Phillip Prodger

Phillip Prodger Head of Photographs Collection

Job description

As Head of Photographs I oversee acquisitions, research, loan and display of photographs from the 19th century to the present and help shape the Gallery’s photographic exhibitions programme. I also manage the curatorial team in photography, which includes assistant and associate curators and cataloguers. Prior to joining the staff I curated the exhibition Hoppé Portraits: Society, Studio and Street (2011) at the gallery. I am a member of the Gallery’s Senior Management Team.


Growing up in Hong Kong, I developed a strong interest in art and took my first degree in Political Economy and Asian Studies at Williams College in Massachusetts. I taught photography and photographic history at the Hong Kong Arts Centre before taking up a junior post at the Stanford University Art Museum, later obtaining a Master’s degree at Stanford. I went on to study history of art at Cambridge University, where I wrote my Ph.D. thesis on artists in the circle of Charles Darwin. I have held several curatorial posts including at the Saint Louis Art Museum, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Peabody Essex Museum, where I was founding Curator of Photography. In 2013 I received a Focus award for contributions to the appreciation and enjoyment of photography.

Research interests

I began my career as a curator of prints, drawings and photographs and have always had a wide-ranging interest in art. My first photographic projects featured nineteenth century figures Eadweard Muybridge and Charles Darwin, and explored the origins of instantaneous photography. In recent years I have increasingly worked on modern and contemporary subjects, curating projects such as Man Ray | Lee Miller, Partners in Surrealism; and Ansel Adams, At the Water’s Edge, which was shown at the National Maritime Museum, London. I am particularly interested in the interface between still photography and cinema, and photography and literature. I recently published an article on Jack London’s photography and I am currently researching a project about Robert Louis Stevenson’s travels in the South Pacific.

Recent Publications

E.O. Hoppé: The German Work, [Gottingen, Steidl, 2015]

Ansel Adams, At the Water’s Edge, [Salem, Peabody Essex Museum, 2012]

Ernst Haas: Color Correction, (with William Ewing) [Gottingen: Steidl, 2011]

Hoppé Portraits: Society, Studio, and Street,  [London: National Portrait Gallery, 2011]

Man Ray | Lee Miller, Partners in Surrealism [London: Merrell, 2011]

Darwin’s Camera: Art and Photography in the Theory of Evolution, [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010]

Paul Outerbridge: New Color Photographs of California and Mexico, (with Graham Howe and William Ewing) [Portland: Nazraeli, 2009]

Selected Publications

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