The Most Important Photography Festivals, Fairs, and Events for 2018

Photography Events 2018

Often times, the life of a photographer can be a lonely one. No matter what facet of the medium an individual is involved in, it will almost certainly involve hours spent in front of a computer answering client emails, maintaining social media presence, and making tweaks in Photoshop or Lightroom. All in relative solitude. For this reason, a large scale photography festival, fair, or event can be one of the most important dates in a photographer’s calendar year.  Among other things, they provide hands-on education, access to new work, and perhaps most importantly, they serve as a conduit for foraging new relationships with likeminded individuals.

2018 may still be in its infancy, but that doesn’t mean that it’s too early to start looking forward to the year ahead. Here, we’ve listed everything you need to know concerning ten of this year’s most eagerly anticipated photography events.

Photography Global Event Calendar (2018)

1. Photo London 2018, London UK, May 17-20th 2018
2. Brighton Photo Biennial, Brighton UK, October 2018
3. PDN PHOTOPLUS Expo + Conference, New York, Oct 24 – 27th 2018
4. Photoville, New York, USA, dates TBA
5. FotoBook Festival, Kassel, Germany, May 30-Jun 3 2018
6. Kyotographie, Kyoto, Japan, Apr 14 – May 13 2018
7. FotoFest 2018 Biennial, Houston, Texas, USA, Mar 10-Apr 22 2018
8. Palm Springs Photography Festival, Palm Springs, California, USA, May 6-11 2018
9. Unseen Photo Fair, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Sep 21-23 2018
10. Copenhagen Photography Festival, Copenhagen, Denmark, Jun 7-17 2018

1. Photo London 2018

London, England. May 17-20 2018

London Photography Festival 2018

Celebrating its third edition, the up-and-coming Photo London festival is set to be hosted at the Somerset House in the center of the city. The Neoclassical aesthetic of the grand venue itself may seem a bit over the top to the naive. However, it reflects just how much of a force the bourgeoning event has become among professional photographers.

London has always been a major hub for artists and image makers. In fact, medium innovator Henry Fox Talbot began experimenting with salt prints and calotypes not far from the city. So, it should come as no surprise that the minds behind London’s cultural committee felt it was high-time to recognize the value of photography in a public forum. The following statement does an excellent job at summing up the intentions behind Photo London:

“From the capital’s major museums, to its auction houses, galleries large and small, right into the burgeoning creative communities in the East End and South London, Photo London harnesses the city’s outstanding creative talent and brings together the world’s leading photographers, curators, exhibitors, dealers and the public to celebrate photography, the medium of our time.”

What to Expect

  • A series of prestigious awards are announced each year over the course of Photo London. With cash prizes, publishing opportunities, mentorships, and solo-exhibitions at stake, a lot is riding on the results of the awards ceremony. Categories featured in 2018’s event include:
    • Photo London Artproof Award
    • Photo London Master of Photography Award
    • Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards
    • Magnum Photos Graduate Photographer’s Award
    • Mack First Book Award
    • La Fabrica Book Dummy Award
  • A series of conversations, lectures, and events hosted by some of the most important contemporary photographers. In 2017, speakers included names like Juergen Teller, Taryn Simon, Bruce Davidson, and Martin Parr.
  • Exhibitions featuring contemporary emerging art as well as rare and vintage pieces. Strung together by a curatorial committee consisting of critics and museum directors, shows can be found at venues throughout the city.

More information: PhotoLondon.org

2. Brighton Photo Biennial

Brighton, England. October 2018

Brighton Photography Festival 2018

Curated by the Photoworks photography agency, the Brighton Photo Biennial will be celebrating its eighth edition in the fall of 2018. With the simple goal of connecting artists with audiences, this event is sure to be one that you won’t want to pass up. As a charitable organization, proceeds go directly towards bolstering the artistic careers of photographers in need around the world.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you may even have the opportunity to exhibit at the event itself. Though the festival is primarily curated by professionals, the organization is eager to showcase new work. Therefore, some exhibition elements have been generated by open call sin the past. Take a minute to check out current available opportunities at the Photoworks site if you’re looking to get your work out in the open.

What to Expect

  • The National Jerwood/Photoworks Awards, which are designed to support three emerging artists via research and development initiatives, production funds, and international mentors.
  • The release of Photowork’s Annual visual culture journal is one of the Biennial’s highlights. A publication meant to discuss shifts within the photographic world, the Annual prints interviews and essays that opens up the minds of ambitious image makers.
  • Film screenings and family activities take place across the festival grounds. 2016’s lineup included a “Build Your Own Camera Obscura” booth and a seminar on creating cyanotypes.

More information: bpb.org.uk

3. PDN PHOTOPLUS Expo + Conference

New York, New York, USA. Oct 24 – 27th 2018

PDN Photography Festival 2018PDN’s PhotoPlus Expo is one of North America’s biggest photo events of the year. Held at the Javits Convention Center, the large venue is filled to the brim with enthusiastic image makers from near and far. Last year, nearly about 20,000 photographers hailing from 70 different countries gathered to see the festivities

There’s good reason for the crowds. With a slew of sponsors attending, it’s a hub for the latest developments in technology and camera equipment. Furthermore, it’s an excellent place to meet likeminded individuals and get a taste of current photo trends. Whether you’re an amateur or a seasoned pro, there’s always something to be learned from this extravagant event.

What to Expect

  • Hundreds of vendors attend each year, from big established names to small startups. Simply meandering around the main floor will allow you to see, feel, and experience the latest and greatest the industry has to offer. The exhibitors alone are enough to capture the attention of tech fanatics.
  • Workshops on photography, videography, and digital media are run by esteemed professionals. For hardcore photographers, there are 5 hour intensive programs meant to cover the ins and outs of a subject in excruciating detail. However, there are Photo Walks available for those seeking something a bit less stringent – on the streets of New York, experts will happily go over technical concepts.
  • Keynote speakers discussing relevant topics in modern photography are a mainstay of PhotoPlus. Though the subjects revolve each year, there’s always sure to be a handful of thought-provoking conversations and forums happening.

More information: PhotoPlusExpo.com

4. Photoville

Brooklyn, New York, USA, dates TBA

Photoville Photography Festival 2018
As one might expect, the Brooklyn-based Photoville festival is both inspiring and hip. Over the course of several days, the Brooklyn Bridge Plaza is completely transformed into “an immersive photography village”. Built and designed by United Photo Industries for interactivity and inclusion, it’s quickly become one of the most attended cultural events nationwide. In recent years, the number of visitors has surpassed 80,000 people.

Unlike most photo festivals, Photoville primarily takes place outdoors. One of the main draws is Photoville year after year is its utilization of shipping containers as exhibition spaces. Both solo and group shows are curated in hopes of showing off as many sides to the medium as possible. The pop-up nature of the event also effectively draws in food and beverage vendors, further drawing in a more diverse audience

What to Expect

  • Photoville happily invites four-legged friends in addition to humans. Dogs of all shapes and sizes are welcome to roam the grounds of the event.
  • A beer garden hosted by Brooklyn Brewing serves as a popular watering hole for Photoville attendees. In the evenings, special events and film screenings open to the public take place.
  • Over the course of the event, there are engaging opportunities for discussion and education. Alongside free to attend hands-on workshops, Photoville also hosts  “Education Day”, an initiative designed to get kids inspired about visual storytelling.

More information: Photoville.com

5. FotoBook Festival

Kassel, Germany, May 30-Jun 3 2018

Kassel Photography Festival 2018For fans of the photo book, Kassel’s annual Foto Book Festival is the place to be. 2018 will mark the festival’s 10th year running, so attendees can look forward to some very special events. Each night of the event, a series of special events will be hosted at the festival’s main venue, DOCK4.

If you can’t make it to Germany, don’t despair. The Foto Book Festival will also host events internationally prior to the big event. Look out for them at the Istanbul Photobook Fest (Apr 28-30), the Moscow Photobook Fest (May 12-21), and Fotofestiwal Lodz (Jun 1-3)

What to Expect

  • Exhibitions are dedicated specifically to the art of the photo book. As a burgeoning art form, photography in the form of book is often left out of the equation when curating art exhibitions. However, the Foto Book Festival provides a venue to observe the works of dedicated book artists.
  • The festival hosts awards for photo books and book dummies from around the world. An excellent opportunity for those looking to get their work out in the open, the Festival serves as a way to bring undiscovered work straight to the laps of hungry publishers.

More information: FotoBookFestival.org

6. Kyotographie

Kyoto, Japan, Apr 14 – May 13 2018

Kyoto Photography Festival 2018 For photographers based in Asia, the Kyotographie international photography festival is one of the most anticipated events of the year. Its primary purpose? To engage artists looking to engage with other and become more in touch with their own personal work.

Eager to connect with people from around the world, the exhibitions hosted over the duration of the festival feature photographic works image makers around the world. For those separated from the event by an ocean or two, Kyotographie has gone through the trouble of setting up satellite events so that photographers may join in virtually.

What to Expect

  • Join up with others on a weekend guided tours to select exhibition venues. With the help of a guide, the gallery-going experience becomes infinitely more interactive – just be sure to book a tour in your respective language before heading out!
  • A series of master classes meant to give average photographers access to the wisdom of established artists. 2017’s classes included On Self-Representation with Zanele Moholi and Grasping the body and the movement with Isabel Muñoz.
  • Photographic exhibitions take place across Kyoto. While the full list of exhibitors is not set to be released until February, the docket has already listed a number of solo exhibitions featuring artist in and outside of Japan.

More information: Kyotographie.jp

7. FotoFest 2018 Biennial

Houston, Texas, USA, Mar 10-Apr 22 2018

Fotofest Photography Festival 2018
FotoFest isn’t your average photography festival. It’s actually more of a collaboration between over 100 museums, galleries, and art centers within the greater Houston area. Over the course of six weeks, these venues host the works of over 450 artists hailing from just over 150 different countries.

Held just once every two years, FotoFest fans young and old anxiously await the hosted events and range of themes covered in conversation and in the artwork itself. Often times, the organizers strive to cover topics and individuals that are often overlooked within the art world. For instance, one of 2018’s keynote exhibitions will be featuring 48 contemporary artists out of India.

