26 July 2018

August's Best Photo Festivals

26 July 2018 - Written by Simon Hall

Set to open on 25 August, Obscura Festival of Photography (Malaysia) joins Cortona On The Move (Italy), Les Rencontres de la Photographie (France), and PHotoEspaña (Spain) in the list of festivals you can visit this summer.

Obscura Festival / Penang, Malaysia / 25 - 31 August

© Ksenia Kuleshova, from the series Abkhazia (2018 exhibitor)

Since its inception in 2013, Obscura Festival of Photography has been committed to fostering a mature, thoughtful, and critical photographic community. Hosted in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of George Town, Malaysia, the festival is centred around storytelling through photography as a medium, providing a platform for photographers both local and worldwide to share their stories, messages and ideas with each other and the viewing public.

This year, the exhibition program explores ideas of Multiplicity, both as fact and fiction, and looks at its presence in our contemporary lives. In an era of post-truth politics and realities, the works question the process of image-making and the importance of understanding the human psyche. Among the highlights, David Carswell imagines a post-apocalyptic world where mankind’s interventions and struggles with nature are exposed; Ilias Georgiadis depicts his own personal battles to overcome interpersonal relationships, substance abuse and loneliness; Ksenia Kuleshova explores the everyday lives of people living in the partially recognised state of Abkhazia, a territory on the eastern coast of the Black Sea; Marta Bogdanska delves into the fabric of Lebanese spirit with a series of images that undermine the sensational narrative about the region that is ever present in the media; and PHM curator Rocco Venezia uses the Acheron river as a guide on a personal journey to create metaphorical and allegorical perspective on modern day Greece.

Elsewhere, in the supporting events, Peter Bialobrzeski, Ian Teh, Saiful Huq Omi, Miti Ruangkritya and Léonard Pongo are among the names to deliver workshops covering subjects ranging from developing a creative process to questioning the truth; Maggie Steber will host a masterclass that delves into the multiple ways to use portraiture in the making of important visual documents; and a collection of photobook artists will present talks about their photographic practice, thought processes, and challenges in editing and putting together their publications. For further information, visit



Cortona On The Move / Cortona, Italy / 12 July - 30 September

Set in the heart of Tuscany, Italy, Cortona On The Move is a stage for the celebration of contemporary photography, continually bringing new creative talents and novel forms of visual communication to the forefront. Under the artistic direction of Arianna Rinaldo, the festival provides a platform for the exchange of ideas between field experts and a space to discover work which represents the ongoing evolution of the photographic language. The festival’s 2018 focus is on female photographers, with exhibitors including Bieke Depoorter, Debi Cornwall, Jennifer Greenburg, Sanne De Wilde, and Poulomi Basu.


Les Rencontres de la Photographie / Arles, France / 2 July - 23 September

Since 1970, Les Rencontres de la Photographie has been a major influence in disseminating the best of world photography and playing the role of a springboard for contemporary creative talents. Through an eclectic combination of exhibitions and supporting events hosted by Arles’ unique heritage sites, the 2018 edition invites viewers on a metaphorical journey across space and time. “With the artist’s eye as our aid, and the recent past as our measuring stick, we can discover the near future, and shed some light on the big questions of society today” writes director, Sam Stourdzé. The list of exhibitors features Jonas Bendiksen, Matthieu Gafsou, Paul Graham, Cristina de Middel, and Yingguang Guo.


PHotoEspaña / Madrid, Spain / 6 June - 26 August

Since its inception in 1998, PHotoEspaña has developed into one of Europe’s finest festivals, showcasing a diverse range of photography across a variety of institutions that together tell stories with international narratives. Under the directorship of Claude Bussac, the 2018 edition is “pushing the boundaries of photography” and looking to question the very meaning of the photographic image. Musuk Nolte, Carlos Cánovas, Ricardo Cases, and Marc Pataut are among the exhibitors.


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Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

4 minutes

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