PODCAST: A Photographic Conversation, Episode 231: With Bill Shapiro ‘Art Speak’

In this second episode of a new monthly conversation series Grant Scott speaks with editor, writer and curator of photography Bill ShapiroIn an informal conversation each month Grant and Bill comment on the photographic environment as they see it. This month they reflect on the importance of photographer’s writing, the curse of art speak, considering audience, drowning in academic theory and communicating with clarity and understanding.

Bill Shapiro
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 MagazineVanity Fair, the AtlanticVogue, and Esquire, among others. Every Friday — more or less — he posts about under-the-radar photographers on his Instagram feed, where he’s @billshapiro.

Dr.Grant Scott
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:

Bill Jay: (12 August 1940 – 10 May 2009) was a photographer, writer on and advocate of photography, curator, magazine and picture editor, lecturer, public speaker and mentor. He was the first editor of “the immensely influential magazine” Creative Camera (1968–1969); and founder and editor of Album (1970–1971). He is the author of more than 20 books on the history and criticism of photography, and roughly 400 essays, lectures and articles. His own photographs have been widely published, including a solo exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He is known for his portrait photographs of photographers. In 1972 he moved to the United States to enrol at the University of New Mexico under Beaumont Newhall and Van Deren Coke. Jay graduated with an MA on the Victorian landscape photographer Francis Bedford. He founded the Photographic Studies programme at Arizona State University, where he was professor of art history and taught photography history and criticism for 25 years. Jay gave hundreds of lectures on photography as a guest at colleges, universities, art schools and camera clubs in Britain, Europe and the United States.

Elizabeth Avedon: Is a photography book and exhibition designer, independent curator and writer and is a sought after consultant for photographers; editing, sequencing, and advising towards their exhibition, book, and portfolio projects. She serves as faculty for both the BFA Photography and Video, and Masters in Digital Photography departments at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Ms. Avedon is the former Director of Photo-Eye Gallery, Santa Fe; Creative Director for The Gere Foundation; Art Director for Polo Ralph Lauren national advertising; and Photo Editor for Ralph Lauren Media’s RL Magazine. She has received numerous awards and recognition for her exhibition design and publishing projects, including the retrospective exhibition and book, Avedon: 1949–1979 for the Metropolitan Museum of Art NY and Dallas Museum of Fine Arts; Richard Avedon: In the American West for the Amon Carter Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and The Art Institute of Chicago; and exhibition designs for the Estate of Diane Arbus, the Menil Collection, Houston and the Leica Gallery, New York. Along with leading advanced photo-editing and photography book design workshops, Elizabeth continues to participate as a reviewer in many international portfolio reviews including: the Icelandic Photography Festival, Reykjavik, Iceland; the Landskrona Foto Festival Review in Sweden; the New York Times Portfolio Reviews; Review Santa Fe; FilterPhoto Festival, Chicago; Photolucida, Portland. She was a juror for the prestigious 8th Edition Carmignac Fondation Photojournalism Award in Paris and juried the 22nd Annual Peter Urban Legacy Exhibition at the Griffin Museum of Photography. Avedon has been a contributor for many years to Paris based La Lettre, Le Journal de la Photographie and L’oeil de la Photographie, and in 2017, she received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Griffin Museum of Photography.

Stella Kramer: Is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo editor working with photographers all over the world in every genre to help them rediscover their own work and tell their own stories in a new, refreshing way. In her years working all over the publishing world, from The New York Times to Sports Illustrated, she has brought her talents to portfolio reviews, workshops and talks from East Coast to West Coast, overseas and everywhere in between.

Dana Hoey: Is a visual artist working with photography. Her photographs are often ambiguous and have multiple meanings. Her work has been exhibited in the U.S., Germany, Switzerland, and London, England. Her work is included in collections at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, CA; the Middlebury College Museum of Art, VT; the National Museum of Women in the Arts, D.C.; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY. Hoey holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University (1989) and an M.F.A. from Yale University (1997). She also teaches at Bard College, Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts and Columbia University. www.danahoey.com

Dr. 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, documentary filmmaker, BBC Radio contributor and 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). His film Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay was first screened in 2018 www.donotbendfilm.com. He is the presenter of the A Photographic Life and In Search of Bill Jay podcasts.

© Grant Scott 2022


  1. Not on twitter so I won’t contribute to the “firestorm”. I enjoyed this one very much and look forward to the next ones. This one particularly hit home for me, as I have recently been noticed for my work by Jeff Goldstein of Vivian Maier fame, and had to talk about my work, which I find very difficult. Being an introvert and used to flying under the radar, this attention has been nice with a side of anxiety. The advice in this one was very welcome. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: