I’m a British photographer based in London. My focus is on documentary, portraiture and advertising photography, and my work has been published and exhibited worldwide. After graduating in Philosophy and French from Edinburgh University, for several years I worked mainly on humanitarian and conflict stories commissioned by magazines and NGOs, alongside personal projects. I was and, twenty years on, still am motivated by a faith in photography’s capacity to connect the viewer to the subject; to link worlds that often appear disconnected.

My particular areas of interest are immigration and children.  I’ve always written as well as photographed, starting when I was 17 with articles for the Independent and Evening Standard.  During 2009 I  had a weekly photograph and interview column, ‘Seen and Heard’, in the Guardian Weekend Magazine, and from 2011 to  2012 I had a column in Mainichi newspaper, Japan: each week they showed a photograph and story about a different child who I’d met through my work and travels.

In 2010, my first book, ‘A Child from Everywhere’, was published by Black Dog Publishing.  For this project, I photographed and interviewed children born in 185 different countries who had migrated to the UK. From 2014-15, I was a contributing editor to Newsweek Magazine.

My work has been shown at venues including the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, Royal Festival Hall, Somerset House, the Edinburgh G8 summit and World Children’s Art Museum, Japan; I has photographs in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery and Imperial War Museum, London.

My second book, ‘Someone Else’s Mother’, published by Schilt in 2020, tells the story of a Filipina woman called Juning who lived with my family in London for 22 years, while her own four children grew up on a small island in the Philippines, 7,000 miles away. The book brings into focus the lives of the children who Juning left, interweaving their stories with my own recollections of a childhood spent with their mother.

‘Irby has managed successfully to tread the line between voyeuristic intrusion and misplaced sentimentality… Her work contains great tension and emotional charge.’  The Times

Solo Exhibitions

Claiming a New Place on Earth, Protein Studios, London, UK, 2017
Freedom is not Easy, The Proud Archivist, London, UK, 2016
Like Riding a Bike, Westbank Gallery, London, UK, 2011
Words and Pictures – What we Learn from Children, Arts Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan, 2011
Words and Pictures – What we Learn from Children, World Children’s Art Museum, Okazaki, Japan, 2010
A Child from Everywhere, V&A Museum of Childhood, London, UK, 2010
A Child from Everywhere, Bubble – Islington, London, UK, 2010
Cloudesley Children at Home, Richard Cloudesley School, London, UK, 2009
Is Your Neighbour Killing You?, National Parliament, Kampala, Uganda, 2007
Walk with Joyce, The Spitz Gallery, London, UK, 2005
Walk with Joyce, G8 summit, Edinburgh, UK, 2005
Firefly, Scottish Arts Centre, Edinburgh, UK, 2001

Group Exhibitions

The Syngenta Photography Award, Somerset House, London, UK, 2013
Commonwealth Photographic Awards, touring exhibition, various countries, 2007
The World Can’t Wait, Southbank, London, UK, 2007
Document, SS Robin Gallery, London, UK, 2006
Photovoice Auction, Reuters, London, UK, 2005
MSF Darfur Fundraising Exhibition, 54 The Gallery, London, UK, 2004
Click: A Celebration of Sight, The Oxo Gallery, London, UK, 2004
Modern Day Slavery, UNHCR, Geneva, Switzerland, 2004
BBC Music Photography Award, Royal Festival Hall, London, UK, 2002

Solo book projects

Somone Else’s Mother, Schilt Publishing, 2020

A Child from Everywhere, Black Dog Publishing, 2008

Group book projects

UK at Home, Against All Odds Productions, 2008
Our World of Water, Frances Lincoln Press, 2008

Editorial clients

Corriere dela Serra, Italy
De Standaard, Belgium

Economist

Elle

Financial Times Magazine
Foto 8
Globe and Mail, Canada
Grazia
Guardian Weekend Magazine
Independent

It’s Nice That
Mainichi, Japan
Marie Claire
Newsweek
Nouvel Observateur, France
Observer Food Monthly
Observer Magazine

Positive News
Prospect Magazine
Psychologies Magazine

Refinery 29

Rolling Stone

Sunday Herald Magazine
Sunday Times Magazine
Telegraph Magazine

Time Out
Vogue

Commercial clients

Aberdeen Asset Management
Airbnb
British Telecom
Burberry
Canary Wharf
Canon
Channel 4
DFS
Dorling Kindersley
Eleven Film
Enjoy Education
Fostering Network
Fred Olsen
Greenberry Kids
Harley Street Clinic
Healthcare Locums

Iris Fashion
Hipp Organic Baby Milk
Investec
Jacobs
JP Morgan

Kensington Preparatory School

Lumi

Macmillan Publishing
Man Group
Mayer Brown
National Trust
Nights by Wilder
Ofsted
Olivier London

Open University
Packington Moor
Persil
Raiz Atelier
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Tesco
Their Nibs
Tigerlily Films
Urban Merino
Wild and Gorgeous
World Circuit Records

NGO clients

British Heart Foundation

British Red Cross
Cafod
Cancer Research UK
CARE International
Concern
Farm Africa
Oxfam
Plan International
Save the Children
Sight Savers International
Tearfund
The IRC
UNHCR
UNICEF
Water Aid
World Wildlife Fund
Y-Care