30 May 2019

June's Best Photo Festivals

30 May 2019 - Written by Simon Hall

Fotofestiwal (Poland), PHotoEspaña (Spain), and Belfast Photo Festival (Northern Ireland) are among the highlights on the photography calendar this June, one of the most vibrant moments of the year to attend festivals and connect with the leading professionals of our industry.

Fotofestiwal / Łódź, Poland / 13 – 30 June

© Henrik Spohler, from the series Hypothosis. 2019 exhibitor.

Established back in 2001 as one of the first photography events in Poland, Fotofestiwal has since evolved into one of the biggest festivals in central Europe, staying true to its mission of presenting visual stories in various ways while maintaining a focus on tackling seminal social issues and contributing to the wider debate on culture and society. This year’s festival encourages visitors to delve into the supernatural aspects of existence and reality as well as the speculative and hypothetical phenomena that defy explanation. “What does the supernatural stand for? How can we make sense of reality while departing from the scientifically validated knowledge and senses?” These are the core questions posed by the curators.

The main programming features eight solo exhibitions and one group show that together offer a nuanced interpretation ascribing to the supernatural and evoke the context of anthropology, psychology, and exact science. The highlights include Henrik Spohler’s multi-chapter investigation into the relationship between our existence and space, time and matter; Klaus Pichler’s exploration of new age esotericism, pseudo-science, conspiracy theories and the current era of post-truth; Nicola Lo Calzo’s examination of the legacy of colonial slavery in the Atlantic region in the 21st century; and Piotr Zbierski’s impressionist documentation of the connection traditional cultures have with nature and their distinct approach to mortality.

In other standout events, Hayley Austin, Anastasia Mityukova, Anaïs López, Gloria Oyarzabal, Simone Sapienza, and Federico Clavarino and Tami Izko will showcase work as part of the Grand Prix Fotofestiwal prize that looks to award photographers of exceptional personality; artists will be offered a unique chance to consult on their art projects with some of the most renowned experts in the industry in a series of two-day portfolio reviews; and selected photobook authors and publishers will host a program of talks that delve into their practice and the role photobooks play today. To learn more, visit

PHotoEspaña / Madrid, Spain / 5 June - 1 September

© Diana Markosian, from the series Over the Rainbow. 2019 exhibitor

Since its inception in 1998, PHotoEspaña has had a decidedly international vision, focusing both on grand concepts and defined artistic territories. Over the years it has emerged as one of Europe’s finest festivals, showcasing a diverse range of photography across a variety of institutions that together reflects upon the important role of the image.

Once again under the directorship of Claude Bussac, the upcoming 2019 edition is set to be one of the most wide-ranging and compelling yet with an exhibition and supporting program that celebrates the power and beauty of photography as a storytelling medium. Some of the major attractions include Diana Markosian’s portrayal of Cuban girls celebrating their transition into womanhood through ostentatious parties; Clément Verger’s research-based work that questions the apparent naturalness of the landscapes that surround us in the Anthropocene Epoch; Eduardo Nave’s exploration of the historic “D-day” sites that looks to restore their memory and draw our attention to the disgraces that can occur when forces of absurdity are unleashed; a Joel Meyerowitz retrospective covering his work in Spain in the late 1960s that reflects a country in transition marked by dictatorship; and Javier Vallhonrat’s investigative fieldwork at the Maladeta Glacier in the Pyrenees which is now in a delicate state of conservation. A display of photobooks shortlisted as part of PHotoEspaña’s Best Photography Books of the Year prize at the National Library of Spain; a Donna Ferrato exhibition following her journey of exploration and documentation of the violence against women; and shows dedicated to Leila Alaoui, William Klein, and Berenice Abbott round up the highlights.

Away from the exhibitions, there is also plenty for visitors to enjoy. The Discoveries PHE program includes portfolio viewings with the purpose of creating a space where photographers can receive feedback, discover current trends, and broaden their professional network; Rafael Trapiello will host a workshop analysing the process of creation and development of a photographic project where the landscape provides the framework; and Sebastián Bejarano, Matías Costa, Jonás Sala, and Rosell Meseguer will run a series of seminars covering subjects ranging from the mysteries of crowdfunding to the practical life of a visual narrator. More information about the complete list of events can be found at

Belfast Photo Festival / Belfast, Northern Ireland / 6 - 30 June

© Max Pinckers, from the series Margins of Excess. 2019 exhibitor

Capturing wide appeal through popular culture, accessible themes, and unexpected encounters with visual storytelling, Belfast Photo Festival aims to instil and inspire public enjoyment and participation by sharing the power of the photographic medium with new audiences in cool and unusual ways. This year, the festival has taken the current post-truth era as its inspiration, looking at how photography can be used to influence opinion; from carefully choreographed photo-shoots to image manipulation and misrepresentation. “Through a range of exhibitions, talks, workshops, screenings, reviews and tours, Belfast Photo Festival will explore how photography has a particular role in shaping our views” writes Festival Director, Michael Weir. “With a focus on sources of authority that many have come to question, from the press to politics and science we look at the ability of the camera to depict the truth and the untruthful, as well as how this ability has been embraced by photographic artists.

