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Issue 37 Lifestyle

The Apprentices 

by Tosten Burks

July 9, 2016

The apprenticeship can seem a dying art, its central tenets a shadow of how we used to live, how legacies outlive us. As much a casualty of late capitalism as the professions it propagated, the craftsman-apprentice relationship represents an ideal now labeled “professional development,” advertised as a work “benefit,” a privilege. Yet smiths, cobblers, and bakers invested in their replacements not as a way to attract new employees, but to secure the fate of timeless skills, crafts sustained only through endless cycles of training. Trade as tradition, spanning generations, with the humble apprentice preserving its integrity. Charles Fréger began photographing apprentices in France more than a decade ago—painters, florists, fromagers—amassing hundreds of images that explore individuality within storied work environments. The portraits feel like artifacts, refreshed by their subjects’ youth, salvaging a heritage far beyond the frame.

Coppersmith
Baker
Cheese Maker
Cheese Maker
Midwife
Painter

Photos by Charles Fréger 

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The Apprentices