time magazine: class pictures





i am mesmerized and moved by this collection of formal photographs of american teens by photographer dawoud bey, which are part of his new book, class pictures (featured on the time magazine website). bey shot and interviewed the diverse group of high schoolers over the course of 15 years, spending approximately three weeks at each school. the honest, heartfelt words of the teens are the perfect accompaniment to his stunning portraiture...the whole project has a feeling of realness and the results are incredibly poignant: some of the children have faced fatal illnesses, discrimination, and the tragic death of loved ones, and have come out the other side with a deep sense of wisdom. many exhibit more than their fair share of intelligence.


upon pondering bey's photos in some depth, it occurred to me why i love this direct style of portraiture more than any other: i am most moved by a photograph of a person when a subject faces the camera directly, unwaveringly.
it is the very same thing i love about some strains of street fashion photography (in the style of fruits, fashioni.st, hel-looks, and a few others).
sometimes, i just want to see something for what it truly is. i like the idea of a photograph being a simple, direct document of the thing or the person. i don't always need the frills of posing or an overabundance of affectations and drama.