographed each class, just as he would any other subject. He took his photos in the last 15 minutes of the lesson. He made sure each child was visible, but otherwise left the room just as it was. Since he was dealing with often squirrelly children, he didn’t have much time. In the days of film, he says he would only shoot between two and four exposures. Now, thanks to digital, he takes about 10. “They just can’t concentrate for longer than that,” he says.

Unlike your typical school photographer, Germain never yelled, “say cheese.” “I don’t tell them to do anything,” he says. “I just tell them that the exposure is quite long and they need to be ready. I never tell them to smile or adopt a certain mood. I just tell them they need to be ready.” The result is a classroom full of students who appear just as they would to a teacher standing in front of the class delivering a lecture. In fact, Germain thinks of the camera as the teacher. “It’s not that they don’t look happy, they just aren’t grinning like a cheshire cat—they are paying attention to the ‘teacher’,” he says. Which is why you won’t find a teacher in his photos—he prefers to only photograph the students. “I found if teachers are in, they dominate,” he says. “I like the idea that the images are very democratic. I give everybody space. As soon as the teacher goes in there it kind of messes that up. I wanted to make it all about the kids.”

Making the students the focus gives them a sort of power. Because he photographed the children at eye level, when flipping through his book hundreds of eyes stare back at you. “I find that quite challenging,” he says. Indeed, he says, the whole world children inhabit has been built by adults—the education system they are in, the clothes they’re wearing, the textbooks, their notebooks, pencils, pen, the blackboard, the furniture. “It says to me, we are responsible for the world they’re in,” he says. “There’s a lot of mumbling and grumbling and despair about what young people are like, but who’s responsible for that? We are.”

Classroom Portraits was published this summer by Prestel.

Kayla Webley is a staff writer at TIME.

Imaginary Universe: Richard Kolker’s Computer Generated Images

London-based artist Richard Kolker has been working exclusively with computer generated imagery (CGI) for the last six years. But the fact that he comes from a traditional photographic background, having previously worked as a commercial photographer for Getty Images, would surprise no one: Kolker’s imagined pictures of still lifes, interiors and landscapes are rendered with such precision and clarity that they appear like true, documentary shots.

Inspired by the online virtual world Second Life and games such as World of Warcraft, which both rely heavily on GCI, Kolker sought to create images that were the antithesis of the aesthetic found in these programs. “I wanted to create images that reflected a more mundane nature, as opposed to the more fascinating environments people were experiencing through the anonymity of an avatar,” he says.

TIME Magazine

Richard Kolker’s computer generated image featured in the Oct. 29, 2012 issue of TIME.

That quieter mood is seen in the image created for Kolker in this week’s education-themed issue of TIME. For a story that examines the potential of free online courses to upend traditional higher education, Kolker created a dark image of an empty classroom. “A lot of my photos have this dark shadowy entity to it,” he explains. “I wanted to convey the emptiness with this classroom image—like all the life has been taken out.”

Kolker’s images typically take a couple days to create. And while the method may be seen as unconventional, he says the process itself feels similar to actual shooting. “I build a model like I would with plastic or cardboard, and I light it as I would in real life—but just with digital tools,” Kolker says. “And then I photograph it with a computer tool [Maxon Cinema 4D] that has a shutter speed and aperture—so in many ways, it’s fairly conventional.”

For the most part, Kolker relies on his self-described “vivid imagination” to conceptualize pictures, although he’ll use an actual photograph as a starting point from time to time. In one series, “Reference, Referents,” Kolker looked to famous works by artists whose pieces recalled photographic elements, including David Hockney, and tried to recreate the perfect picture that might have inspired said work.

He still carries cameras around when he travels, but says he never takes pictures anymore, preferring to continue his CGI work. “The whole world is shifting from analog to digital, and I love thinking about this digital code that you can use to create images of places around the world without ever having to go there,” Kolker says. “I love the total freedom of it—the ability to create whatever it is in your imagination or fantasy.”

Richard Kolker is an artist based in the U.K. See more of his work here

 

The Boy from Troy

Donny began raking in the cash almost immediately after the short yellow school bus dropped him off in front of his house in Troy N.Y.

