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"We know that people are formed by the light and air, by their inherited traits, and their actions. We can tell from appearance the work someone does or does not do; we can read in his face whether he is happy or troubled."

August Sander

Uniforms is a series of portraits that was initially inspired by the apparent categorization of employees and workers in contemporary Japan. Having grown up in Germany where for historic reasons uniforms and uniformity are avoided, my personal attraction towards uniforms can be reasoned with pure curiosity. However, there are also less subconscious motives for the typological observation in this body of work.

From a distance, one can easily distinguish between taxi driver, parking lot attendant or security guard. Subtle and less subtle differences such as nametags, company emblems and the color of a tie tell a lot about ones profession. Therefore the workers uniform is a direct reflection of individual circumstances. In a country that at first glance seems confusing and unmanageable this visual classification brings some order into the chaos.

In a broader sense, any type of uniform – however professional or casual it might be – is in correlation with ones values, mentality and ultimately also self-respect. The sheer appearance of clothing and grooming can be interpreted as a carte-de-visit grandeur. For any given activity there is a type of uniform to wear whereas work and sports belong to the more obvious ones. Since a uniform can also be interpreted as a byproduct of cultural and sociological background it is once again in correlation with the things you do and places you visit.

As August Sander states above, it is the appearance that tells us about someone’s occupation, happiness or lack of either. Certainly, this project is seeking to characterize a people by their photographic likeliness rather than just by their assumed profession. Since the uniform is merely uniform, the attention is drawn to minute differences in facial expression, stance or posture. Somewhere there, we might extract a condition that is simply unique.

Marco Bohr, 2004
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