Stuart Franklin b. 1956


 Stuart Franklin was born in London in 1956. He studied at Oxford Polytechnic and the Sir John Cass School  of Art under Leonard McComb before completing a BA in photography at West Surrey College of Art and Design. His photographic career began when he started to work for Now Magazine, The Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph Magazine in London and later with Agence Presse Sygma in Paris. During his time at Sygma (1980–85) he absorbed the skills of news photography—covering stories in Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland and Sudan—and also followed Henri Cartier-Bresson’s approach to photography; as he puts it, “curious, gentle, surreal with beautiful compositions – his work influenced just about everything I attempted.”


It was in 1989 that Franklin took his acclaimed photographs in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, where a demonstration for freedom ended in a massacre. After that, he began to move away from news into magazine feature photography. Between 1990 and 2008 he photographed about twenty stories for National Geographic Magazine. During this time, Stuart decided to pursue a better theoretical understanding of some of the issues he confronted, by embarking on a period of academic study in 1995. He graduated with a first class degree in Geography from Oxford University and went on to complete his doctoral thesis there in 2001. Franklin was awarded a professorship in documentary photography in 2016.


Franklin’s deep ecological concern is reflected in his work for Greenpeace in Antarctica (1989), his stories for National Geographic—covering subjects including Inca conqueror Francisco Pizarro and the hydro-struggle in Quebec—his ominous photographic document of Europe’s changing landscape, which culminated in the book, Footprint: Our Landscape in Flux (2008).


In a change of approach to documentary, Franklin undertook a course of training at the UK’s National Film and Television School in observational documentary. Subsequently, Franklin worked on his first long-form documentary Runners, together with film work for ESPN. Recently, Franklin has worked on several short-term photography projects including doctors working in Syria and the immigration crisis in Calais. Recently, he has been a Pulitzer Grant recipient, working on indigenous land rights in Sarawak. Franklin is currently a core research member for the “Vision of Europe” project at the Warburg Institute, London. During the Covid pandemic has worked on two projects: one The Eye of the Storm – a photo-essay from the front line of the 2020 pandemic in a London hospital published in The Sunday Times magazine; the second, in production, London Calling, about life in lockdown during 2021.


Awards include the Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society in 2003 and Pictures Of the Year International Award in 1990. Franklin was the general chair of the World Press Photo jury 2017. His work has been shown in galleries worldwide. He has also co-curated several shows including the Noorderlicht Photo Festival 2009 with an exhibition entitled Point of No Return on the continuing conflict in Gaza.


He has been published by numerous global publications including The Guardian, Sunday Times Magazine, Geo, Art Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, National Geographic Magazine. Franklin has produced eleven books to date. The Documentary Impulse (2016), a book popular with students, investigates the nature of truth in reporting and the drive towards self-representation in photography. Ambiguity Revisited: Communicating with Pictures (2020) examines the role of ambiguity in art in general and photography.


Franklin joined Magnum Photos in 1985 and has been a full member since 1989, serving as the agency’s elected president between 2006-2009.


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