He spotted his mother Kayla, 22, who had been waiting for him on their front porch and hurled his Spiderman backpack in the direction of her feet. As he walked up the steps, Donny made himself available to a random, yet steady, trickle of well wishers, the sort who preferred to peel off a few green backs instead of fumbling with gift paper and bows. Donny, whose name has been changed at the request of the photographer, turned eight that day and in his neighborhood, occasions such as birthdays, funerals and releases from prison, drew big crowds in which everyone was considered family and obliged to make an appearance.

That birthday, which took place this April, was particularly important for Donny. His previous birthday had fallen in the middle of a fourteen-day crisis intervention that the seven year old had spent in a pediatric psychiatric facility. Since kindergarten, Donny has struggled with several emotional and behavioral disorders including attention deficit disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and separation anxiety. His diagnoses have resulted in multiple suspensions that have caused him to miss valuable school time.

This year, family members were making up for lost time. Jose, an old sweetheart of Kayla’s who was recently released from prison, passed by the stoop with a twenty; Donny’s uncle Will, who was scheduled to begin a 60-day stint in county jail, left a fist full of ones; Kayla’s brother Robby, out on probation, put $10 towards a World Wrestling Federation action figure that Donny wanted. And Sabrina, an extended family member, dropped by to give Donny a huge hug and reveal her birthday plan to take him to a Yankees game. A cousin to Donny’s biological father, Sabrina has filled in for him, on and off, since Donny’s birth and later became Kayla’s first serious girlfriend.

I’ve known Donny since he was born, after a friend introduced to me Sabrina, who was the subject of a New York Times Magazine assignment that sent me close to my hometown in upstate New York. It was the first time that I returned as a professional since leaving there more than 30 years before. Kayla lived in Troy, just 10 minutes from where I grew up, and her story resonated with me. Reserved and street smart, Kayla was the girl I wished I was when I was 14. There was an uneasy identification between the two of us that grew into friendship over the next eight years while I continued to document Kayla, Sabrina and their friends who lived as a family on the same block. A family, I discovered, that was formed largely in response to increasingly punitive legal, moral and economic shifts within their working class community. I watched, as school either became the interface between the justice system and a disengaged teenager or a lifeline thrown from an involved teacher. At year six, I began to agonize about the utility of this monster story and when Donny began school, it became evident that he was the story. Donny is the proverbial child that this neighborhood raised.

Donny is one of a number of very young children that are part of an alarming increase in students being labeled with disabilities at much younger ages. He was suspended from school four times when he was in kindergarten, almost twice that in first grade and more than twenty days in second grade. In New York City, policy critics and social justice advocates note that minority children and children with disabilities are more likely to be suspended, and at much younger ages. Yet, organizations such as the Children’s Defense Fund note that there is no evidence to show that suspension corrects behavior, especially among children as young as Donny—and that this supports a “cradle to prison” pipeline. The Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights 2009-2010 survey released In March 2012, shows that once students are suspended from school, they are more likely to be suspended again—and ultimately may serve time in prison.

In February, Donny was taken out of the Rennselaer county school district regular classroom for special education and placed in day treatment that serves as a specialized school with one-on-one instruction in small classrooms, a longer school year and where suspension is not an option. That consistency, along with the support of a team of social workers, has been a tremendous factor in his improvement at home and school. Kayla says he wakes her while it is still dark and wants to get ready for school. In the past, school social workers had targeted one of Donny’s “triggers” as school avoidance, and it became a cycle, with him acting out because he knew he would be sent home and then not feeling a part of the class when he returned and then acting out so he could leave again. Donny has now been in school since February without being suspended. This is the longest time he has gone with out a suspension since kindergarten.

Brenda Ann Kenneally is a photographer based in New York. See more of her work hereTo read more about the project, visit Upstategirls.org.

Photo Stroll through The Photographers’ Gallery in London at press view

Photo stroll from press view of revamped The Photographers’ Gallery today.

