Scholarly biography and interests

Stephen Bull is an artist, writer and lecturer, and Course Leader for BA(Hons) Photography at the University of Brighton.

He has exhibited his photographic work at galleries and festivals including Tate Britain, The Photographers’ Gallery, London, Brighton Photo Biennial and Fringe, and the Pingyao International Photography Festival, China.

He has published two books of photographs including Meeting Hazel Stokes (2006) and his photographic work has been appeared in books, magazines and newspapers, including the Telegraph magazine and The Independent. He has also appeared on the BBC.

Bull is the author of Photography (Routledge, 2010), an accessible introduction to photography theory for undergraduate students and he is currently editing the Companion to Photography (Blackwell, forthcoming), a collection of newly-written essays on the subject by leading writers. He has also contributed essays and chapters to books including Fifty Key Writers on Photography (Routledge, 2012), Where Are The People? Contemporary Photographs of Belfast 2002-2010 (Belfast Exposed, 2010) and The Media: An Introduction (Pearson, 2009).

He created and hosted the series of live events Desert Island Pics (2012-), where guests have included photographer Martin Parr, Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, and Simon Baker, Curator of Photography at Tate.

Bull has taught photography in Higher Education full time since 2000 and has been a visiting lecturer at many universities and galleries, as well as contributing to conferences. He has also run courses at Tate Modern.

Stephen Bull is interested in all areas of photography. In his practice as a writer and artist, his key areas of research are snapshots and celebrity, and especially selfies with celebrities. Bull is also fascinated by the digital creation of photographs on mobile phones and their dissemination via social media. As an artist, he applies the technique of ‘found photography’, where he uses photographs that already exist, selecting and re-presenting them to find new meanings in the pictures.

Meeting Hazel Stokes, a series of snapshots of theatre usherette Hazel Stokes backstage with various famous performers, usually photographed by her husband Brian, was shown at the Shoreditch Biennale, London in 1998 and became a book in 2006. In 2007, the series was included in How We Are: Photographing Britain, a survey of British photography from the 1840s to date and the first major exhibition of photography at Tate Britain. Hazel Stokes appears in each image alongside celebrities such as Lionel Blair, Richard Briars, Alvin Stardust, Harry Hill, and June Brown (Dot from EastEnders). With each snap in the series, Hazel becomes increasingly important, transforming into the celebrity that the famous, brought down to earth by their banal surroundings, have come to meet.

Bull's book Photography (Routledge, 2010) includes chapters on snapshots and celebrity photography. Until recently, these areas of photography were rarely studied seriously and the book brings together key studies and develops the analysis of these central aspects of contemporary photography.

Stephen is a member of academy for Deutsche Börse Photography Prize nominations, Portfolio reviewer for Brighton Photo Fringe, and for Portfolio Review Day, Brighton Photo Biennial 

How I like to teach 

My approach to teaching centres on my enthusiasm for other people’s photographs. It is a great pleasure to spend time looking at, thinking about and talking about other people’s photographs – whether this be in a lecture discussing the history of photography and what is happening in photography now, or in a tutorial discussing and debating students’ own photographs and their ideas.

I teach the theory and practice of photography and, although these sessions often come under separate headings, there are a lot of photographs in my theory sessions and a lot of theories in my practice sessions. This makes the links between photographs and the ideas that relate to them clear.

Teaching is about the students, so my approach is centred around the students’ photographs and their ideas. The idea is not to produce students whose work follows the ideas or practice of the lecturers, but to provide an environment in which, informed by an understanding of photography, students can make work that is their own.


Research activity 

Conferences, Symposiums and Panel Discussions


Panellist on ‘Looking Back Today’ at Battle of Ideas 2012, Barbican, London

‘We Are All Photography Geeks Now: Aspiring Amateurs and the Global Camera Club’ Reconsidering Amateur Photography: A Symposium Centre for Research and Development, University of Brighton


The New Pictorialism or The Last Picture Shows Exhibiting Photography conference, University of Westminster, London

‘Famous for a Fifteenth of a Second: Andy Warhol, Celebrity and Fan Photography’ Every Real Moment: Time in the Art of Andy Warhol conference (second event), The University of Southampton


Documentary Aesthetics conference, The University of Brighton, Brighton Photo Biennial 2010

In The Vernacular Style Panel discussion, Friends’ Meeting House, Brighton, Brighton Photo Biennial 2010

‘Famous for a Fifteenth of a Second: Andy Warhol, Celebrity and Fan Photography’ Every Real Moment: Time in the Art of Andy Warhol conference, The University of Wales, Newport.

‘A Kiss For The Cameras: Documentary, Photojournalism and Performance’,Decisive Moment conference, Belfast Exposed.


‘Celebrities in the Street and Studio’, Street and Studio conference, Tate Modern.


