April's Best Photo Festivals

It’s that time of year again when the photography festivals come thick and fast. The World Press Photo Festival (The Netherlands), Kyotographie (Japan), and Circulation(s) (France) all open their doors this coming month. Learn what exhibitions and supporting events they have in store.

World Press Photo Festival / Amsterdam, The Netherlands / 11 - 13 April

© Brent Stirton. Nominee for World Press Photo of the Year

Taking place from 11 through 13 April at Amsterdam’s Westergasfabriek, the World Press Photo is set once again to showcase different perspectives on the stories that matter through a varied program of events. The headlining Sem Presser Lecture will be presented by Aïda Muluneh, a former recipient of the European Union Prize in the Rencontres Africaines de la Photographie and the 2010 winner of the CRAF International Award of Photography in Spilimbergo, Italy.

Other events this year include a keynote from Tina Rosenberg (New York Times, Solutions Journalism Network) exploring what a solutions focus in visual journalism means; a presentation by Kathy Moran about her experiences of producing and editing over 350 stories for National Geographic Magazine; an informal get together for women in the photojournalism industry, providing a safe space to exchange thoughts and experiences and to draw paths towards a more diverse and inclusive photojournalism community; and a panel discussion addressing the question of how photojournalists act justly when covering violence and crisis featuring Patrick Brown (winner of the 2019 FotoEvidence Book Award with World Press Photo), Mikael Owunna (finalist), Matthew Smith (co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fortify Rights), and Mario Cruz (photographer and human rights activist).

A one or two-day pass, costing €40 and €65 respectively (discounts apply for students), will grant visitors access to talks, screenings, meetups, and the flagship World Press Photo Exhibition at De Nieuwe Kerk. All the prize winners in this year’s contest - including the recipient of the acclaimed World Press Photo of the Year award - will be announced publicly at the Awards Show on the evening of Thursday 11 April. More information about the full program can be found at worldpressphoto.org/festival.


Kyotographie / Kyoto, Japan / 13 April - 12 May

© Osamu James Nakagawa. 2019 exhibitor

Set against the backdrop of Kyoto in spring, Kyotographie is one of the truly international artistic events held in Japan, founded upon a vision of fostering an appreciation of photography as a medium and art form. In a varied and balanced program, valuable collections and works by renowned visual storytellers are exhibited in elegant, historical buildings as well as modern architectural spaces. The shows are spread across the city, staged creatively outside of the traditional white cube gallery format and in harmony with the natural and cultural settings in which they will be displayed.

The theme for this, the seventh edition, is Vibe. “A vibe is a distinctive emotional atmosphere, something sensed intuitively and deeply connected to our mood” write the festival’s co-founders Lucille Reyboz and Yusuke Nakanishi. “Vibes rush over you when you meet a person, confront a memory or event, visit a place, hear a piece of music, or remember a time. These invisible waves, both positive and negative alter our experience, they either separate us or connect us.” Weronika Gęsicka, Osamu James Nakagawa, Benjamin Millepied, Alejandro González, Paolo Pellegrin, and Kosuke Okahara are among the exhibitors exploring this conceptual idea.

The public program this year is packed with opportunities for learning, professional development, collaboration, and self-expression. In the standout events, Alfred Ehrhardt Foundation Director Christiane Stahl and photo critic Kotaro Iizawa host an artist talk exploring the influence of the Bauhaus on Japanese photography; a group of Magnum photographers discuss the cooperative’s LiveLab multiple residency program and the challenge of producing work in direct response to the location and community in which it is situated; and a host of leading professionals in the industry will be making guest appearances as portfolio reviewers. For further information, visit kyotographie.jp/en.


Circulation(s) European Young Photography Festival / Paris, France / 20 April - 30 June

© Ulla Deventer, from the series Butterflies are a Sign of a Good Thing. 2019 exhibitor

Since it was first established back in 2011, Circulation(s) festival has evolved into a laboratory of contemporary creativity dedicated to the dissemination of European photographic diversity. François Cheval and Audrey Hoareau from The Red Eye are in charge of the artistic direction this year, placing a focus on giving fresh impetus and new perspectives on the emerging generation of visual storytellers.

Among the exhibition program, Emile Ducke showcases a documentary series focused on the Saint Lukas, one of the five medical trains financed by the Russian government that travels to remote towns across the country; Sina Niemeyer brings together the mediums of photography, writing, and video in an autobiographical project that looks at sexual abuse experienced as a child; Yorgos Yatromanolakis captures the inner process of metamorphosis and explores the rites of passage that mark the transition from one phase of our lives to another; Margaret Mitchell presents a story of love and loss with social inequality at its heart, asking whether we really make choices throughout the course of our lives; and former PHmuseum Grant awardee Ulla Deventer displays her artistic research into the theme of prostitution with the aim of avoiding stereotypical prejudices.

In the supporting events, London-based school Work-Show-Grow will host an intensive two-day masterclass dedicated to pitching work and self-marketing; visitors will have the opportunity to design their own photo shoots in a pop-up studio; and the Adorna Corações Gallery offers a parallel program of talks and conferences held by the likes of Bruno Boudjelal and Michael Ackerman. To learn more, visit festival-circulations.com.


Fotografia Europea / Reggio Emilia, Italy / 12 April - 9 June

© Pierfrancesco Celada, from the series Japan, I Wish I Knew Your Name. 2019 exhibitor

Featuring over 20 exhibitions and a rich community program, Fotografia Europea returns this April to transform the charming northern Italian town of Reggio Emilia into a space dedicated to the celebration of contemporary photography. Bonding. Intimacy, Relationships, New Worlds is the theme this year, curated by the Scientific Committee of Fondazione Palazzo Magnani under the artistic direction of Walter Guadagnini. “The festival touches upon a wide variety of human relations: from sentimental relationships, which are more private in nature, to social ones, which naturally mostly take place in the public sphere” Guadagnini writes.