20120517-114916.jpg

20120517-114942.jpg

20120517-114958.jpg

20120517-115013.jpg

20120517-115036.jpg

20120517-115059.jpg

20120517-115139.jpg

20120517-115212.jpg

20120517-115259.jpg

20120517-115332.jpg

20120517-115406.jpg

20120517-115443.jpg

20120517-115517.jpg

20120517-115556.jpg

20120517-115634.jpg

20120517-115731.jpg

20120517-115832.jpg

20120517-115908.jpg

20120517-115952.jpg

20120517-120046.jpg

Some more photos as no wifi at gallery today to hook into so took time to load images. Now back in a wifi zone with some photos from the 5th floor space where Burtynsky work is on show (the 4th and 5th floors) while the 3rd is the education and camera obscura room, while the basement houses the shop and print sales room.

20120517-175800.jpg

20120517-175814.jpg

20120517-175852.jpg

20120517-175906.jpg

20120517-175918.jpg

20120517-175930.jpg

20120517-175949.jpg

20120517-180003.jpg

20120517-180019.jpg

20120517-180034.jpg

20120517-180049.jpg

20120517-180103.jpg

Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: london, The Photographers’ Gallery

DEVELOP Tube: A Photographic Resource Grows

Available on both YouTube and Vimeo, DEVELOP Tube is a video channel that offers resources for photographers. Each project featured on DEVELOP Tube is carefully curated from the photography-related selections of the two video services, with the goal of reflecting and informing some aspect of the photographic community. Thousands of videos are showcased there, from behind the scenes looks at the editing process to trailers for photography-related films. There’s a discussion with photographer Stephen Shore, who helped popularize color photography, about working with Andy Warhol, as well as a multimedia piece about the U.S. economy. Elsewhere, there’s an interview with war photographer Joao Silva, who was wounded in Afghanistan in 2010, about “the biggest fight of the photographer.”

DEVELOP Tube on Vimeo

DEVELOP Tube on Vimeo

But DEVELOP Tube is only a small part of a larger project.

DEVELOP’s founder, Erica McDonald, is an American photographer, curator and teacher, whose career has taken her into magazines, newspapers, galleries and schools around the world. But, she says, she had come to recognize that her geographic location and her connections were giving her a leg up on other photographers, those in isolated regions or just beginning their careers. She wanted to change that.

“I see people around the world who maybe don’t have the same foundation or connections or even opportunities or time or whatever it is, to know what’s what, what grants are available or where they could show their work,” she says. “I felt like I could do something to contribute to our community this way.”

That contribution is DEVELOP Photo, a website slated to launch as the next phase of McDonald’s project. Working as a “one-man band” except for back-end web engineering, she has also built the whole thing from scratch. She says DEVELOP Tube is just a teaser for the larger initiative. “Little did I realize it was going to be about two years later and I would’ve been working around the clock,” she says.

The project took on a life of its own and will, in its final iteration, include an online resource library, education workshops, a magazine aspect and more. Even now, the video channels are a rich source of photographic information. A few weeks ago, DEVELOP collaborated with other photography organizations (like Daylight Magazine and Slideluck Potshow) to host a “Women in Multimedia” night in Bologna, Italy, to showcase the work of many multimedia artists from around the world. Some participated as solo artists and some were part of a group multimedia piece. The event was the source of the works in the gallery shown above, and was part of a larger exhibit called Uncommon Intimacy, which was co-curated by McDonald and is on view now through March 15. And McDonald also is working on collaborating to produce a documentary photography workshop, to be held in New York City this coming June.

McDonald isn’t quite sure what the future holds once the full site launches. “I don’t want it to become a commercial endeavor per se, but I’m not sure I want it to become a non-profit,” she says, but the project continues to expand. “Whoever we work with, it should be in the collaborative spirit. It’s a really interesting, vibrant, alive confluence of pieces.”

Erica McDonald is an American photographer based in New York City. Find out more here.

Objects of Sex: ‘Wired’ at the Kinsey Institute

As a child, Sarah Sudhoff wanted to be a doctor. Her maternal grandparents were in the medical field, and she grew up with a healthy fascination for the human body. It’s fitting, then, that much of Sudhoff’s work relates to the human body and its frailty, a topic she finds instantly relatable. “I’m a naturally curious person and often seek photographic subjects that are less mainstream,” the Texas-based fine art photographer says. “I prefer pieces that leave a residue longer after I’ve walked away from the object or seen the photograph.”