What Do You Mean By Photography?  conference, Tate Modern

Feeling Nostalgic? Panel discussion, The Photographers’ Gallery, London

Digital Domestic Photography conference, London Metropolitan University


The Schweppes Photographic Portrait Prize conference, National Portrait Gallery, London


On Being The World’s Most Photographed conference, National Portrait Gallery, London


The Visual Archive Seminar, Tate Modern

Out of the Box: Photography and the Archive conference, London College of Communication

Talks and live events:


Desert Island Photobooks: Joachim Schmid Bristol Photobook Weekend 7/6/2014 (host)

Desert Island Pics (host) [Guests: 18/1/14 Alison Jackson; 16/5/14: Jeremy Deller], London Art Fair; Brighton Festival, Dome Studio Theatre, Brighton

Arnie, Hazel and Me Photology, Hastings


Desert Island Pics (host) [Guests: 9/3/13 Brian Griffin; 18/5/13 Peter Fraser; 25/5/13 Martin Parr; 28/9/13 Mishka Henner; 7/12/13 Simon Baker], Format Photography Festival, Quad, Derby; Diffusion Festival, Ffotogallery, Penarth; Brighton Festival, Brighton Dome, Brighton; Jury’s Inn, Brighton, Jerwood Space, London


Desert Island Pics (host) [Guests: 7/10/12: Anna Fox; 4/1/12: Sean O’Hagan], Brighton Photo Biennial 2012, Marlborough Theatre, Brighton

Arnie, Hazel and Me London College of Communication

‘Digital Photography Never Looked So Analogue’ Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC), London


Photography in the Dock, Ways of Looking international photography festival, City Hall, Bradford

Seven Photographs in Seven Days Grey Area Gallery, Brighton


Seven Photographs in Seven Days The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Waterstones, Farnham

An Evening With Stephen Bull Impressions Gallery, Bradford


Arnie, Hazel and Me The University of Ulster, Belfast

Cross Country (with Richard van der Laken, Designpolitie) UCA, Farnham


Arnie, Hazel and Me De Montfort University, Leicester


Joachim Schmid In Conversation The Photographers’ Gallery, London


The Schweppes Photographic Portrait Prize conference, National Portrait Gallery, London

Joachim Schmid In Conversation Sussex Arts Club, Brighton

Meeting Hazel Stokes Permanent Gallery, Brighton


To Be Honest Phoenix Gallery, Brighton

Essays in books and catalogues


‘Sausages and Fred: Butlin’s Bognor Regis in the 1970s and in Anna Fox’sResort’ in Fox, A Resort 1 Amsterdam: Shilt Publishing


‘Pierre Bourdieu’ in Durden, M. (ed.) Fifty Key Writers on Photography Oxon: Routledge

‘Once Upon A Time… Temporality, Indexicality and Narrative in Telling Stories: Hastings’ Telling Stories: Hastings Hastings: Zetetic Press [catalogue essay]


Photography [author, 70,000-word book] London: Routledge

‘Spectres and the City’ in Downey, K (ed.) Where Are The People? Contemporary Photographs of Belfast 2002-2010 Belfast: Belfast Exposed


‘Photography’ in Albertazzi, D and Cobley, P (eds) The Media: An Introduction (3rd edition) Harlow: Pearson

‘Be Different and Belong’ in Stals, J (ed.) Miguel Trillo: Photo Identities Madrid: Actar


‘The Elusive Author: Found Photography, Authorship and the Work of Joachim Schmid’ in MacDonald, G and Weber, J (eds) Joachim Schmid: Photoworks 1982-2007 Brighton/Göttingen: Photoworks/Stiedl

Monographs of work and photographs published in books and periodicals


Life In Photography 13th Pingyao International Photography Festival 2013 [catalogue] Pingyao: CIP


Anna Fox and Natasha Caruana Behind the Image: Photography and Research Zürich: AVA Publishing


Val Williams and Susan Bright How We Are: Photographing Britain London: Tate Publishing

Reviews and articles


Source 74, 76


Source 69, 70, 72

Photoworks 18


Source 66, 67


Source 61, 62, 63, 64, 65


Source 57, 59, 60

IANN: Contemporary Art Photography in Asia 3


Alaska 1


Photoworks 2, 3

Engage 14


Photoworks 1


Art Review June, November


DPICT 7 Apr/May

Essays and lectures online


”Digital Photography Never Looked So Analogue”: Retro Camera Apps, Nostalgia, and the Hauntological Photograph’ Frame and Reference website


Celebrities in the Street and Studio’ Tate website

Solo and Group Exhibitions


Rites and Wrongs (Having Fun With Photography) 13th Pingyao International Photography Festival, China


Postcards From New Brighton [solo] Facebook, Flickr, Wordpress,YouTube

Night of Photography, Kaunas Photography Festival, Latvia


How We Are: Photographing Britain Tate Britain


Meeting Hazel Stokes [solo] Permanent Gallery, Brighton


A Meeting With A Celebrity [solo] Torch Gallery, Amsterdam



Course Leader Photography, University for the Creative Arts, Farnham


Course Leader BA (Hons) Photography, The University of Portsmouth


Course Leader Photography as Art, Photography and Celebrity, Photography and the City Tate Modern

Citations and reviews

Photography (Routledge, 2010) has been cited in many books and journals and is listed in various bibliographies and on university key readings. Most recently, the book was cited in Daniel Palmer’s essay ‘The Rhetoric of the JPEG’ in Martin Lister ed. The Photographic Image in Digital Culture (second edition) (Routledge, 2014) p.152. I will supply a longer list of citations as soon as possible


Source 62: Review of Photography (Routledge, 2010)


Source 52: Review of How We Are (Tate Britain) where Meeting Hazel Stokes is discussed

Daily Telegraph 19 May: Review of How We Are (Tate Britain) including feature where Stephen Bull is named as one of ‘Three Great Obsessives of British Photography’


Source 42: Review of A Meeting with A Celebrity


Source 37; The Guardian 10 Nov: Reviews of To Be Honest exhibition (Phoenix Gallery, Brighton Photo Biennial) curated by Stephen Bull


Stephen Bull ‘Lionel Blair Meeting Hazel Stokes’ from the series Meeting Hazel Stokes (2006)

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