Pete James is an independent researcher and curator. He was previously Curator of Photography Collections at the Library of Birmingham for over 25 years. He is a double Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society (2009, 2014) and was awarded Advanced Senior in Imaging in the Creative Industries by the RPS in 2014. He was awarded the RPS/Colin Ford Award in recognition of his contribution to photography curatorship in 2009. He is former Chairman of the Committee of National Photography Collections and a founding member of the new Photography Collections Network.
During the course of his career he worked with a wide range of photography organisations in Birmingham including Ten:8, Building Sights, PhotoCall, Arts Council West Midlands, Photopack and Seeing the Light/Rhubarb. He is co-founder (2012) and Co-Director of GRAIN: the photographic hub and network for the West Midlands.
He has developed and delivered partnership projects with a range of academic institutions including exhibitions, PhD supervision, awards, conferences, lectures, research etc. He has been a visiting lecturer at a number of universities including BCU, University of Birmingham, Falmouth, Nottingham, Staffordshire, and Ulster and has presented papers at a range of academic and photographic conferences. He has been a portfolio reviewer at events such as Rhubarb Rhubarb, Format Photo Festival and for GRAIN.
He has researched and curated exhibitions of historical and contemporary photography at institutions including the V&A, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Ikon Gallery, the Library of Birmingham, The Royal Photographic Society, and Museum Africa, Johannesburg amongst other venues. He has written books and essays on historical and contemporary photography in Birmingham and is published internationally. He has organised talks, seminars and symposia, facilitated archive research liaison with artists and students.
Before leaving the Library in October 2015 he completed working on exhibition / publication projects with Mat Collishaw and Broomberg & Chanarin. He was also a speaker at the Fast Forward: Women and Photography conference at Tate and contributed an essay for the catalogue accompany the exhibition At Home with Vanley Burke (Ikon July 2015).
He is currently working on Thresholds, a major virtual reality project with Mat Collishaw based on Talbot’s exhibition of Photogenic Drawings in Birmingham in 1839 which opens at Somerset House in May. He is co-ordinating a one day international symposium on photography studios as part of FORMAT 2017. His current photo-historical research interests focus on the early history of photography in Birmingham.