What to Expect

  • FotoFest displays a large array of work, spread between over 100 venues in the greater Houston area. Thanks to the welcoming embrace of local art organizations, it truly feels like an all-encompassing photographic experience
  • Enriching portfolio reviews are performed by publishers, editors, curators, agencies, and more. This includes an Open Portfolio night attended by hundreds of people.
  • A fine print auction features images for sale from around the world. As FotoFest’s primary fundraiser, the auction is a win-win situation. Participants have the opportunity to walk away with art of their own, while the funds funnel back into everything that makes the festival great.

More information: Fotofest.org

8. Palm Springs Photography Festival

Palm Springs, California, USA, May 6-11 2018

Palm Springs Photography Festival 2018Other photo festivals focus on elaborate exhibition, showcasing cutting edge gadgets, or connection with community at large. None of these objectives drive the next event on our list.

Designed with professionals and serious amateur photographers, the Palm Springs Photo Festival is primarily a networking opportunity meant to push those serious about their craft. Celebrating its 13th year running, Palm Springs mantra has always been “Inspiration, Education & Technology”.

With a vast array of scheduled events prepared for the docket each year, dedicated photographers from all corners travel to Palm Springs each year. Facilitated by important influencers in both commercial and fine art circuits, it’s hard not to see the value in making the trek down to southern California.

What to Expect

  • A variety of symposiums and seminars are open to attendees. Some sections focus on going over difficult to work through technical challenges, such as proper color management. Others focus on career-building skills such as grant writing.
  • Social events connect photographers with one another. Ranging from an open portfolio gathering to casual buffet dinners, Palm Springs offers several opportunities for professionals to mingle with one another.
  • An in-depth portfolio review is the biggest draw of all. The renowned figures rounded up each year at Palm Springs is one of the major draws for most. With everyone from advertising agents to independent curators attending, a conversation with any of the individuals could prove to be incredibly helpful.

More information: PalmSpringsPhotoFestival.com

9. Unseen Photo Fair

Amsterdam, Netherlands, Sep 21-23 2018

Unseen Photography Festival 2018As a newly established channel for up-and-coming artists, Unseen hosts photographic events year round. The Unseen Festival is a sort of culmination of everything the organization stands for, inviting guests from all over the world.

As the name implies, the main priority of the Festival is to give unseen photographers and works a visible platform. As such, it’s one of the most innovative and progressive photo events out there. Through the eyes of oft overlooked image makers, the festival seeks to showcase emerging directions in the medium.

What to Expect

  • The fair itself enjoys representation from 53 international galleries. Established professionals set up base in booths in hopes of connecting with new talent.
  • Each year, there’s a sprawling photo book market composed of several dozen independent publishers. Attendees are encouraged to mingle and discover exclusives works among the sea of beautiful art books
  • One of the highlights is “The Living Room”, a venue for discussion on topics in contemporary photography. In the past, this event has been co-produced by outside entities such as the Barbican and the Tucson Center for Photography

More information: UnseenAmsterdam.com

10. Copenhagen Photography Festival

Copenhagen, Denmark, Jun 7-17 2018

Copenhagen Photography Festival 2018
To the organizers behind the Copenhagen Photo Festival, the event is much more than just a photo festival – in their words, “the vision is to strengthen our ability to consider photography as a form of expression”.

And with just shy of 50,000 visitors in 2017, we’d they’ve done a pretty good job of bringing recognition to photography as an art form. Working with about 250 photographers and several galleries throughout Copenhagen and southern Sweden, the non-profit works hard to bring the beauty of photography to all.

What to Expect

  • Organized festivities take place at the Copenhagen “Photo City”. The opening ceremony in particular is quite a spectacle. Complete with food, drink, and music to spare, the event kicks off with speeches and discussion on contemporary photography.
  • Guided tours are frequently led by professional photographers. Last year, opportunities included a PixlArt bike through the festival as well as a walkthrough of exhibitions with Vietnamese-German photographer Kiên Hoàng Lêh.
  • Attendees have the pleasure of attending in-depth, multi-day workshops. Unlike other festivals on our list, the Copenhagen Photo Festival has the luxury of stretching out their workshops and seminars over several days. Topics include Street Photography Basics and Project Development.

More information: CopenhagenPhotoFestival.com


3 COMMENTS

  1. Updated:

    The announced Xposure International Photography Festival dates for 2018 for your listing.

    The main festival will run from 21-24 November 2018 inclusive and the outdoor exhibitions in Sharjah and Dubai will open to the public on 10 November 2018. Entrance to the exhibitions and main festival is free.

    Xposure is the leading photo festival in the middle east and the official imagery and educational platform that combines a range of photography events including; Exhibitions, Workshops, Seminars, Screenings, Competitions, Photo Walks, and hosts a dedicated photographic and video production trade show.

    Xposure 2018 will host more than 24 exhibitions from some of the worlds leading photographers.

    The festival also incorporates the regions largest dedicated photography and film-making trade show. The official website is https://xposure.ae

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