The Five Photographs that (You Didn’t Know) Changed Everything

BBC Radio 3, The Essay, February 16-20 at 22.45

V0029523 X-ray of the bones of a hand with a ring on one finger
Photographic history… on the radio?

The upcoming series of Essays on Radio 3, brainchild of Elizabeth Edwards, Director of the PHRC, and produced by Rosie Dawson, takes a different photographic history on air. Each of the Essays takes up the challenge of showing just how integral photographs have been and continue to be to our legal systems, to our concept of history and nationality, to how we do medicine, how we travel, and to the notion of our own origins. Surely it is about time, too. Innumerable exhibitions, discussions, articles and news stories exist about iconic photojournalism. And yet, the real strength of photography lies not in its few iconic moments, but in how it changes our lives every day – how it forms disciplines, who gives and who receives it/them, how we use it to construct our identities or the identities of others, in short, what photographs do.

Our series was guided by the belief that so much of our daily lives are connected to, and affected by, photography and the photographic industries it generates, that everyone should be able to think about photography, and for that matter film, critically. Likewise many of our disciplines and institutions are propped up by photographic images of one sort or another. With archival and collection closures in the air, we should care deeply about what happens to historic photographs, especially those that are not protected by virtue of being ‘iconic’ or worth something to the market. Our Radio 3 Essay series will, we hope, be part of that awareness.

The series will be available on BBC Radio 3 iPlayer after transmission.

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