27 September 2018

October's Best Photo Festivals

27 September 2018 - Written by Simon Hall

As Summer moves into Autumn, the photography calendar continues to be full of exciting festivals, with Zoom Photo Festival Saguenay (Canada), LagosPhoto Festival (Nigeria), Photobook Week Aarhus (Denmark), and Festival della Fotografia Etica (Italy) all opening their doors this October.

Zoom Photo Festival Saguenay / Saguenay, Canada / 17 October - 11 November

© Aaron Vincent Elkaim, from the exhibition The Road

Established back in 2010 by the International Photo Media Group from a concept by photographer Michel Tremblay, Zoom Photo Festival is the only event in Canada dedicated to the celebration of photojournalism. There are 14 official exhibitions on display this year, each proposing a new perspective on many of the most pressing issues facing contemporary society. Among the highlights, Valérie Léonard documents how the population in the Indian state of Jharkhand works and survives in a polluted environment ravaged by open-cast coal mines; Murat Yazar explores Turkey’s Kurdish regions, examining how the culture and everyday life has been marked by civil war; Aaron Vincent Elkaim looks to understand the fragile ecosystem of the Brazilian Amazon and the counterintuitive ways that the forest could work for everyone; and Benoît Almeras depicts the social and psychological distress of women and vulnerable people who have been, or are still, affected by displacement caused by the Syrian crisis.

Elsewhere, in the supporting program, independent global campaigning organisation, Greenpeace will showcase a collection of images that aim to inspire concerned people to act on the critical environmental and human matters of our time; Doctors Without Borders are set to present a group show designed to raise awareness about the experience of the world’s more than 68.5 million refugees; and the 2018 World Press Photo travelling exhibition brings into focus the biggest news stories from the past 12 months. To learn more, visit

LagosPhoto Festival / Lagos, Nigeria / 27 October - 15 November

© Cassandra Klos, from the series Mars on Earth

The first and only international arts festival of photography in Nigeria, LagosPhoto is a platform for the dissemination of contemporary photography that aims to unite local and established artists through images that encapsulate individual experiences and identities from across the African continent. Under the curatorship of Eva Barois De Caevel, Wunika Mukan, Charlotte Langhorst and Valentine Umansky, the festival this year is titled, Time Has Gone and looks to explore the configurations by which the past, the present and the future interact within the photographic medium.

“If time and photography are so obviously related, let’s explore this relationship again and further: materially, conceptually, and — this will be the most important thing to me — in a way of building a show together that fits with our ethics” writes De Caeval. “[We’re] working to put an end to what we don’t want and to keep alive what we wish will never disappear. Time has gone.” In the exhibition program, new projects will be showcased alongside more recognised work, with featured artists including Cassandra Klos, Charlotte Yonga, Chibuike Uzoma, Emo De Medeiros, Karl Ohiri, Kwena Chokoe, Mathilde Ter Heijne, Michele Pearson Clarke, and Sandra Brewster. A series of panel discussions, portfolio reviews hosted by industry professionals, artist talks, workshops, and installations dotted around the public spaces of Lagos round up the events. Further information can be found at

Photobook Week Aarhus / Aarhus, Denmark / 4 - 7 October

© Michael Danner, from the book Migration as Avantgarde (on display as part of the Kassel Dummy Award exhibition)

Since its inception in 2014, Photobook Week Aarhus has been engaged with the photobook in all its various forms. In this, the 5th edition, the festival will once again be showing works by renowned artists and promoting established and emerging talents, publishers, curators, printers, and booksellers. This year’s theme, The Virtual and the Physical, will focus on the digital developments in society and their significance for the photobook. “The festival discusses the digitalism of photography and highlights concepts such as virtual reality and hyperrealism by looking at their cultural counter-images” write the curators. “The discussion of the festival thus adds to the current debate in society about the future of the book after the digital turn.”

