Class Portraits © Anna Brooks and Samantha Harvey.
Amid the rising "paranoia surrounding the laws of photographing children in today's society," two Kingston University photography students have reproduced traditional school photographs with one twist - all the pupils have their backs to the camera
Kingston University students Anna Brooks and Samantha Harvey, both of them having completed a degree in Graphic Design and Photography, have produced a body of work that takes on the ethical issues parents and school photographers are now facing when photographing children.
Class Portraits is a series of classic class photographs in which the only face visible is that of the teacher. The idea sprang from a 2009 incident when the two photographers tried to take photographs of children at a Kingston school. "The headteacher told us we could only photograph one child and only show the back of his head," says Harvey.
"The ethical issues and paranoia surrounding the laws of photographing children in today’s society are confusing and – some would say – farcical,” says Brooks in a statement. "We hope people will be amused by the pictures,” adds Harvey. "But we also wanted to challenge people and ask at what point will the photography of children be completely forbidden?"
The images were taken in two primary schools in Tiptree and Harwich. The headteacher of Mayflower Primary School in Harwich, Steve Springett, comments: "The Ofsted arrangements on child protection have changed so managing school photographs has been a really big issue in the last twelve months."
The images comes a few months after a series of incidents where parents were prevented by security guards and policemen from taking pictures of their own children. In one particular instance, as reported by Amateur Photographer magazine, a man was stopped by police for taking picture of his four-year-old son playing on a train ride. "I took a picture on my phone and suddenly this security guard came up and told me it wasn't allowed because I could be a paedophile," said the father. "I told him Ben was my own son. But he said I couldn't prove it. He said there is a real problem with paedophiles and that if I didn't like it, he'd call the manager."
Schools have also added new restrictions in relation to photography, with some institutions forbidding any parents from taking photos of their own children at sport days and at school plays.
Class Portraits was awarded a D&AD Yellow Pencil and a New Blood Best in Show Award.
‘Class Portraits’ by Anna Brooks and Samantha Harvey
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