What are the best Photography podcasts?

Fri 7 Jul 2023

Examine photography in-depth with top podcast recommendations. 

This post is by Dr Catarina Fontoura, BA Photography Top-Up Lecturer at Falmouth University.

Photography isn’t just about images. Podcasts and interview-based content are great platforms for examining creative and photographic practice in depth, finding new photographers, learning more about image making and getting insights from contemporary creative industries.

These are some of my favourites. Most are long-standing so they are a valuable resource with an extensive bank of episodes. I challenge you to listen to one episode of each podcast and find out which one is your favourite.  

The Messy Truth 

Hosted by Photo Director Gem Fletcher, The Messy Truth is a series of candid conversations around contemporary photography. In it, you can hear from a whole host of photographers, artists, curators, writers, and critics about the intricacy of image-making and meaning-making, linking to topics such as representation, power, mental health and more.   

The episode with the artist Jess T. Dugan is particularly powerful. Gem and Jess discuss what it takes to cultivate and maintain an artistic practice. Jess openly and honestly relays what they have learn from their own journey and how the mantra ‘meet everyone, learn everything’ fueled their approach to crafting a practice and a business. They discuss it all, from developing relationships, holding space for reflection, building a community around one’s creative work to what true representation means.   

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The Scenario podcast, written and produced by photographic artist Jessica McDermott, explores hidden stories from behind the lens. Each episode follows an inspiring photographer and a fascinating project they are working on. For instance, one photographer takes powerful, unposed photographs of staff and patients at NHS hospitals, while another takes pictures of the outside world for her death-row pen-friend.  

This innovative podcast also interacts with installed art works. For instance, in episode 22, Jessica follows Jenny Lewis, a Hackney resident and portrait photographer who has made three engaging photographic series around her Hackney community. The episode takes the listener on an immersive journey through her studio and on a tour to see her portraits in locations across Hackney.  

Great Women Artists 

Great Women Artists, presented by art historian and curator, Katy Hessel, interviews artists on their career, or curators, writers, or general art lovers, on the female artist who means the most to them.  Although this podcast is not exclusively about photography, it does feature the work of many woman photographers with great rigor, complexity, and critical thinking. Photography highlight episodes include the work of Tina Modotti, Cindy Sherman, Tacita Dean, Ana Mendieta, Francesca Woodman, Shirin Neshat and Juno Calypso. 

An episode not to miss is Catherine Opie’s, a renowned photographer of portraits of people, landscapes and the urban environments of American society. Opie uses the tool of the camera to explore sexual and cultural identity.

First picking up a camera aged nine, it was in the 1990s that she began to gain recognition for her studio portraits of gay and transgender communities who appear painterly and defiant, powerful, and regal. Linked by notions of complexity, community, visibility and empathy, Opie’s photographs tell a story about the society in which we live. 

Speaking about her work Opie has said, "From early on, I wanted to create a language that showed how complex the idea of community really is, how we categorize who we are as human beings in relation to places we live."

A Small Voice : Conversation with Photographers 

This podcast brings listeners fortnightly in-depth interviews with world-class photographers, from established, award-winning and internationally exhibited stars to young and emerging talents, discussing their lives, work and process with fellow photographer, Ben Smith. 

This podcast will spark the interest of listeners who are curious about the hidden creative processes of some of the world’s most renowned photographers, giving a window into what these image-makers think, their experiences and their lives as photographers.  

The title of the podcast ‘A Small Voice’ is a tip of the hap to W. Eugene Smith who once said: "Photography is a small voice, at best, but sometimes one photograph, or a group of them, can lure our sense of awareness."

It also reflects the host’s deep roots in documentary photography and photojournalism, so it does feel particularly relevant for this genre. However, the podcast does an excellent job of engaging a very diverse range of photographic practice.  

Highlight include the Stephen Shore episode, where the legendary American photographer talks about experimentation, ambition, the three phases of mastering a discipline and being attentive in the midst of life.

In another episode, Paul Graham discusses discovering photography, working in colour, self-publishing, ‘post-documentary’ and how capturing ‘the world as it is’ is still the highest calling of the medium. 

The episode with British documentarist Anna Fox is also not to be missed. In this interview Fox talk about making work during lockdown, having far too many ideas, collaboration and the exploration of the everyday. 

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