We investigate backward photoproduction reactions both empirically and in the context of specific models. First, salient features of backward single-pion photoproduction data are examined and contrasted with corresponding properties of purely hadronic data. We show that although γ p and πN data are qualitatively similar below 5 GeV/ c, remarkable differences become apparent at higher energies. Second, four models are studied in detail to see whether they offer an explanation for the distinctive energy and momentum transfer dependence of photoproduction cross sections. In these models, we include contributions from Regge (moving) and fixed poles, as well as absorptive (moving) and fixed cuts. Satisfactory fits to data are obtained with the fixed-pole model, the strong absorption model and the fixed-cut model of Carlitz, Kislinger, Bardakçi and Halpern. However, none of these profoundly different models is adequately tested by available data. Suggestions for many useful new experiments emerge from our study; the most important are backward πN → N ϱ, backward γN → ∆π, γd → pn, and the inclusive processes γp → h + anything (h = π±, K ±, p and p.