PHOTOGRAPHER // Olivia Arthur

Interview by Helena Lee

Olivia Arthur is a British documentary photographer and member of the Magnum photography agency. Originally studying mathematics at Oxford University she later studied photojournalism at the London College of Printing. .. Wikipedea

Bazaar: What draws you to photojournalism?  

Olivia: It’s photography with more story telling. A single image can be amazing and dramatic. I started out shooting individual images for Cherwell [Oxford’s student newspaper], but I found I wanted to have more of a voice: to actually say something. I wanted to do something more personal over a long period of time, with more authorship.

Bazaar: What’s the story you are most proud of telling?

Olivia: Jeddah Diary is my first book, so I am proud of that. It was also the first time I’ve worked with both words and photographs successfully. Saudi Arabia is so conservative. At first there were photographs of women I took that I couldn’t publish – of women without their abayas [the cloak they must wear in public]. So I started writing out little anecdotes about things I couldn’t photograph and wove it in with a more obscure picture and called it “moments that got away”. I realised these worked as well as the photographs by themselves. There are a lot of photographers who feel the story is all in the photographs but I really believe in weaving in complementary words with the pictures.

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