Press "Enter" to skip to content


Helen writes extensively on photography for exhibition catalogs, artists’ monographs, and edited books. Her unwavering commitment to elevating the vision of underrepresented artists is the foundation of all her writing. She frequently considers how ways of seeing inherited from the past affect the expression of individual and collective experience today.

Selected books and writing on photography

Silver Eye Center for Photography

Helen produces new writing on photography for every exhibition at Silver Eye. This includes Gallery Guides providing insight into exhibiting artist’s practices and Education Guides, which prompt viewers to consider new perspectives and make connections with works on view. Together these guides aim to encourage visitors to explore many ways to make meaning and share ideas about visual art.

Explore Silver Eye’s archive of Gallery + Education Guides at

Image credit: Photograph by Tara Geyer | Courtesy Silver Eye Center for Photography

Holding Still: Grounding the personal and political in The Front Yard by Bryan Martello 

Bryan Martello exhibited his series The Front Yard at Bunker Projects in Pittsburgh, PA in the Fall/Winter of 2023. In response to this series, my essay considers the complicated boundaries between public and private, personal and political, that coexist in these spaces. I reflect on Martello’s questioning of visual and textual languages, especially concerning black-and-white photography. My essay ultimately considers how the front yard can sustain self-identity, memory, and values that ground our lives.

Image credit: Bryan Martello, Owl, Courtesy of the artist

MFA in Photography, School of the Art Institute of Chicago 2024 Publication

Every year, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago invites a curator/writer of photography to collaborate with the cohort of MFA Photography students to develop a publication of current student work. Helen was honored to be the 2024 visiting curator and writer, working with the students alongside project coordinator Jan Tichy and designer Lucas Reif to curate the 2024 publication. Her introductory essay ‘To Live in This World’ situated the students’ work within new directions in contemporary photography while considering the organic framework of values expressed through their work.

Learn more about some of the artists by exploring their 2024 Graduate Exhibitions online.

Radial Survey Vol.3

Designed by Studio Elana Schlenker, and made possible in part through generous funding from The Leonian Foundation and Henry Simonds, this new publication celebrates the third edition of Silver Eye Center for Photography’s biennial survey.

The catalog features an in-depth look at Radial Survey Vol.3 artists Akea Brionne, Larry W. Cook, Alanna Fields, Marissa Long, Eduardo L. Rivera, Shane Rocheleau, and Lisa Toboz, and original essays by Anna Mirzayan, Sean Beauford, Silver Eye Executive Director Leo Hsu, and Deputy Director of Programs Helen Trompeteler.

Purchase the publication at

‘Learning and Unlearning to See’ in Cutting Holes for Eyes: Nicole Czapinski and Centa Schumacher

Nicole Czapinski and Centa Schumacher are artists highly influenced by material exploration. Their exhibition Cutting Holes for Eyes at Associated Artists of Pittsburgh features a new body of work made possible by the trust built between the artists through their collaborative process. This short essay features in the accompanying limited-edition publication designed by Makenzie O’Connor and produced by Point Line Projects.

Silver Eye Benefit Auction 2022 Catalog

Published to accompany Silver Eye’s Benefit Auction 2022, this unique publication surveys all 100 auction lots and the artists that created them. This limited edition full-color publication reflects the breadth and depth of Silver Eye’s programs, and serves as an enduring statement on Silver Eye’s extended community.

Purchase the catalog at or download a pdf version

Silver Eye Benefit Auction 2022 Lot 20: Dylan Everett, Blue Roses with Dust, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

Challenging the Canon: Olga Yatskevich on Photobook History

Officially released on 1 November 2021, What They Saw: Historical Photobooks by Women 1843–1999 was recently shortlisted for the Paris Photo – Aperture Foundation Catalogue of the Year Award 2021. Helen recently spoke with Olga Yatskevich about 10×10 Photobooks’ ongoing exploration of photobook history and the underrepresentation of women in this field. 

Read their conversation on the Pittsburgh Photo Fair website.

Courtesy 10 x 10 Photobooks

Reimagining Aperture: In conversation with Sarah Meister

Following an exceptional curatorial career at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Sarah Meister joined Aperture as Executive Director in May 2021. Helen recently spoke with Sarah about Aperture’s history, her vision for its future, and the central role of photography in our contemporary experience.

Read their conversation on the Pittsburgh Photo Fair website.

Final edition of Aperture issue 1, 1952, featuring an untitled photograph by Dorothea Lange. Courtesy The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art Museum. Bequest of Minor White. Copyright © Trustees of Princeton University

Sotheby’s Photographs at 50: Brandei Estes on Collecting

This year Sotheby’s celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first photographs auction, which took place at Sotheby’s London in 1971. Coinciding with this occasion, Helen spoke with Brandei about the evolution of the art photography market. They discussed what drives her passion for photography and her advice for new collectors.

Read their conversation on the Pittsburgh Photo Fair website.

