Paul O'Leary

Senior Lecturer

School of Digital, Technologies and Arts

As a socially-engaged photographer Paul O’Leary records the time in which we live and the lives of others. His current practice explores post-industrial towns/cities, looking at old/new forms of civic identity. He’s exhibited extensively in solo, and group shows, and his work resides in public and private collections.

In his role as Course Leader in Photography at Staffordshire University he has preserved strong national and regional industrial links that have enabled him to introduce his students to other photographers for work-experience, workshops and talks. These practitioners include Clement Cooper, Rut Blees Luxemburg, Joy Gregory, Simon Norfolk, Harry Borden and Sian Davies. As well as inviting worldwide, celebrated image-makers to the course he’s also brought in friends and colleagues who work nationally and regionally to give real-life, vocational and employment currency.

He is also the founder/director of an award-winning international photography festival that promotes photographic thinking and practice amongst undergraduate and postgraduate photography students.

He is currently working on an International collaboration with partners in the USA, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Vietnam, Lebanon, France, Italy and New Zealand.

Professional memberships and activities

  • Member Association for Photography in Higher Education
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Academic qualifications

  • Master of Arts, Photography
  • Bachelor of Arts, Photography
  • FHEA (Fellow of the Higher Education Academy)


  • Director of International Photography Festival
  • Site specific and responsive art
  • Art as a community expression
  • Visual arts-based research
  • Authorship
  • Representation
  • Identity


2014- 2022

Festival Director - Photocitizens- - USA, Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Lebanon, New Zealand, Ireland, Vietnam and UK 2022
Perspectives Exhibition. CICA Museum, South Korea 2022
We are Northampton Commission and Solo Exhibition 2021
Presenter -SPE Conference-
Uncertain Times: Borders, Refuge, Community, Nationhood, The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, 2018
Winner of the APHE Photographic Education Award 2017 with Bloomsbury Publishing.
Presenter - APHE; Human Interfaces Conference, Norwich University, 2017
Festival Director - Photocitizens- - Athens, Budapest, Istanbul, Murcia, Paris & Rome.
Guest Artist - Little Selves – New Walk Art Gallery – Leicester 2017
Presenter - AOC Research and Scholarship Conference. Presentation on the global photographic community. – Birmingham, June 2017
Visiting Lecture – Focus Central, Nottingham 2017
Active City Conference. Presentation on Inclusiveness, mass-participation and collaboration in public-art – Leicester, May 2016
The Self(ie) and the other: Portraiture – Budapest, Hungary - 2015
Aleppo International Photography Festival, Syria -2015
MOP6. Cape-Town, South Africa- October 2014
Encontros da Imagem 2014, International festival of Photography, Portugal - Sept 2014
Photometria Photo Festival. Ioannina, Greece – Sept 2014
Les Boutographies –Rencontres Photographiques De Montpellier, France, May 2014
Fotofilmic Awards - F/F’14 ShortList -April 2014
New York Photo Festival- March 2014
Published Artist/Project Profile - Foto8 - Jan 2014

Connect Street Exhibition, Leicester November 2013- May 2014
International Festival Photography Sau Paolo, Brazil Sept 2013
August Sander Learning Project Exhibition LPPG 2013
Co-Coordinator August Sander Learning Project in association with Artist Rooms and Art Fund. 2013
Cultural Olympiad National Exhibition Tour July 2012
LCB Depot Gallery, Leicester May 2012
BBC Big Screen, Leicester March 2009
BBC Big Screen, Leicester March 2008
Lakeside Gallery, Nottingham August 2007
Ukraine National Museum Of Modern Art, Kiev – May 2007


in the UK for Quality Education

Sustainable Development Goal 4, Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2023

for Career Prospects

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Facilities

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021

of Research is “Internationally Excellent” or “World Leading”

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Four Star Rating

QS Star Ratings 2021