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For the past fifteen years, Dawoud Bey has made striking, large-scale color portraits of students at high schools across the United States. Depicting teenagers from a wide economic, social, and ethnic spectrum—and intensely attentive to their poses and gestures—he has created a highly diverse group portrait of a generation that challenges teenage stereotypes.
Bey spent three to four weeks in each school, taking formal portraits of individual students, each made in a classroom or other school setting during one forty-five-minute period. At the start of the sitting, each subject writes a brief autobiographical statement. By turns poignant, funny, or harrowing, these revealing words are an integral part of the project, and the subject’s statement accompanies each photograph in the book. Together, the words and images in Class Pictures (September 2007) offer unusually respectful and perceptive portraits that establish Dawoud Bey as one of the best portraitists at work today.