ARCHIVE: What Does Photography Mean to Me?

A simple question but its simplicity of language is deceptive. I have discovered that the reality of such an enquiry is that it forces the photographer to whom it has been addressed to question the very essence of their relationship with a medium that provides them with a creative outlet that is a visual representation of what they think, believe, experience, and wish to convey. It also introduces reflections concerning outcome versus intent, success versus failure and recognition versus anonymity. It is a question that goes deep.

My decision to approach photographers and ask them to answer such a question was based upon a personal desire to explore my relationship with the medium of photography and visual storytelling. It seemed to be omnipresent throughout my life, but I had never questioned that reality. I had never considered what it meant to me. Where had it come from and how had I sustained my passion for photography? I decided that to help me answer my own questions I would reach out to photographers and those associated with photography to see if they could help me reach some understanding through their reflections and experience.

The responses were generous, illuminating, and honest. Often raw in their passion, considered in their introspection. Most importantly, themes began to develop, themes of approach, intention, and desire. The consistency of these themes surprised me, but also reassured me that my understanding of photography had synchronicities with the people whose images I admired and was interested in.

Storytelling  is a constant foundation for many photographers as is the importance of collaboration. Many reveal a love/hate relationship with the medium, detailing the torment they often feel as part of their photographic process. Others felt the need to place their practice today into the context of their journey, reflecting on those photographers whose words, and images informed their own understanding of the medium. Some are up-beat others more melancholic in their presentation, but all are passionate, informed and engaged. Their words force the listener to stop and take stock, they force self-questioning, reconsidering pre-conceived understanding. They make you think.

Every week we ask a photographer to describe what photography means to them in less than 5 minutes as a piece of audio. This is then included within the A Photographic Life podcast, which is made available for free on this website and on all podcast platforms.

Grant’s book What Does Photography Mean to You? including 89 photographers who have contributed to the A Photographic Life podcast is on sale now £9.99

Here is a list in order of appearance of all of the photographers who have featured so far and their audio contributions:

Ella Murtha

Nick Turpin

Ed Kashi

Al Brydon

Laura Beltrán Villamizar

Craig Aitkinson/Cafe Royal Books

Tom Stoddart

Kitt Woodland

Marc Vallée

Brian David Stevens

Jenny Lewis

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

Rob Hudson

Emma Blau

Burk Uzzle

Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

Tom Oldham

Brian Duffy

Susan Meiselas

Stuart Franklin

Helen Trompeteler

Kenneth Jarecke

David Bailey

Danny North

Mary Ellen Mark

Michael Thompson

Dan Wood

Philip North Coombes

Jim Mortram

Christopher Anderson

Robert Darch

Michael Jackson

Margaret Mitchell

Amy Romer

Brian Griffin


Marc Wilson

David Levenson

Derek Ridgers

Craig Easton

Paolo Roversi

Rachel Boillot

John Sevigny

Alys Tomlinson

Colin Jones

Geoff Waring

Elliott Landy

Guia Besana

Katharine MacDaid

Iain McKell

Guy Martin

Dafydd Jones

Fleur Olby

Chris Floyd

Paul Trevor

Sunil Gupta

Amelia Troubridge

Ian Weldon

Laura El-Tantawy

Sadie Catt

Paul Russell

Colin Wilkinson/Bluecoat Press

John Angerson

Eduardo Soteras Jalil

Venetia Dearden
Robert Trachtenberg
Paul Weinberg
Elinor Carruci
Toby Binder
Trevor Brady
Roger Steffens
Chris Harrison
A.D. Coleman
Julie Hrudova
Sebastian Meyer
Erwin Olaf
Stephen Dupont
Alex Buisse
Homer Sykes
Gideon Lewin
R.J. Kern
Oli Scarff
Roger Stowell
Seth Lower
Anna Boyiazis
Julia Fullerton-Batten
Vinca Peterson
Mark Neville
Jason Bell
Pixy Liao
Wolfgang Susitzsky
Massimo Vitali
Deanna Dikeman
Andrew Jackson
Ragnar Axelsson
Hellen van Meene
Jessica Backhaus
Reuben Wu
Cathal McNaughton
Colin McPherson
Michael Magers
Witold Krassowski
Micaiah Carter
Mandy Barker
Nicholas J.R.White
Nick Wynne
Tim Davis
Danna Singer
Rhodri Jones
Jan Töve
Ethan Hill
Michael Jang
Daniel Meadows
Elin Berge
Melissa Breyer
Nicholas Syracuse
Greg Marinovich
Seamus Murphy
Clare Strand
Nancy Borowick
Yael Martínez
Robin Schwartz
Olivia Rose
Eduard Korniyenko
Richard Beaven
Lois Greenfield
Paul Lowe
Aletheia Casey
Denisse Ariana Perez
Jeremy Leibman
Buku Sarkar
Joseph Szabo
Jasper Goodall
John Bulmer
Mark Klett
Ana Caroline de Lima
Endia Beal
Hugh Hales-Tooke
Norman McBeath
Gary Calton
Melissa O’Shaughnessy
Mona Kuhn
The Guzman
Rachael Wright
Tatsiana Chypsanava
Esther Ruth Mbabazi
Benedict Redgrove
David Eustace
Nolan Ryan Trowe
Jill Beth Hannes
Mark Steinmetz
Jeremy Nicholl
Mik Critchlow
David Corio
Jason Langer
Harry Borden
Fabio Ponzio
Simon Roberts
Tadas Kazakevičius
Frances Scott
Michelle Watt
Peter Fraser
Yukari Chikura
Steve Reeves
Claire Thomas
Kristina Varaksina
Paul Wakefield
Carol Golemboski
Dan Burn-Forti
James Oatway
Marketa Luskačová
Ross McDonnell
Sean Gallagher
David Rothenberg
Richard Ansett
Ashleigh Coleman
Ilona Langbroek
Polly Alderton
Ana Maria Arevalo Gosen
Juan Aballe
Jeffery Stockbridge
Zelda Cheatle
Art Streiber
Frederic Aranda
Ruth Lauer Manenti
Andreas Weinand
Bradley G. Munkowitz (GMUNK)
Alen MacWeeney
Mike Abrahams
Victoria Gewirz
William Saunders
Mimi Plumb
Donwilson Odhiambo
Tricia Porter
Ian Brown
David Butow
Rashod Taylor
Edmund Clark
Learning Photography Special
William Saunders
Dominic Davies

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