In this review we discuss the works in the area of quantum simulation and many-body physics with light, from the early proposals on equilibrium models to the more recent works in driven dissipative platforms. We start by describing the founding works on Jaynes-Cummings-Hubbard model and the corresponding photon-blockade induced Mott transitions and continue by discussing the proposals to simulate effective spin models and fractional quantum Hall states in coupled resonator arrays (CRAs). We also analyse the recent efforts to study out-of-equilibrium many-body effects using driven CRAs, including the predictions for photon fermionisation and crystallisation in driven rings of CRAs as well as other dynamical and transient phenomena. We try to summarise some of the relatively recent results predicting exotic phases such as super-solidity and Majorana like modes and then shift our attention to developments involving 1D nonlinear slow light setups. There the simulation of strongly correlated phases characterising Tonks-Girardeau gases, Luttinger liquids, and interacting relativistic fermionic models is described. We review the major theory results and also briefly outline recent developments in ongoing experimental efforts involving different platforms in circuit QED, photonic crystals and nanophotonic fibres interfaced with cold atoms.