This essay reflects on the conditions of contemporary art photography as a global phenomenon with an expanding international network of production, dissemination and discourse. The text draws out common trends in the structure and presentation of recent photographic work and identifies shared themes emerging in local and global practices. Anglo-European academic discourse around photography developed in the 1970s-90s placed a strong emphasis on notions of “critique” which are being displaced by a more eclectic paradigm, partly in response to the loss of context produced by globalisation. Out of the seemingly chaotic sea of activities highlighted by international fairs and festivals, publications and online platforms, a number of significant currents emerge. In an art context, photography is challenged as a transparent bearer of documentary truths about the world and is instead being used in more personal, narrative or fictive modes to claim visibility and confront power in local contexts. In many cases, photographers are working performatively with their own bodies or collaborating with participants to produce works that reflect lived experience and comment on social issues affecting the planet such as climate change, migration and the expression of marginalised identities. Artist photographers are now called upon to be the curators of their own work, considering how projects will be presented materially in exhibitions across a range of international contexts, and using the photobook to deepen and disseminate their work. In some cases, materiality and process themselves become important aspects of the work’s content. Multi-lingual artists, writers and curators who work across more than one context are acting as cultural translators, contributing to this set of transnational activities and offering new ways to understand them.