United Kingdom

Julian Germain



Julian Germain (b. 1962) became interested in photography at school and went on to study it at Trent Polytechnic in Nottingham and the Royal College of Art in London. For more than 30 years he has used photography as a vehicle for exploring the world, examining social themes and producing numerous books and exhibitions.

He is well known for his appreciation of archival, amateur and functional photographs and for including them alongside his own pictures in projects such as Steel Works (1990), In Soccer Wonderland (1993) and For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness (2005). Photography’s place in our everyday culture is one of his central concerns and he is one of the founder members (and sits on the editorial board) of Useful Photography magazine.

The experience of collaboration and engagement are also significant, clearly visible in his series of large-format group portraits (Classroom Portraits, 2012) and developed further in the long standing project No Olho da Rua (ongoing since 1995), which is founded on principles of shared creativity with artist colleagues Patricia Azevedo and Murilo Godoy and people living rough on the streets of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. In 2020, the publisher Mörel will begin the release a series of 18 booklets, each focussing on a different theme from the No Olho da Rua archive.


Classroom Portraits

"Considering the importance of school, it seemed strange to me that the subject was so rarely dealt with as a theme in visual art. Accordingly, I began making these large format portraits of classes of schoolchildren in their classrooms. The aim was to make a straightforward record of the space and the pupils in the finest possible detail. I never tell the students how they should look but ensuring that everybody has a clear view of the camera requires concentration and patience. Each pupil has to be aware of their place in the picture. In order to achieve sharp focus in both fore and background, the exposure time is usually a quarter or half a second, so the pupils have to be 'ready' for the moment the shutter is released. I am waiting for them and they are waiting for me. The process itself generates an atmosphere and the time captured in the portrait seems significant." Julian Germain