In the exhibition line-up, Max Pinckers delves into the stories of six characters based in North America all of whom momentarily received nationwide attention in the US press; artist duo Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger reproduce iconic images from international photographic history as three-dimensional models; Matthieu Gafsou explores transhumanism, a movement advocating the use of science and technology to enhance humans’ physical and mental abilities; Daniel Stier takes us inside the world of scientific research to meet the real people whose work holds the promise - and perhaps the threat - of transforming our lives; and Phillippe Chancel, Marc Lee, and 2019 Mobile Photography Prize judge Erik Kessels each bring their own visual perspective to the question: do governments lie?

This main program will be accompanied by a series of supporting events throughout the duration of the festival, the highlights of which include artist talks exploring truth and lies through photography, one-on-one portfolio reviews that aim to expand professional networks; and a collection of workshops designed to enhance participants’ technical photographic skills. There is also a supporting OFF program that will showcase work by the likes of Rachel Cox, Lucie Khatoutian, Elliott Verdier, Mary Chiaretaki, Giulio Di Sturco, 2018 Women Photographers Grant winner Maria Sturm, and 2019 Photography Grant New Generation Prize winner Liza Ambrossio. Find out more by visiting

Copenhagen Photo Festival / Copenhagen, Denmark / 6 - 16 June

© Charlotte Lakits, from the series Tell Me About Home. 2019 exhibitor

From 6 through 16 June, Copenhagen Photo Festival will take over the Danish capital for the tenth time with a wide-ranging program that celebrates contemporary photography and takes a deep dive into current social themes. Hosted across more than 50 cultural venues and pop-up gallery spaces throughout the city, the festival is founded upon three core pillars – Framing Identity, Framing Society, and Framing Vision – which together look to explore myriad subjects concerning existence, identity, politics, ideology, and the medium as an art form today. “What role does the photograph play as news provider, creator of identity and third eye in a time of fake news, and where the truth no longer can be seen in a picture?” ask the curators. The program of events looks to answer these questions.

Among the highlights in the exhibition line-up, Johan Tirén closely examines the thoughts, ideas and arguments made by some of the most prominent voices opposing immigration; Anna Domnick presents her detailed landscapes that induce the mind to reflect upon the wholeness of the universe and the sky above us; Linda Hofvander delves into the inherent qualities of photography and the possibilities of perceiving time and space on a flat surface; Espen Rasmussen showcases his geographically far-reaching visual exploration of xenophobia and the individual mechanisms and motives that make people turn hate into actions; and Charlotte Lakits offers an intimate look into the daily lives of both new and old inhabitants of Nuuk, the cultural, political, and economic centre of Greenland.

Elsewhere throughout the festival, a group of acclaimed publishers, curators, gallerists, and artists from all over the world will be hosting a series of portfolio reviews; author Kirstine Autzen will launch her new interview book that talks about contributing with tactical approaches to a culture saturated with images and controlled by large-scale political and commercial actors; and a number of international and national experts will host a panel discussion focusing on freedom of speech in a political climate increasingly characterised by disagreement. For further information, go to

Athens Photo Festival / Athens, Greece / 13 June - 28 July

© Elena Nassati, from the series On Changes. Part of the Young Greek Photographers exhibition

Taking place across June and July at the Benaki Museum, Athens Photo Festival is set once again to bring together emerging and established artists and photographers from around the world, aiming to reflect upon the diversity of the photographic medium and create opportunities for international exchange. The festival has today developed into a critical space where the impact of our ever-changing visual culture can be raised and discussed, placing a focus on fostering an understanding of contemporary culture and society through visual storytelling in all its forms. The exhibition program this year is comprised of both solo and group shows, presenting a wide variety of works, ranging from fine art and conceptual to documentary and photojournalism, photo-based installations, performance, interactive and multimedia works.

Away from the exhibitions, at the core of the festival lies an extensive and multi-layered collection of supporting events and initiatives, including learning programs, social practices, and community outreach. The highlights include one-on-one portfolio reviews offering a meeting space that promotes networking and exchange among international experts and photographers at all levels; a series of artist talks hosted by acclaimed photo practitioners whose work and thought stands out for their subject matter, process and critical insight; the return of the Talent Lab development program that provides 20 photographers with a unique learning experience that seeks to further develop their creative voice; a one-off screening featuring multiple perspectives on the use of both moving and still images; and a number of hands-on workshops designed to improve participants’ technical and aesthetic skills. To learn more, visit

Jakarta International Photo Festival / Jakarta, Indonesia / 25 June - 9 July

© Ilias Georgiadis, from the series Over|State. 2019 exhibitor

Education and Welfare. These are the two missions at the heart of Jakarta International Photo Festival, the newest festival on the circuit and the first in Indonesia. Facilitating a forum in which photographers can exchange ideas; forging connections that are vitally beneficial for Indonesia’s photography ecosystem; raising general public awareness about the important role photographers play in society; and providing a platform for photographers to promote their works to the intended audience – JIPFest is all this and more.

