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I am interested in supervising research over a broad range of photographic activity. Essentially my approach is that of a historian and critic: I am interested in understanding work - wherever that may take me - rather than applying pre-set theoretical positions to it. I have particular specific interests in the development of UK photographic institutions, in a number of commercial applications of photography, and in the history (and practice) of criticism in photography; but these by no means limit the areas in which I might supervise.
I have been for many years a writer on photography - specifically a critic for the broadsheet papers. Although I have written a great deal for more technical or speciaiised journals, too, my chosen audience has always been the non-specialist. The reason is to do with photography itself; as a vernacular medium, readily available to everyone and of great influence in all of our lives, it always seemed to me that photography was ill-favoured in the UK for attention, notably in the broadsheet press compared to other media. Where such relatively niche pursuits as opera or literary novels could guaranteee coverage of almost any production at a reasonably hight degree of seriousness, photography (in spite of its huge following) had almost none. As a result, I became one of the early specialist writers on photography in the UK papers, culminating in more than 10 years as the regular critic for the Financial Times, with several hundred reviews to my name. My models in that practice included the string of distinguished specialist writers on Le Monde: Patrick Roegiers; Herve Guibert, Michel Guerrin... It seemed odd to me that the UK could not sustain similar specialists, so I made myself one.
I have written some forty monograph texts on photography - another context in which critical writing can find a home. I have often commmented on photography on radio or televison. I also write all the content on a well-regarded blog on the subject, where the constraints of word-length or of 'topicality' are much less.
Another strand of my interest has been in environmental photography or photography related to sustainable development. I was one of the founders of the Pictet Prize, whose themes are exactly those; it is the largest prize in photography - giving very high visibility to work already in existence, and also providing very large funding for work yet to be made.
Finally, I have been an entrepreneur in a number of businesses dependent on the photograph: I have run galleries, headed the department of photographs at Sotheby's auction house. I was creative director both of Photonica Europe and of Eyestorm, the one a stock library with revolutionary ideas about what might be sold through the stock mechanism; the other the first successful online gallery. This remains an area of great interest (it might be considered applied photography). I continue to be very interested in the new mechanisms of distribution as well as a historian of the old ones.
Research output: Book/Report › Book - authored