I am fascinated by the storytelling we know as documentary photography and photojournalism. I examine the disruption in the media economy, its impact on visual journalism, and look at the opportunities ‘multimedia’ brings. I also have a long-term commitment to understanding international politics. My ethos is to provide the context, question assumptions, and explore future options. All of my work is available via the blog and pages on this site.
Recently I have:
- been appointed Secretary to the World Press Photo 2014 contest jury
- directed the World Press Photo Multimedia Research Project, and written and presented its report Visual Storytelling in the Age of Post-Industrial Journalism
- shot and produced a series of videos on the refugee experience for the West End Refugee Service (Newcastle)
- produced the Laygate Stories multimedia project in collaboration with Peter Fryer
- written for TIME magazine’s Lightbox and other photography publications
How did I get to this intersection of the visual, multimedia and politics? I began my career as a press secretary/speech writer for a prominent Australian senator, before completing a PhD in international Relations. For the past two decades I’ve taught visual culture, geography and politics at universities in the US, Australia and the UK, including as Professor of International Politics at Newcastle University (1997-2004) and Professor of Cultural and Political Geography at Durham University (2004-10). Since 2010 I have lectured part time on the MA International Multimedia Journalism located at Beijing Foreign Studies University.
My work was always concerned with how people and places globally were represented. During my academic career I published six books and more than 60 articles, and produced three visual projects (Atrocity, Memory, Photography; Imaging Famine; and The Visual Economy of HIV-AIDS).
I continue to research and write on these topics, but around 2008 I became fascinated with the new digital tools that enable one to produce, publish and distribute work independently, and this reshaped how I work. I have been creating web-based projects since the late 1990s, but by learning Final Cut Pro, using WordPress, and embracing social media I have become a practitioner too. Living in the Shadows, one of the multimedia stories I produced in collaboration with Sharron Lovell, won a ‘Best of the Best’ award in general excellence at The Society of American Business Editors and Writers 2010 annual Best in Business Journalism competition.
Now I work freelance, but retain a number of university links. I’m Visiting Professor in the Northern Centre of Photography at Sunderland University, Honorary Professor in the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland, Australia (where I’m part of a research project on how images shape our response to humanitarian crises) and during Spring 2012 I was the A. Lindsay O’Connor Professor in the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, Colgate University, New York.
These are challenging but exciting times for the production and circulation of visual stories about our world. Contact me if you are looking for a writer, analyst, consultant, educator, documentarian and producer who combines the best of theory and practice.
Photo by Peter Fryer