27 February 2019

March's Best Photo Festivals

27 February 2019 - Written by Simon Hall

Two exciting festivals on the photography calendar not to be missed – Format Festival (United Kingdom) and Chobi Mela (Bangladesh) – are open to the public this coming month. Learn all about their exhibition programs and supporting events.

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

© Seunggu Kim, from the series, Better Days. 2019 Format Festival Exhibitor

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.

Since its inception in 2004, each edition has adopted a core theme around which it is curated together. The theme this year is FOREVER//NOW. The festival’s director, Louise Fedotov-Clements – a PHmuseum 2019 Photography Grant juror – writes that the festival’s programming looks to “touch upon our obsession to record and share the continuous moment of ‘our’ lives.” Among the exhibition highlights, Tim Clark curates Mutable, Multiple, a group show investigating the slippage between truth and fiction so prevalent in this fake news era; Seunggu Kim delves into South Korea’s rapid social transformation over the last 40 years and the cultural consequences of stringent employment practices; Louis Quail takes an uncompromising look at the immediate struggle of life on the edge of society in an age of austerity, politics and shambolic government care; Eleonora Agostini explores the objects, activities, and surfaces that belong to the domestic space, portrayed as an absurd and uncanny theatre; and PHmuseum 2018 Women Photographers Grant winner Maria Sturm documents the everyday lives of the younger members of the Lumbee tribe and a reawakened pride in their shared identity as Native American Indians.

In the supporting events, the cornerstone of British photography publishing, Dewi Lewis, and his 25 year old catalogue of books will be on display at the FORMAT19 Photobook Market; senior curator at the V&A, Martin Barnes and artist, Edgar Martins are in attendance as keynote speakers as part of the FORMAT19 Conference; and many of the industry’s leading professionals will be hosting a series of portfolio reviews during the festival’s Opening Weekend. To learn more, visit

Chobi Mela / Dhaka, Bangladesh / 28 February - 9 March

© Vanessa Winship, from the series, She Dances on Jackson. 2019 Chobi Mela Exhibitor

Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography has, over the past two decades, developed into one of the highlights on the Asian photography calendar. Its programming looks to reflect upon the diversity of the medium as it exists today, providing a platform to create opportunities for the exchange of ideas, artistic expression, and international engagement. Curated by ASM Rezaur Rahman, Munem Wasif, Sarker Protick, and Tanzim Wahab under the directorship of Shahidul Alam, the theme of this – the tenth edition – is Place.

In the exhibition line-up this year, Chris de Bode documents Bangladeshi migrant workers fleeing the unrest in Libya, journeying from the border post at Ras Ajdir towards a refugee camp in Tunisia; Jan Banning looks at various corners of the world where the ghost of Communism still abounds and sometimes even dominates local mind-sets; Madiha Aijaz captures railways, towns and public libraries, studying spaces and communities that have become peripheral to civic life, but which by tenacity and chance continue to function; Susan Meiselas presents her seminal series, Nicaragua, which traces the evolution of the popular resistance that led to the insurrection in 1979; and Vanessa Winship showcases a lyrical and lilting interaction between landscape and portrait exploring the vastness of the United States and attempting to understand the link between a territory and its inhabitants.

Elsewhere across the festival, a series of workshops hosted by the likes of Valentina Abenavoli, Salvatore Vitale, Peter Bialobrzeski, Monica Allende, Christopher Morris, and Ron Haviv offer photographers of all levels the opportunity to develop their personal practice; renowned German publisher and bookmaker Gerhard Steidl will give an artist talk on photobooks; and a collection of films will be screened at various points throughout the festival, including The Salt of the Earth by Sebastião Salgado and Edward Burtynsky’s Manufactured Landscapes. To find out more, go to



Yangon Photo Festival / Yangon, Myanmar / 18 February - 10 March

Over the past 10 years, Yangon Photo Festival has developed into a major event on the south-east Asian cultural calendar, building its reputation on showcasing the best photo stories from around the world and providing a space where the new generation of local photographers can learn about the medium. Under the artistic direction of Christophe Loviny, the festival this year will feature such international guests as Francis Latreille, James Nachtwey, Kevin Frayer, Jean Loh, Hossein Farmani, Gwen Lee, and Adrian Evans.


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Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

5 minutes

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