Julian Germain- For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds of Happiness (2005)
To support the study of narrative and illustration in photography, my tutor recommended I look at the work of Julian Germain and in particular the “For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds of Happiness” series. He suggested that I could perhaps view the publication at a University Library however as I am currently out of the UK this was not possible. I did however manage to view the images on Germain’s website.
The photographs, taken over an eight year period, capture the quiet, contemplative life of Charlie Snelling, an elderly man living alone in a small house in the south of England. The photographs show the day-to-day activities of Charlie, such as driving, cooking, walking and gardening. This alongside the domestic settings adds to the idea of a quiet life guided by routines. In the majority of the portraits Charlie’s gaze is directed somewhere off camera and this seems to give the viewer the idea that he is deep in thought.
Peppered throughout the series of work there are photographs from Charlie’s family album that offer the viewer a glimpse of Charlie’s life in years gone past. On the yellowing pages, alongside snapshots from family vacations, day trips and flowers are photographs of Charlie’s deceased wife, Betty. Looking at excerpts from Charlie’s family album feels very personal and helps the viewer to piece together the story of Charlie’s life up to that point. By taking the time to select a photograph and arrange it in an album, you glean that the subject, time, place or event was significant.
By including Charlie’s personal photographs alongside the shots that Germain took himself he has opened up the series of photographs to a new level of meaning. On a connotative level, the family album has evoked the idea of time, memory, refection and melancholy.
Photoeye.com allowed me to see a sample of how the photographs were laid out in the book. I noticed that for the family album type shots Germain has chosen to display the double page spread with the scrapbook binding right through the gutter. This seems to make the experience of viewing a family album more authentic.
In term of narrative, Germain has told the story of Charlie’s life is at present and also shows glimpses of what it looked like in the past. The result is a dignified, gentle portrait of Charlie that prompts both emotion and question in the viewer about time, age and family.
More information of Julian Germain and his work can be found at www.juliangermain.com.