I’m engaged in the analysis and production of visual storytelling, drawing on my academic and practice-based experience for both creation and critique.
Fulfilling that purpose means I have a number of roles: writer, researcher, teacher, videographer and producer.
With my writing and research I focus on photography, multimedia and politics. I examine how documentary photography and photojournalism work, the opportunities multimedia bring, and the challenges presented by the revolutions in the new media economy. My aim is to analyse the contexts that shape visual storytelling, so we can produce better photographic and multimedia work that is politically engaging.
With my creative practice I work both as a multimedia producer collaborating with photographers and as a documentarian flying solo. Sharron Lovell and I 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 for ‘Living in the Shadows: China’s Internal Migrants‘. With Peter Fryer I produced ‘The Boarding House‘, which premiered at the 2009 Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography, and we are now working together on a new project called Laygate Stories. I also operate as an advisor/curator/editor for photographers undertaking documentary projects. In May 2012 I began my first documentary video project: in collaboration with the West End Refugee Service, I am telling the stories of some former refugees living in Newcastle. In my spare time (sic) I volunteer my web and video services for FareShare North East, a charity seeking to end food poverty in this part of England.
I’ve written or edited six books and some 50 articles and essays. This research deals with how atrocity, famine, war and ‘Africa’ are represented, how photographs function to visualize the global landscape, and how US foreign policy and wars in Bosnia and Iraq have been produced. I’ve curated three large visual projects (Atrocity, Memory, Photography, Imaging Famine, and the Visual Economy of HIV-AIDS), and gave the 2005 Sem Presser Lecture at the World Press Photo awards. During 2012-13 I directed a research project for World Press Photo - supported by the Fotografen Federatie (Dutch Photographers Association) - on visual storytelling, photojournalism and multimedia.
You will find much of this work on the pages of this site. You can follow my current work through this blog, which was named one of the 10 best photoblogs in the British Journal of Photography (July 2011) and one of LPV Magazine’s top photography websites for 2011. See the Guide for an overview of how this blog and web site are structured.
How did I get to this intersection of photography, multimedia and politics? My career began by working 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, most recently as Professor of International Politics at Newcastle University (1997-2004) and then Professor of Cultural and Political Geography at Durham University (2004-10).
Now I work free-lance and independently, but retain a number of affiliations. I’m a member of the Durham Centre for Advanced Photography Studies at Durham University, 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 the Australian Research Council funded 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. As part of my creative practice I’m a member of the advisory board for the Program for Narrative and Documentary Studies at Tufts University, Boston, led by Gary Knight, I lecture on the MA International Multimedia Journalism located at Beijing Foreign Studies University and I contribute to the Diploma in Multimedia Journalism at the Konrad Adenaeur Center for Asian Journalism at the Ateneo University de Manila in the Philippines.
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.
Portrait by Jonathan Worth