PODCAST: A Photographic Life, Episode 102: Plus Photographer Ragnar Axelsson

In episode 102 UNP founder and curator Grant Scott is in his shed reflecting on the relationship between photography and travel; a potential re-evaluation of visual storytelling and photography as a passport.

Plus this week photographer Ragnar Axelsson takes on the challenge of supplying Grant with an audio file no longer than 5 minutes in length in which he answer’s the question ‘What Does Photography Mean to You?’

Ragnar Axelsson was born in 1958, and for over 40 years, has been photographing the people, animals, and landscape of the most remote regions of the Arctic, including Iceland, Siberia, and Greenland. A photojournalist at the Icelandic newspaper Morgunbladid since 1976, he has also worked on assignment in Latvia, Lithuania, Mozambique, South Africa, China, and Ukraine and his photographs have featured in LIFE, Newsweek, Stern, GEO, National Geographic, and Time, and have been exhibited widely. Ragnar has published seven books in various international editions, these include Andlit Nordursins (The Face of The North), that was published in 2016, with a foreword by Mary Ellen Mark, and won the 2016 Icelandic Literary Prize for non-fiction. His most recent, Jökull (Glacier)was published in 2018. Ragnar’s work has been recognised through numerous Icelandic Photojournalist Awards; The Leica Oskar Barnack Award (Honorable Mention); The Grand Prize, Photo de Mer, Vannes; and Iceland’s highest honour, the Order of the Falcon, Knight’s Cross. Ragnar is currently working on a three year project documenting people’s lives in all eight countries of the Arctic. https://rax.is

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-lifeand 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 and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, 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 book New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography was published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2019.

The documentary film, Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay can now be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=wd47549knOU&t=3915s.

© Grant Scott 2020



  1. Thank you, Grant for another insightful, thought provoking narrative. Thank you too for introducing Ragnar to us. I do think his work in documenting life at the frontier is critical as the rate of change accelerates. (I have a different opinion on 2 of his assertions though a. “the young generation want a different kind of life, they watch TV, they want to see James Bond” – I must assume that’s his observation in the northern community he documents and not a generalisation. b. “some people say it (photography) is dead” – I only hear & see that it’s ballooning at an exponential rate, myself.)

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