In this first episode of a new monthly conversation series Grant Scott speaks with editor, writer and curator of photography Bill Shapiro. In an informal conversation each month Grant and Bill comment on the photographic environment as they see it. This month they reflect on the role of the gatekeepers and curators, how to approach them and how they should engage with photographers.
Bill Shapiro served as the Editor-in-Chief of LIFE, the legendary photo magazine; LIFE’s relaunch in 2004 was the largest in Time Inc. history. Later, he was the founding Editor-in-Chief of LIFE.com, which won the 2011 National Magazine Award for digital photography. Shapiro is the author of several books, among them Gus & Me, a children’s book he co-wrote with Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and, What We Keep, which looks at the objects in our life that hold the most emotional significance. A fine-art photography curator for New York galleries and a consultant to photographers, Shapiro is also a Contributing Editor to the Leica Conversations series. He has written about photography for the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, the Atlantic, Vogue, and Esquire, among others. Every Friday — more or less — he posts about under-the-radar photographers on his Instagram feed, where he’s @billshapiro.
After fifteen years art directing photography books and magazines such as Elle and Tatler, Scott began to work as a photographer for a number of advertising and editorial clients in 2000. Alongside his photographic career Scott has art directed numerous advertising campaigns, worked as a creative director at Sotheby’s, art directed foto8magazine, founded his own photographic gallery, edited Professional Photographer magazine and launched his own title for photographers and filmmakers Hungry Eye. He founded the United Nations of Photography in 2012, and is now a Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, and a BBC Radio contributor. Scott is the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Routledge 2014), The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Routledge 2015), New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography (Routledge 2019), and What Does Photography Mean To You? (Bluecoat Press 2020). His photography has been published in At Home With The Makers of Style (Thames & Hudson 2006) and Crash Happy: A Night at The Bangers (Cafe Royal Books 2012). His film Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay was premiered in 2018.
Mentioned in this episode:
From 1993-2004, Pitts worked as the founding director of photography for Vibe magazine, a platform that expanded hip-hop to the mainstream, breaking barriers and through photography, visually exposing the genre to a greater audience. In 2004, until it folded in 2007, Pitts joined LIFE as the director of photography when the magazine was revived. As an educator, Pitts was an integral part of the photo program at Parsons The New School for Design since 1998, serving as director of photographic practices and as an assistant professor during his tenure. An inspiration and mentor to countless young photographers and artists, Pitts was tirelessly hands on with the countless students he advised, including noted photographer Ryan McGinley.
A curator, writer, broadcaster, editor and educator renowned for his engaging and rigorous and accessible writing, exhibitions, public speaking, an organisation of ambitious project teams, Campany has worked worldwide with institutions including MoMA New York, Tate, Whitechapel Gallery London, Centre Pompidou, Le Bal Paris, ICP New York, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, The Photographer’s Gallery London, ParisPhoto, PhotoLondon, The National Portrait Gallery London, Aperture, Steidl, MIT Press, Thames & Hudson, MACK and Frieze. Recent curatorial projects include William Klein: Yes – Photographs, Paintings, Films 1948-2013 (International Center of Photography, New York, 2022); ACTUAL SIZE! Photography at Life Scale (International Center of Photography, New York, 2022); A Trillion Sunsets: A Century of Image Overload (International Center of Photography, New York, 2022); Gillian Laub: Family Matters (International Center of Photography, New York, 2021); Alex Majoli: SCENE (Le Bal, Paris, 2019); The Still Point of the Turning World: Between Film and Photography (FoMu Antwerp, 2017). In 2020 Campany curated the three-city Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie 2020 – The Lives and Loves of Images (Mannheim/Ludwigshafen/Heidelberg, Germany), working with 70 artists from 13 countries to produce six thematic exhibitions, a program of public events, and a publication. He has written over over two hundred essays for monographs and museums and twenty books including Indeterminacy: Thoughts on Time, The Image and Race(ism), co-written with Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa (2022), On Photographs (2020), So Present, So Invisible – conversations on photography (2018), A Handful of Dust (2015), The Open Road: photography and the American road trip (2014), Walker Evans: the magazine work (2014), Gasoline (2013), Jeff Wall: Picture for Women (2010), Photography and Cinema (2008) and Art and Photography (2003). Campany contributes to Frieze, FOAM, Aperture, Source and Tate magazines and has received the ICP Infinity Award, the Kraszna-Krausz Book Award, the Alice Award, a Deutscher Fotobuchpreis, and the Royal Photographic Society award.
In 2008, Carrie Scott opened Carrie Scott & Partners, an art consultancy, gallery, and curatorial endeavour. Carrie is an American/English curator, art historian, TV presenter and art writer living in London. Over the past 16 years she has worked with numerous galleries, businesses, collectors and artists worldwide. While at the University of Washington, Seattle doing a Master’s in Art History, Scott was noted curator of the Hedreen Gallery at Seattle University’s Lee Center, and Director of the James Harris Gallery also in Seattle, Washington. While working with James Harris she curated the first solo show of Rashid Johnson’s work outside of Chicago. From there she went on to be Director of Nicole Klagsbrun gallery in New York. Over the past 11 years, Carrie Scott & Partners has worked closely with numerous artists, including Nick Knight, John Pawson, Walter & Zoniel, Marina Shacola, The Harold Feinstein Estate, and Federico Pestilli. Scott also worked with photographer Nick Knight for a decade – from 2009 – 2019 – as Director and Curator of his archive as well as Curator of the SHOWstudio Shop. In 2018, Scott curated the largest independent photography show for the Store x, 180 Strand, A Shade of Pale. Scott has published numerous articles and essays on artists, and appeared as a presenter on The Art Show, where she interviewed artists in their studios.
© Grant Scott 2022
Thanks for the interesting debate. Hope I make it on your list of open minded curators that photographers can talk to, despite a difference of opinion about how to approach. I want merely to be a custodian for artists. It is not about me. Has never been. Will never be. It’s about the work. The photographers. The artists. And it’s certainly not about what party you attended, or what’s trendy. Just look at my exhibition history. I have never picked trendy artists. Quite the opposite.
Thanks for your feedback. Open conversation and debate is always to be encouraged. My comments were based on what I heard and how I interpreted what you said. We all have to be open to interpretation when we broadcast especially when we share the same surname! Best wishes Grant
Totally agree. Open debate is so very, very important. I loved debating this issue with the wonderful David Campany. We all have our own styles. And that should be celebrated.
Thank you Grant Scott and Bill Shapiro for this engaging discussion!
Thanks for the positive feedback