Sudhoff had the chance to explore her passions in depth after she participated in the annual juried art exhibition at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction in Bloomington, Ind., in 2008. Her image, titled Exam 2, was selected for inclusion in the show and now hangs permanently in the Kinsey Institute. After her selection for the show, the photographer was invited to visit the Institute by Catherine Johnson-Roehr, curator of art, artifacts and photographs, as the Kinsey Institute’s first artist in residence in 2010.

“I spent four days absorbing medical journals and textbooks dedicated to the treatment of women in the early 20th century as well as hundreds of photographs of the female nude from the same time period,” Sudhoff says of her visit. “However on the last day of my residency, I witnessed a research assistant washing out a medical device in a small sink—the trough portion of the Biothesiometer. Although a rather routine event for everyone else at the Kinsey Institute, I was caught completely off guard yet intrigued.”

Up until that point, Sudhoff had not realized that psycho-physiological research was still being conducted at the Institute. “I stared at the instrument, wondering about the identity of the volunteer subject and the test being conducted. It was a potent reminder that sexual research is still happening, and it is just as pressing, and taboo, as it was 60 years ago,” she says.

This unexpected occurrence served as a catalyst for the project entitled Wired. In 2011, Sudhoff journeyed back to Bloomington to catalog many of the devices, both contemporary and vintage, that the Institute has used in its research.

“I spent months in the planning stages of the project, acquiring permission and arranging for my flight and accommodations. I only spent one weekend shooting,” she says. “I visited during Indiana University’s spring break while the Kinsey Institute was officially closed. It assured me uninterrupted time to work as well as prevented me from accidentally encountering volunteer research participants.”

Sudhoff believes some of our attitudes towards sex and our sexual selves have changed since the Kinsey Institute began its work, but much of the country is still quite conservative about sex and sexual acceptance.

“A few years ago, my husband went to a drugstore to purchase condoms. The woman behind him in line asked in a serious voice, ‘What, you don’t want to have children?’ ‘Not yet,’ my husband replied.” Sudhoff found herself both shocked and fascinated by the comment. “I found it interesting that a stranger was irritated enough to say something about our sexual habits and discuss them publicly, but at the same time, pass judgment on our choice to practice safe sex,” she said. “It left me wondering why it is only appropriate to discuss sex when it’s for reproduction and not for pleasure?”

Sudhoff still views the project as a work in progress and she’s exploring the possibility of adding additional devices to the series from research institutes like the Kinsey. “I’m not sure how the inclusion of another space and their instruments will work conceptually and aesthetically, but I feel it’s worth investigating,” she says.

Sarah Sudhoff is a fine art photographer based in Texas. See more of her work here.

The Do’s and Don’ts

The Do’s and Don’ts of Graduate Studies: Maxims from the Chair from the book The Education of a Photographer by Charles H Traub, Chair at School of Visual Arts’ MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department in New York.

The Do’s

Do something old in a new way
Do something new in an old way
Do something new in a new way, Whatever works . . trade show booth display . pennsylvania foundation repair . . appliance repair in atlanta . works
Do it sharp, if you can’t, call it art
Do it in the computerâ€if it can be done there
Do fifty of themâ€you will definitely get a show
Do it big, if you cant do it big, do it red
If all else fails turn it upside down, if it looks good it might work
Do Bend your knees
If you don’t know what to do, look up or downâ€but continue looking
Do celebritiesâ€if you do a lot of them, you’ll get a book
Connect with othersâ€network
Edit it yourself
Design it yourself
Publish it yourself
Edit, When in doubt shoot more
Edit again
Read Darwin, Marx, Joyce, Freud, Einstein, Benjamin, McLuhan, and Barth
See Citizen Kane ten times
Look at everythingâ€stare
Construct your images from the edge inward
If it’s the “real world,” do it in color
If it can be done digitallyâ€do it
Be self centered, self involved, and generally entitled and always pushingâ€and damned to hell for doing it
Break all rules, except the chairman’s

The Don’ts

Don’t do it about yourselfâ€or your friendâ€or your family
Don’t dare photograph yourself nude
Don’t look at old family albums
Don’t hand color it
Don’t write on it
Don’t use alternative processâ€if it ain’t straight do it in the computer
Don’t gild the lilyâ€AKA less is more
Don’t go to video when you don’t know what else to do
Don’t photograph indigent people, particularly in foreign lands
Don’t whine, just produce