PODCAST: A Photographic Life, ‘Christmas Special’, Episode 35: Plus Photographer Jim Mortram

In this Christmas Special UNP founder and curator Grant Scott is in his festive shed looking back on the past year and thinking about photography’s relationship with Christmas.

To continue the Christmas message photographer Jim Mortram provides an alternative option to the Queen’s speech by taking on the challenge of supplying Grant with an audio file in which he answer’s the question ‘What Does Photography Mean to You?’ Because Jim is definitely on Santa’s ‘good list’ he has given him an extra 5 minutes to fulfil the task.

Jim Mortram is a British social documentary photographer and writer, based in Dereham, Norfolk in the East of England. His ongoing project, Small Town Inertia, records the lives of a number of disadvantaged and marginalised people living near to his home, in order to tell stories he believes are under-reported. His photographs and writing are published on his website, and has been published by Café Royal Books in 2013, and in the book Small Town Inertia published by Bluecoat Press in 2017.

Mortram began the Small Town Inertia website in 2006 with the “Market Town” stories. Its name is a reference to the market town of Dereham, where he lives, fifteen miles west of the city of Norwich in Norfolk. Through photography, his writing and the subject’s own words, Mortram records the lives of the disadvantaged and marginalised, making repeated visits with a number of people living within three miles of his home. Small Town Inertia tells stories of “isolation, poverty, drug abuse, homelessness, self-harm, mental illness, juvenile crime, and epilepsy”, that Mortram believes are otherwise under-reported. Dave Stelfox wrote in The Guardian that “Mortram’s rich, black-and-white images possess a timeless quality that invites easy comparison with the classic documentary work of such British photographers as Chris Steele Perkins, Paul Trevor and Chris Killip.” An exhibition of the work titled Small Town Inertia will be shown at the Side Gallery, Newcastle, England, Saturday 12 January 2019 – Sunday 24 March 2019. https://smalltowninertia.co.uk

You can also access and subscribe to these podcasts at SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/unofphoto on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/a-photographic-life/id1380344701 on Player FM https://player.fm/series/a-photographic-life and Podbean www.podbean.com/podcast-detail/i6uqx-6d9ad/A-Photographic-Life-Podcast

Grant Scott is the founder/curator of United Nations of Photography, a Senior Lecturer in Professional Photography at the University of Gloucestershire, a working photographer, and the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Focal Press 2014) and The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Focal Press 2015). His next book #New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography will be published by Bloomsbury Academic in January 2019. He is currently work on his next documentary film project Woke Up This Morning: The Rock n’ Roll Thunder of Ray Lowry.

His documentary film, Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay will be screened across the UK and the US in 2018.

© Grant Scott 2018


  1. I loved this too. The sheer unexpectedness of photographer Jim Mortram’s words entered my bones (as did my unpreparedness for them). I have not before heard such a riveting heartfelt delivery of words and feeling, as hithertoo, my own exposure to most photographic talk over the decades has been focused on the somewhat ‘me,me, me-perspective of camera-speak, exhibitions, publishing payouts, income gains and status, etc. Mortram’s loving passion for life, photography and people, and bearing witness to ‘What Is’ in the world around him is a wake-up call – and his final words,”There is so little listening happening” are so, so true.
    Is there a transcript available of his words?

  2. He’s slighter posher than he makes out isn’t he. It’s brilliant to se his work, but what this has done really is shown how he has had misfortune but as a middle class man, and it makes sense now. People who have had it hard since birth don’t talk like Jim does, he is the working class that you middle class want him to be. So disapointed

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