28 June 2018

July's Best Photo Festivals

28 June 2018 - Written by Simon Hall

Two festivals on the photography calendar you should not miss - Cortona On The Move (Italy) and Les Rencontres de la Photographie (France) - open to the public this month, bringing together many of the leading names in the industry. Learn more about their exhibition programs and supporting events.

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

© Sanne De Wilde, from the series The Island of the Colorblind (2018 exhibitor)

Moving into its 8th edition this year, international photography festival Cortona On The Move has developed into one of the world’s most dynamic centres 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; those photojournalists, artists and documentary producers investigating our world to bring us intimate stories and worldly narratives that must be told. Among the exhibition highlights, PHM 2018 Grant Cortona On The Move Prize winnerBieke Depoorter presents As It May Be, a multimedia exploration of the everyday lives of Egyptian families following the 2011 revolution; Debi Cornwall offers a powerful glimpse into the U.S. Naval Station in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and its growing diaspora; Jennifer Greenburg showcases Revising History, a study on photography, the nature of the vernacular image, and its role in creating cultural allegories; PHM 2017 Women Photographers Grant third prize winner, Sanne De Wilde invites viewers into the dreamful world of Pingelap, a small atoll in the Pacific Ocean where most of the population suffers from colour blindness; and PHM 2018 Grant winner, Poulomi Basu investigates the causes and the consequences of normalised violence against women in Nepal.

In the supporting program, Sooanne Berner (Mack Books), Genevieve Fussell (The New Yorker), MaryAnne Golon (Washington Post), Fiona Rogers (Magnum), and Lucy Pike (WeTransfer) are guests as portfolio reviewers; six two-day workshops will be conducted by international photographers covering subjects ranging from responsible storytelling to lighting techniques for portraiture; and Canon Italia and cross-platform production company, Screen have co-curated a video exhibition featuring the works of Zackary Canepari, Erika Larsen, and Sheng-Wen Lo, among others. The inaugural days of the festival (12 – 15 July) will also see many of the industry’s top professionals active in Cortona hosting presentations, talks, and other public events. To learn more and purchase tickets, go to

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

© Jonas Bendiksen, from the series The Last Testament (2018 exhibitor)

Every summer since 1970, through an eclectic combination of events hosted by Arles’ unique heritage sites, 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. “You are invited to cross space and time with a breathtaking, celestial journey across the ages” writes director, Sam Stourdzé. “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.”

In the exhibition program this year, Jonas Bendiksen follows seven characters from around the world who, reassured by their followers, consider themselves the new messiah; Matthieu Gafsou investigates transhumanism, a movement advocating the use of science and technology to enhance humans’ physical and mental abilities; architect Simon Velez builds an immense bamboo temple to accommodate the photographs of Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk close to the Dalaï Lama; Espace Van Gogh showcases a retrospective of Robert Frank’s work, retracing the evolution of the artist’s expressive style and his uncompromising search for a subjective truth; and Yingguang Guo mixes documentary photography, video and installation to show us the social reality of arranged marriages in China.

Elsewhere throughout the festival, a series of workshops offer photographers of all levels a stage to develop a personal practice helped by great professionals known for their photographic works and teaching skills; Sarah Allen (Tate Gallery), Whitney Johnson (National Geographic), Attila Durak (FotoIstanbul Festival), Alexa Becker (Kehrer Verlag Editions), and Gemma Barnett (The Photographers’ Gallery) are among the industry experts hosting portfolio reviews; and the 10th edition of Cosmos Arles Books will provide a space for the sharing of ideas centred around photobooks, hosting 70 international publishers and specialised bookstores. The festival’s opening week (2 – 8 July) is also set once again to become a platform of exchange between industry professionals and the visiting public through a program featuring projections, panel discussions, exhibition tours, book signings, meetings, parties, and much more. For further information, visit



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.


Athens Photo Festival / Athens, Greece / 6 June - 29 July

Taking place across June and July at the Benaki Museum, Athens Photo Festival seeks to bring together both emerging and established visual artists and photographers from around the world, aiming to reflect upon the diversity of the photographic medium today, and create opportunities for the exchange of ideas, artistic expression, and international engagement. Presenting a wide variety of work, ranging from fine art and documentary to photo-based installations and multimedia, the exhibitions will be divided into thematic sections in order to create a dialogue between different ideas woven into a whole.


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Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

6 minutes

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