Palmer's research and professional practice focuses on photography, contemporary art and digital media. His book publications include Photography and Collaboration: From Conceptual Art to Crowdsourcing (Bloomsbury 2017); Digital Light (Open Humanities Press 2015), edited with Sean Cubitt and Nathaniel Tkacz; The Culture of Photography in Public Space (Intellect 2015), edited with Anne Marsh and Melissa Miles; Twelve Australian Photo Artists (Piper Press, 2009), co-authored with Blair French; and Photogenic (Centre for Contemporary Photography, 2005).
His scholarly writings on photography and contemporary art have appeared in journals such as Photographies, Philosophy of Photography, Angelaki, Reading Room and the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art. Palmer has also published over sixty catalogue essays and fifty art reviews since 1997, in art magazines including Art and Australia, Photofile and Frieze. He is regularly invited to deliver public lectures both in Australia and overseas. Prior to joining Monash in 2005, Palmer worked as a curator at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, where he later served on the Board and as Chair of the exhibition committee.
Palmer has been the recipient of various awards and fellowships including a State Library of Victoria ‘Creative Fellowship’ (2005), Stone Summer Theory Institute Fellowship, Art Institute of Chicago (2009), Australian Academies of the Humanities and the British Academy, with David Bate (2010) and several Australia Council grants. He has been a Chief Investigator on multiple successful ARC projects, including the ARC Discovery Project ‘Genealogies of Digital Light’ (2008-11) with Sean Cubitt and Les Walkling; the ARC Linkage Project ‘Photography as a Crime’ (2009-2012) with Melissa Miles, Daniel Palmer, Mark Davison and the Centre for Contemporary Photography; and the ARC Discovery Project ‘Curating Photography in the Age of Photosharing' (2015-2017) with Martyn Jolly.