Diversity, Economics and Education
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The Story Behind the
TAKING PICTUES IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL CLASSROOM demands
the near impossible from the photographer. Laden with bulky cameras
and other gear, he must disappear within a confined space where
everyone is staring at him but there is no place to hide.
It requires a professional finesse that photographers Mark Berndt
and Gregg Segal have drawn upon from previous assignments. The secret
to dissolving into the background, says Berndt, is patience. "It's
about waiting until your novelty wears off so that the kids go back
to doing what they were doing. I blend in and then sneak up so that
I can try to get that authenticity." Adds Segal, the key is
waiting for just the right moment when "a spark of learning
is reflected in their expressions and gestures."
For this issue, Berndt and Segal were directed to capture moments
that illustrate the alchemy that occurs between teacher and student.
The veteran cameramen fanned out across the Los Angeles area —
from 118th Street Elementary in Watts to UCLA's Corinne A. Seeds
University Elementary School — to bring back remarkable photos
that speak of the extraordinary interplay between teacher and pupil
that occurs in this most ordinary of settings.
Says Berndt: "I love this kind of documentary work, where
you celebrate what people do in their ordinary lives."