GayHist-36 Past                Present


Robert Taylor has published and exhibited widely over the last 30 years, with work in the V&A, the National Portrait Gallery and several other permanent collections. Following service in the RAF and then being called to the Bar, his friendship with the photographer Rotimi Fani Kayode was a major influence in his decision to become a photographer himself. 

Roberts current practice divides between collections of portraits commissioned by academic and scientific institutions including the Royal Society, and Oxford University colleges celebrating landmark anniversaries such as the first admission of women into hitherto all male institutions. He has also undertaken many self initiated projects, some exploring the relationship between image and text in forming an image’s interpretation, others centred around identity, including an on going series initiated by an ICA commission – of portraits of Black British practitioners across the arts. He has also produced work for charities in Africa and HIV charities in the UK.

The secret of producing a good photographic portrait is to engage the subject in a collaborative effort in which both parties bring something to the final result. Clearly this is something present in Robert Taylors engaging and provocative collection of characters.

By including the voices of his subjects as they explore the surprisingly complicated business of being themselves, the whole enterprise becomes more democratic, multi-sided and ultimately worthwhile.
[referring to Roberts trademark use of short interviews in most of his commissioned collections]

                                    Terence Pepper –
Curator of Photographs – National Portrait Gallery


Life Data

Born in England 1950s
Educated at Leicester University (Law Honours)
Trained and qualified barrister, called to the Bar (Gray’s Inn) early 1980s


-Royal Air Force (Air Traffic Control) 1970s
-Educational Publishing in England and Nigeria, early to end 1980s (sex education, automotive engineering and cartography)
-Photography, late 1980s to present

Other work

-Rehabilitation through art in prison ( Koestler Trust ,  trustee and volunteer)
-Sustainable development projects in Ghana (Friends of Tafo, trustee and volunteer)
-Chair of an international panel of judges for a European wide photography competition challenging assumptions about living with HIV, (One Vision, 2004-2007)

 Continuing interests and enthusiasms include:

-the broad range of visual arts
-automotive engineering
-jewellery making and wearing
-public speaking (via Toastmasters)
-contemporary dance
-sustainable sartorials
-walking in central London