Julian Germain, Steelworks

Initially I was drawn to this project because I wanted to see how other documentary photographers were working with material from other sources.

The publication is laid out in a similar way to a scrapbook, with photographs and text juxtaposed without any apparent order or sequence. It includes family snapshots as well as newspaper clippings and photographs from other journalists, including Don McCullin!

My only qualm is that it separates the material down according to source, rather than employing a strictly democratic technique as was used by the exhibitors of the 9/11 pictures, where amateur and professional images were exhibited side by side with no distinction, and when the images were auctioned there was no authorship declared. I appreciate that the original photographers had to be credited – and may even have had a say in how or which images were to be shown, but adding authorship information at the end would have been the way I’d have gone. He even goes as far as exhibiting the work as poster-sized facsimiles of what appear to be notebooks:

While this image is the epitome of geometric composition:

Decided to explore the artist’s website.

Found some interesting projects:

For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness, 2005

A series of photographs made over 8 years of the quiet, contemplative existence of Charles Snelling, an elderly man living alone in a small house in Portsmouth, shown alongside pages from Snelling’s own photo albums.

This is probably the image that endeared me to this project since it is so well composed and constructed. The depth of field is just right and the narrative elements are all there in varying levels of focus. A truly superb image among many that I would consider mediochre.

Images that recall Parr and photo album stuff too!

Classroom Portraits, from 2004

This is a project that I can relate to as a teacher! Simple but effective, but maybe twee in the current internet environment. This project was done way back in 2004.

Germain shows different classrooms with different students from different cultures. Th goal is the same, but the clothes and classrooms differ. A really constructive project for cultural acceptance!

Actually, Steelworks is probably the most engaging work Germain has done, in my opinion. The other work on his website does not come up to that standard.

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