The official exhibitions will be held in various cultural venues across the city, both public and private, formal and informal. The highlights include Michele Nastasi’s portrayal of the transitory condition of six cities on the Arab Peninsula and their emergence as new global epicentres; Kenta Cobayashi’s research project grounded in a conception of photography as a tool that produces unstable and constantly changeable images; Pierfrancesco Celada’s exploration of the way that cities and megacities are developing at an unprecedented rate and how they influence the structure of families and communities; Jaakko Kahilaniemi’s documentary series that attempts to understand the forest area he inherited in Finland over two decades ago; and Lucie Khahoutian’s contemplation of her surroundings in which occident and orient coexist smoothly.

Elsewhere, in other attractions, Collezione Maramotti presents The Fountains of Za’atari, a multidimensional project from artist Margherita Moscardini based on research into refugee camps as urban spaces that are destined to last; and the Linea di Confine Collection showcases a selection of photographs and videos dedicated to the themes of existence and interpersonal bonds. Visitors will also be afforded the opportunity to discuss their work with industry leaders in portfolio review sessions to be hosted by the likes of Renata Ferri (Io Donna), George King (Unseen), Marina Paulenka (Organ Vida Festival), Arianna Rinaldo (Cortona On The Move), Fiona Rogers (Magnum), and Chiara Ruberti (Photolux). Go to fotografiaeuropea.it/en to find out more.


Capture Photography Festival / Vancouver, Canada / 3 - 30 April

© Amelie Atkins, from the exhibition Where the Hour Floats. 2019 exhibitor

Held annually in the Western Canadian city of Vancouver, Capture Photography Festival is a platform committed to the dissemination of challenging and thought-provoking photography from both local and international artists. Over 30 cultural venues including museums and independent galleries will be transformed into spaces promoting public dialogue around the medium of photography as an art form and a vessel for communication.

In the exhibition line-up this year, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Marissa Roth presents a poignant and powerful commissioned series of portraits of Holocaust survivors; Karen Zalamea explores the possibilities of deconstructing the mechanics of image-making and of capturing the natural landscape with elements of nature itself; Hua Jin documents the rural township of Dundee, recording its landscapes and residents with an emphasis on historical and cultural connections with Scottish migrations; Nicolas Sassoon illustrates the ascendance of data visualisation methods and their mediation of real places; and Amelie Atkins presents an ongoing series that knits together autobiography with cultural history, fantasy with reality, and the conceptual with the emotional.

Among the varied program of fringe events, Jayne Wilkinson will program a screening featuring various works that frame life on an increasingly unliveable planet through militarised and infrastructural forms of oceanic space; Alistair Henning will moderate a panel discussion delving into analogue photography in a digital era; and, as part of the speaker series, Deanna Bowen contemplates the role of the photograph in her practice, excavating histories of Black experience in Canada and the United States through the vehicle of her own family’s past. Visit capturephotofest.com to find out more.


Month of Photography Los Angeles / Los Angeles, United States / 1 - 30 April

© Diana Markosian, from the series 1915. 2019 exhibitor

Moving into its 11th edition this year, the acclaimed Month of Photography Los Angeles exists to celebrate photography through a variety of events and programs that inspire and invigorate the photography community. MOPLAs’ two-fold mission is to advance dynamic programming designed to engage and stimulate audiences, as well as to present a comprehensive resource of exhibitions and events.

The primary exhibitions this year feature Nick Brandt’s new series that addresses the escalating environmental and ecological destruction of the natural world at the hands of mankind; Diana Markosian’s documentary project focusing on the survivors of the Armenian genocide as they reconnect with their lost homeland: what they had, what they lost, and what they have found again; a retrospective of Kwame Brathwaite’s work demonstrating how the medium of photography is an essential cultural tool in the dissemination of new visual paradigms and political ideas; and a group show at the Getty Center bringing together works by seven artists - Eileen Cowin, Christina Fernandez, Samuel Fosso, Yasumasa Morimura, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Gillian Wearing, and Qiu Zhijie - all of whom have utilised re-enactment in their respective practices.

A collection of supporting events featuring panel discussions, workshops, and projections round up the program. Among them, National Geographic Photographer Gerd Ludwig will be running a six-day masterclass for professional and committed amateur photographers who want to take their photography to the next level, concentrating on the aesthetic, technical, and logistical aspects of photographing with a personal vision. More information can be found at monthofphotography.com.

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ALSO OPEN THIS MONTH:

Format Festival / Derby, United Kingdom / 15 March - 14 April

Format is the U.K.’s leading international contemporary festival of photography and related media. Held in the historic city of Derby, this biennial celebration of visual storytelling is the place to engage with an incredible range of new work together alongside some of the best-known practitioners in the world, with the curators placing a focus on developing opportunities for audiences to see, debate, develop, contribute and participate in the best of what photography is, and can be. Exhibitors this year include Seunggu Kim, Louis Quail, Eleonora Agostini, and Maria Sturm.

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Hyères Festival / Villa Noailles, France / 25 – 29 April

Launched back in 1986 as a festival promoting young fashion designers, the International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories, Hyères has developed into an important and relevant platform recognised for celebrating photography in the world of fashion. The Artistic Direction for Photography this year falls under Raphaëlle Stopin and the programming will include a solo show by Craig McDean, exhibitions by Eva O’Leary and Sarah Mei, and a 25-year retrospective of Self-Service magazine.

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