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Writing

Helen is regularly commissioned to write texts for international publications, including artist monographs, exhibition catalogues, edited books, and arts magazines. Helen’s books include Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon (2015) and Man Ray Portraits (2013). Her contributed essays include for the publications Living Memory: Life Stories and Photographs from the Black Country (2020), East End Suffragettes: the photographs of Norah Smyth (2018), and Iké Udé Nollywood Portraits (2016). 

Highlighted below are selected publications that reflect Helen’s diverse expertise in photography and its histories. Helen is available for new writing commissions and can be contacted via e-mail.

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.

Christina Broom and Isabel Marion Seymour, WSPU Postcards Album. 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

Publication forthcoming

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.

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Boulogne-Billancourt © Marilyn Stafford

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

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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 at the National Portrait Gallery in 2015.

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.

Front cover of Man Ray Portraits (2013)

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

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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.

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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