Under the co-curatorship of Firman Ichsan, Jenny Smets, and Ahmad Salman, the theme of this opening edition is Identity. “This festival aims to present documentary projects that demonstrate how identity manifests itself in various fields in different corners of the globe, from fashion to architecture, as a source of cultural expression and inspiration for creativity” they write. “JIPFest wants to see works that criticise real problems inherited from the concept of identity.” Following the result of an open call, there will be 36 photographers on display in the main exhibition, including the likes of Elisabetta Zavoli, Florencia Trincheri, Ilias Georgiadis, Irina Unruh, Iris Oppelaar, Jack Lewis, Muhammad Fadli, Swarat Ghosh, and Tim Franco.

For its fringe program, JIPFest presents 17 events organised by different communities across Indonesia with various formats, from discussions and workshops to portfolio reviews. There will also be a series of public lectures among which Teun van der Heijden will reflect on the popularity of the photobook, Shahidul Alam will discuss how photography can be used as an agent of change, and Zhuang Wubin will talk about his experiences of curating photography in Southeast Asia. Go to for more information.



Milan Photo Week / Milan, Italy / 3 - 9 June

Celebrating its third edition this year, Milan Photo Week provides a stage for a dialogue about the role of photography as a principal tool for investigation in the modern world. A selection of exhibition highlights among the main program include Alizia Lottero’s Gardens Memos; Pier Paolo Pitacco’s Contemporary Mosaic; and Gian Paolo Barbieri’s Polaroids and More. A series of workshops, symposiums, and projections round up the events.


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

Featuring over 20 exhibitions and a rich community program, Fotografia Europea has transformed 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. Michele Nastasi, Kenta Cobayashi, Pierfrancesco Celada, and Jaakko Kahilaniemi are among the exhibitors.


ImageSingulières / Sète, France / 29 May - 16 June

Celebrating its 11th anniversary this year, ImageSingulières is once more taking over the French port city of Sète with the aim of bringing together visual storytellers from around the world to create opportunities for the exchange of ideas and artistic expression. The program of shows and projections, created under the artistic direction of Gilles Favier, will be held across a mix of both traditional independent gallery venues and unconventional cultural spaces. The exhibition line-up features John Trotter, Nick Hannes, Mathias Depardon, Yan Min, and Jon Lowenstein.


Krakow Photomonth / Krakow, Poland / 24 May - 23 June

Krakow Photomonth has taken many forms in search of a defined identity over the years. Once packed into tiny burgeoning galleries and crowded bars, the festival has developed into one of the most engaging events on the photography calendar, with a focus on inspiring and stimulating the Krakow community. Taking as its core theme Like We Like It, visitors can enjoy visual stories told by both local and international artists exploring a variety of cultural and social issues including the current climate of political correctness, the effects of living on the frontlines of conflict, the strange afterlives of post-war Polish palaces, and the pressures exerted on individuals in modern society.


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

Since it was first established back in 2011, Circulation(s) festival has grown 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. The exhibition line-up features Emile Ducke, Sina Niemeyer, Yorgos Yatromanolakis, Margaret Mitchell, and former PHmuseum Grant awardee Ulla Deventer.


Ci.CLO Bienal Fotografia do Porto / Porto, Portugal / 16 May – 2 July

How can we contribute to transitioning towards a better adapted and more sustainable society? How can thought and artistic practices creatively expand discourse around these issues and translate thinking into action? These are the questions posed in the first Ci.CLO Bienal Fotografia, a new festival held in Porto, Portugal that seeks to challenge existing cultural, environmental, political and economic contradictions in our contemporary world. The theme of this inaugural edition is Adaptation and Transition, with the programming set to explore this dialogic relationship within the current context of the twenty-first-century.


PhotoIreland Festival / Dublin, Ireland / 1 May - 31 July

The first international event in Ireland dedicated to photography and image-based culture, PhotoIreland Festival has a core focus on raising awareness of both local and international photographers and underlining the work of individuals who have for years been promoting an engagement with the medium. Among the main exhibition program, Luis Alberto Rodriguez presents his new body of work focused on Irish heritage; Nadim Asfar showcases his expansive photographic series of the mountainous Lebanese countryside; and Lucie Khakhoutian, Clare Lyons, and Yvette Monahan feature in a group show that collectively examines the relationship between memory and identity.


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Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

18 minutes

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