Horst P. Horst, ‘Mainbocher Corset’ Paris, 1939 © Estate of Horst P. Horst / Courtesy Sotheby’s. Lot 32 from 50 Masterworks to Celebrate 50 Years of Sothebys Photographs, 22 April 2021.

Photography in Four Dimensions: Paul Messier on Conservation

An interview with Paul Messier about the extensive collection of historic photographic papers he assembled, now held at Yale. Helen and Paul discussed recent projects from his expansive career in conservation and current challenges in the field. 

Read their conversation on the Pittsburgh Photo Fair website.

Packages of paper from the Messier Reference Collection of Photographic Paper. Image credit: Paul Messier

Queen Victoria and the photographic expression of widowhood

19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 2022 (33)

This essay reveals the photograph of the mourning widow as more than just an illustration of Victoria and her grief; rather it shows how the medium of photography shapes that grief and makes it useful for monarchy and empire.

Queen Victoria and Princess Beatrice by Louis Joseph Ghemar, 1862 (detail) © Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020

Archaeology and Photography: A Historical Overview

Publication forthcoming

From September 2020 – January 2021, Helen worked as an advisor to the British Museum. She researched a set of historical photographs related to Tello (ancient Girsu) in southern Iraq. Her commissioned writing for the British Museum considered the foundational links between photography and archaeology in the mid-19th – 20th century.

Interior of the British Museum by Roger Fenton, 1854-1858 © Victoria & Albert Museum

Photography and the Family Album

Living Memory: Life Stories and Photographs from the Black Country (2020)

A commissioned essay on the traditions of the family album for the book of The Living Memory Project, which celebrates photographic collections and life stories from across the Black Country, England.

Photograph © Annie Spratt

‘Prince Albert, Photography and Scotland’ in Studies in Photography

Scottish Society for the History of Photography, Winter 2020

The bi-annual journal ‘Studies in Photography’ aims to be a catalyst for discourse on Scottish photography.

Scottish Society for the History of Photography, Winter 2020 Issue

‘Photography and Politics in The Woman’s Dreadnought’ in East End Suffragettes: the photographs of Norah Smyth

Four Corners (2018)

This essay was included in the publication which accompanied the first ever exhibition of Norah Smyth’s photographs at Four Corners, London, in 2018.

An ELFS stall on Roman Road selling The Woman’s Dreadnought © Estate of Norah Smyth

‘Portraiture as Question: Reflections on ‘You Get Me?’ (2017)

A commissioned essay on the work of photographer Mahtab Hussain.

Red hijab, red dress and bling © Mahtab Hussain

Interview: Marilyn Stafford (2017)

This interview accompanied the exhibition ‘Stories in Pictures 1950-1960’ at Art Bermondsey Project Space.


Boulogne-Billancourt © Marilyn Stafford

Book review: When War Is Over by Daniel Alexander & Andrew Haslam (2016)


Delhi War Cemetery, India: 1022 Commonwealth Casualties Commemorated. © Daniel Alexander

Cinema Portraits: Transforming Traditions in Nollywood Portraits: A Radical Beauty

Skira Editions (2016)

A commissioned essay on the traditions of cinema portraiture, for the publication which accompanied exhibition ‘Iké Udé: Nollywood Portraits’ at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago.

Genevieve Nnaji © Iké Udé 

Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon

National Portrait Gallery, London (2015)

This publication accompanied a record-breaking exhibition which Helen co-curated for the National Portrait Gallery in 2015. This first major UK exhibition to examine the photographic iconography of Audrey Hepburn was supported by the Audrey Hepburn Estate.

The book has subsequently been published in multiple language editions including German and Japanese.

Front cover of Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon (2015)

Interview: Todd Hido

This interview accompanied the publication of Excerpts from Silver Meadows (Nazraeli Press, 2013)

Of the Afternoon (Issue 5, 2014)

Photographs © Todd Hido

Interview: Glen Erler

This interview accompanied the publication of Family Tree (Kehrer Verlag, 2013)

Of the Afternoon (Issue 4, 2014)

Photograph © Glen Erler

Man Ray Portraits 

National Portrait Gallery, London (2013)

Author of a detailed illustrated chronology for this book on Man Ray’s life and work which accompanied the first museum retrospective of Man Ray’s innovative photographic portraits, which Helen served as Associate Curator for the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Front cover of Man Ray Portraits (2013)

Exhibition review: ‘Lifework: Norman Parkinson’s Century of Style’ at the National Theatre, London (2013)


Wenda Parkinson in a coat by Aquascutum, Vogue, November 1947 © Estate of Norman Parkinson

Collections: Lucia Moholy (2012)

A commissioned essay examining the life and work of modernist photographer Lucia Moholy.


Bauhaus Building, Dessau, by Lucia Moholy, 1926 © Lucia Moholy Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Brian Duffy: The Man Who Shot the Sixties (2011)

A commissioned essay on documentary fashion photographer Brian Duffy for the exhibition catalogue of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale.

Fashion for ‘Vogue’, Florence, 1964 © Estate of Brian Duffy