Influenced by Walker Evans, William Eggleston and the Bechers, Graham established his reputation with colour photographs that portrayed contemporary Britain in an objective, documentary style. An early series House Portraits 1979-80 concentrated on English council housing. He followed this with a study of the service stations and cafes that line the Great North Road.
In 1986 he published Beyond Caring, depicting Social Security offices across Britain. The series examined the degradation that accompanied the high unemployment and harsh economic conditions of the Thatcher era. Graham has described the series as showing places where economic decisions and human lives meet head on. He then moved on to make Troubled Land 1987, a study of Northern Ireland, followed by work in Europe and Japan, and most recently photographs of near-painterly graffiti in public toilets.