In the packed program of public events, ARoS Aarhus Art Museum presents a selection of its most rare and valuable books including titles by internationally acclaimed artists Ed Ruscha, Asger Jorn and Per Kirkeby; the exhibition, The Cave / Virtual Reality poses questions about human perception as well as about the photographic medium and its analogue and digital contexts; a selection of photobooks from New Zealand will be on display in a show curated by renowned New Zealand photographer Harvey Benge; and the shortlist from the Kassel Photobook Award 2018 will be on view at Aarhus School of Architecture. Daria Tuminas from UNSEEN, photobook specialist Thomas Wiegand, photo critic Gerry Badger, Evita Goze from Self Publish Riga, American photobook expert David Solo, and Gintaras Česonis and Viktorija Mašanauskaitė from Kaunas Photography Gallery are among the international guests in attendance. To find out more, visit

Festival della Fotografia Etica (Festival of Ethical Photography) / Lodi, Italy / 6 - 28 October

© Tommaso Protti, from the series Terra Vermelha

Moving into its ninth edition this year, Festival della Fotografia Etica (Festival of Ethical Photography) aims to bring audiences closer to ethically significant content through exhibitions that explore many of the pressing social issues of our time. In the line-up this year, Paula Bronstein looks at the discrimination and persecution of the Rohingya community; Tommaso Protti documents the construction of expanding cities and the growing levels of violence in the Brazilian Amazon; Camillo Pasquarelli uses diptychs to reveal the consequences of police brutality in the Kashmir region of India; and Nanna Heitmann records the lives and traditions of workers at the last remaining coal mine in Germany.

In the supporting shows, charity organisation, Care Harbor presents a photo reportage revealing every aspect of humanitarian workers’ commitment to the abandoned layers of society in Los Angeles; the AVSI Foundation showcases a series of images that offer a detailed and in-depth narrative of the problems facing The Democratic Republic of Congo; the Water Grabbing Observatory showcases a photographic essay dedicated to the great territorial and social changes in one of the poorest areas of Kenya: the Turkana county; and Filippo Venturi, Giles Clarke, Andrea Alai, Diana Bagnoli, Alessandro Cinque, and Arianne Clement are among the names taking part in an exhibition of single shots. Go to to learn more.



BredaPhoto / Breda, The Netherlands / 5 September - 21 October

The biannual BredaPhoto festival has emerged as one of the largest photography events in The Netherlands, with each edition exploring a relevant social theme. The exhibitions and supporting program this year respond to the title To Infinity and Beyond, focusing on the possibilities and impact of ongoing advancement in the fields of technology and science. The 50 plus exhibitions together reveal the opportunities, dangers, and dilemmas of our progress, and includes work by Alba Zari, Daesung Lee, David Fathi, Laura El-Tantawy, Mandy Barker, Mathieu Asselin, Osborne Macharia, and Sheng Wen Lo.


Brighton Photo Biennial / Brighton, United Kingdom / 28 September - 28 October

Brighton Photo Biennial is one of the leading curated photography festivals in the United Kingdom, presenting a program of exhibitions and events for professionals, enthusiasts, students, and families alike. The theme for this, the eight edition, is A New Europe. “The United Kingdom’s status in the European Union may be changing, however, geographically Britain will remain part of Europe” writes curator Shoair Mavlian. “At this transitional point, we will use photography to examine our current state of flux, reflecting on our relationship with Europe and the geographies of the United Kingdom.”


European Month of Photography Berlin / Berlin, Germany / 28 September - 31 October

The European Month of Photography Berlin – Germany’s largest photography festival – is a bi-annual event showcasing the entire spectrum of historical and contemporary photography. This year, more than 120 exhibitions will be on display, with formats ranging from outdoor shows and large museum installations to individual and group presentations in independent gallery spaces and cultural institutions. Wolfgang Tillmans, Gerhard Richter, Martin Parr, and Rineke Dijkstra are among many of the renowned names on view.


PhEST / Monopoli, Italy / 6 September - 4 November

Held in the city of Monopoli on the southeastern coast of Italy, PhEST – See Beyond the Sea, is dedicated to photography, cinema, music, and art contaminations from the Mediterranean. The festival was born out of the need to give a voice back to the thousand identities that form the “sea within the lands”, and the need to redefine a new, original imagery. The geographical focus responds to the natural panorama the eyes perceive from Monopoli and from the Apulia region: that is the Mediterranean, the Balkans, the Middle East, Africa and beyond.


Singapore International Photography Festival / Singapore / 6 September - 9 December

The Singapore International Photography Festival provides a platform for emerging Southeast Asian artists to exhibit their work alongside more established, international practitioners at galleries and museums across Singapore. The primary shows include Still (Laura Letinsky), Incognito: The Eye in Search (Rinko Kawauchi, Tomoko Sawada, Yuki Onodera), and Between Love and Death: Diary of Nobuyoshi Araki (Nobuyoshi Araki).


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Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

10 minutes