Professor David Chandler

Professor David Chandler

Honorary Professor of Photography

Discretionary Member


Programme tutor – MA 'Photography and the Book' and MA 'Photography and the Land'

Programme tutor – MFA Photographic Arts
Programme tutor – BA Photography

Member of the Photography Research Group and the 'Land/Water and the Visaul Arts' Research Group.

My interest in photography began within the context of art history and has been developed since 1982 through various curatorial roles in museums and galleries, including the National Portrait Gallery, London (1982-88) and The Photographers' Gallery, London (1988-95). Now I work principally as a writer, editor and curator, in the fields of contemporary photography, photographic history and the visual arts. This work often stems from a close association with photographers, artists and organisations, either professionally as a commissioner of projects, or more generally as a participant in the processes of making and thinking about work. Collaboration is, therefore, an important principle and activity in all my work, as is an enthusiasm for cross-disciplinary projects that bring together distinct disciplines and experiences. These ideas were a driving force behind my role as Director of Photoworks, Brighton (1997-2010), where, among other things, I initiated a major series of site-based commissions and over thirteen years worked closely with a range of very different photographers and artists. The ideas have also informed my activities as a publisher of photographic books, especially at Photoworks, and I have developed a particular interest in the practice and process of book making, something underpinned by the firm belief in the book as a primary site for the photographic image.

Staff serving as external examiners

External Examining experience: 

  NorthbrookCollege, Worthing (BA Photography)

  MiddlesexUniversity (BA Fine Art)

  SouthamptonSolent University (BA Photography)

  Universityof the Creative Arts, Farnham (BA Photography)

PhDExternal Examiner at:

  Universityof Sussex

  Universityof Wales (Newport)


  Universityof the Arts, London

  Universityof Brighton

  Universityof the Creative Arts, Rochester

Research interests

My researchevolves from collaborative relationships with contemporary photographers andartists that are developed over time. These relationships generate a dialoguethrough which I lend support, curatorial advice and a critical perspective onthe artist’s work, a process that most often results in a piece of writing for apublication, exhibition or event, or in some cases for all of these things. Importantlyfor me, there is no binding thematic thread to this research. The artists andthe work I develop with them represent a wide range of practices and the collaborativeprocess demands that our shared interests are discursive, that ideas open outfrom our discussions and meetings. However, certain subjects do recur acrossthis work and provide something of a loose framework for my research ­– landscape,the idea of place, memory and journeying are among them – and these subjectsare contextualised by the key research themes of the Photography Research Grouphere at Plymouth: for example, Photography and Landscape, Photography and theBook, Interdisciplinary Practices, Photography and Writing.

My ownwriting has a primary interpretive function but also, in almost every case,aims to build a broader cultural and historical context for the artist’s work.In general the essays are not written specifically for a research community andare often commissioned by a public institution or a publisher; so, combining asense of critical rigour with the demands of a broad audience is usually animportant balance to strike. Over the years in doing this I have developed aninterest in writing that does not comply with more formal academic approaches butcombines critical analysis, and elements of art and cultural history, with moreliterary forms: biography, documentary journalism, travel writing, storytellingand in some instances fictional passages and autobiography. In this it finds echoes in a tradition of ‘creativenon-fiction’ but also acknowledges the unique relationship between photographsand writing as distinct but potentially complementary creative practices.

This approach has been shaped over a period of thirty years working as acurator for various arts organisations, and during the last ten years or so theyhave developed further through sustained working relationships with a number ofleading photographers and artists, including: Jem Southam, Paul Graham, OriGersht, Helen Sear, Dryden Goodwin, Peter Fraser, Susan Derges, Bettina vonZwehl, Mark Power, John Kippin, David Spero, Nigel Shafran and Anna Fox.    

Creative practice & artistic projects

Dark Formations, an audio/visual collaboration between David Chandler and the composer Ed Hughes (University of Sussex) in association with the Imperial War Museum. Was premiered at King's Place, London, September 2010.

Recent essays have been published in the following books:

• David Moore,  Pictures From The Real World,  Dewi Lewis Books, 2013

• Anna Fox, RESORT 1 and RESORT 2,  Schilt Publishing (Amsterdam) 2013 and 2015

• Ori Gersht, History Repeating (E-Book),  Museumof Fine Arts, Boston, USA, 2014

• Tom Wood,  Looking For, Looking For  Love,  Sorika Books, London, 2014.

• Bettina Von Zwehl,  Made Up Love Songs, V ictoriaand Albert Museum, London, 2015.


  Paul Graham, The Whiteness of The Whale,  Pier24, San Francisco/MACK Books, London, 2015


  Thom and Beth Atkinson,  Missing Buildings,  Hwaet Books, London, 2015.

•  Sian Davey,  Looking For Alice,  Trolley Books, London, 2015.

•  STRANGEand FAMILIAR ( ExhibitionCurated by Martin Parr).  Book published by the Barbican Art Gallery and Prestel Books, 2016.

•  Nigel Shafran, Dark Rooms,  MACK Books,London, 2016

Also, Dark Formations, an audio/visual collaboration with the composer Ed Hughes in association with the Imperial War Museum. Was premiered at King's Place, London, September 2010.

Reports & invited lectures

Recent Public Talks/Lectures

September 2015          In conversation with Paul Graham,Waterstones, Piccadilly

March 2013                 Peter Fraser in Context, TateSt Ives, (Day Symposium)

June 2012                    New British Colour in the 1980s, Le Bal, Paris

January 2011               In conversation with SusanDerges and Garry Fabian

Miller; Victoria & Albert Museum, London    

May 2010:                        Commissioning Photography, Next-Photography, Essen, Germany.

January 2010:                 New British Photography, La Triennale di Milano, Design Museum, Milan.

January 2010:                 In conversation with Ori Gersht, Sallis Benney Theatre, University of Brighton

November 2009:            In conversation with Martin Parr and Grayson Perry, LCC, University of the Arts, London.

November 2009:            Robert Adams, Award lecture at the Ceremony for the 2009 Hasselblad Award, Gothenburg, Sweden

October 2009:                 In conversation with Mitch Epstein, The Photographers’ Gallery, London

October 2009:                 In conversation with Helen Sear, Hooper’s Gallery, London

March 2009:                    In conversation with Paul Graham, The Photographers’ Gallery, London

March 2009:                    Stills Moving: Interrupting the Real World, Chair of Panel Discussion with Emily Richardson, Dryden Goodwin and Ori Gersht, Animation Breakdown Study Day, Tate Modern, London

October 2008:                 In conversation with Dryden Goodwin, The Photographers’ Gallery, London

Other academic activities

Membership of Professional Award Committees in Photography:

2001 Citibank Photography Prize, The Photographers’ Gallery,


2003 Jerwood Photography Awards, Portfolio, Edinburgh

2006 Photographic Portrait Prize, National Portrait Gallery, London

2007/8 Hasselblad Award, Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg


2008/09 Chair, Hasselblad Award, Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg, Sweden

2009 Kraszna-Krausz Award, London

2009 Photoworks Fellowship, British School at Rome

2009/10 Riccardo Pezza Award. Museum of Contemporary Photography, Milan

2011- Present      Member Deutsche Börse Foundation Prize Academy, The Photographers’

                            Gallery, London

2013        Prize Architekturbild (European Architectural Photography Award), Stuttgart.

2014        Bar Tur Photography Award, The Photographers’ Gallery, London

2015        Gabriele Basilico Prize, Ordine degli Architetti, Milan 

2016        MACKFirst Book Prize, MACK Books, London