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Revisiting The Strange Lure Of Other People's Photos With Bill Shapiro On Wednesday's Access Utah

Getty Images Press Room

Today on Access Utah, writer Bill Shapiro joins us to talk about what draws him to other people's photos. He says other people's photographs are "like time-travel and a shortcut to empathy." We talk about how photography can pull us outside of ourselves, connecting us to something greater.

Writing recently in the New York Times Magazine, in an article titled “The Strange Lure of Other People’s Photos,” Bill Shapiro says “We’re all drowning in our own pictures — last year, we humans took an estimated 1.3 trillion of them. I keep pictures that I never look at (an acrobatic squirrel), others I look at immediately after I take them but rarely if ever again (rooftop sunset), some I flip to often (children, girlfriend). And then there are the photos I reach for, with intention, a couple of times a year, when I find myself needing to look at life with different eyes. … These pictures, taken by average people with average cameras, are among the thousand or so that I’ve picked up at flea markets, junk shops, garage sales and, once in a while, on eBay.”

Bill Shapiro is the former editor-in-chief of LIFE magazine and the founding editor of, which won the National Magazine Award for digital photography in 2011. Born in Los Angeles in 1965, his books include What We Keep:150 People Share the One Object that Brings Them Joy, Magic, and Meaning,  Other People’s Love Letters:150 Letters You Were Never Meant to See, and the children’s book Gus & Me:The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar, which he co-wrote with Keith Richards (the legendary Rolling Stones guitarist) and Barnaby Harris (his oldest friend); Gus reached No. 2 on the New York Times bestseller list for children’s books. He curates fine-art photography exhibits and serves on the Art Advisory Board of SXSW. On Instagram, he’s @billshapiro.

Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.