26 September 2019

October's Best Photo Festivals

26 September 2019 - Written by Simon Hall

As summer moves into autumn, the photography calendar continues to be full of exciting festivals, with LagosPhoto Festival (Nigeria), Imago Lisboa (Portugal), and Festival della Fotografia Etica (Italy) all opening their doors this coming month.

LagosPhoto Festival / Lagos, Nigeria / 25 October - 13 November

© Sanne de Wilde and Benedicte Kurzen. 2019 exhibitors

Launched back in 2010, LagosPhoto is a platform dedicated to the dissemination of contemporary photography that aims to unite emerging African artists with established industry professionals from around the world. The festival is designed to encapsulate individual experiences and identities across the African continent and is embodied in the exploration of historical and contemporary issues as well as the sharing of cultural practices.

The central theme this year is Passports, with photographers challenged to open a discussion on how modern society can create a flexible and more egalitarian world within the existing global restrictions. “This festival will delve into the constraints and prospects of the most defining official documents one can possess” write the curatorial team. “The possession of it confers certain values, ideas, liberties and restrictions. The absence of it strips one of the same and more, often with far reaching implications. We want to bring alive an alternative global environment in which artists of different nationalities are invited to explore options of creating a fluid and permeable world, where nationality, gender and historical imbalances are secondary to identity or community.” The main program is comprised of 13 major exhibitions looking to explore this subject featuring the likes of Dan Halter, David Baptiste, Gaelen Pinnock, Jenevieve Aken, Magda Biernat, Mous Lamrabat, Rahima Gambo, Rubén Martín de Lucas, Sanne De Wilde and Benedicte Kurzen. Interlaced among the shows are a series of technical workshops, artist presentations, portfolio reviews, panel discussions, and large-scale outdoor installations dotted around the city of Lagos. To learn more about what’s on, visit

Imago Lisboa / Lisbon, Portugal / 10 October - 17 November

© Laurence Rasti, from the series There are no Homosexuals in Iran. 2019 exhibitor

Throughout the last decade, Lisbon has emerged as a glowing example of economic and cultural growth, yet there has always been a gap in the creative arts industry. Imago Lisboa was created with the aim of filling this void and providing the Portuguese capital with a regular photographic event that enhances different storytelling practices and obtains international reference in the short term.

The five-week event will see over 15 photographers display their work across various venues throughout the city. A sample of the standout work going on display includes Demetris Koilalous’ visual essay looking at the transitory state of refugees and migrants who have entered Greece after crossing the Aegean Sea on their way to Europe; Laurence Rasti’s exploration into the difficulty encountered by homosexuals living in Iran; Malú Cabellos’ long-term investigation into the capital of the Peruvian Amazonia; Shen Chao-Liang’s portrayal of the evolving culture of truck theatres that tour across Taiwan; and 2019 Photography Grant awardee Liza Ambrossio’s deeply personal work that viewers to immerse themselves in her personal psychological make-up. To supplement this exhibition program, Imago Lisboa has also organised a series of projections, intensive workshops, and artist conferences. Details of the full program can be found at

Festival della Fotografia Etica (Festival of Ethical Photography) / Lodi, Italy / 5 - 27 October

© Emile Ducke, from the series Diagnosis. 2019 exhibitor

For three weeks across October, Festival della Fotografia Etica (Festival of Ethical Photography) will take over the city of Lodi in northern Italy, bringing visitors closer to ethically significant content that uses visual storytelling as a means of communication and knowledge. The works on display were all selected as part of the World.Report Award 2019, which places a focus on promoting projects that deal with the pressing social and cultural issues of our time. Among the highlights, Darcy Padilla documents the life of tribal members on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where communities are struggling with the scourge of alcohol abuse and methamphetamines; Senthil Kumaran Rajendran explores the growing conflict between humans and tigers within the wildlife sanctuaries of India; Emile Ducke captures the world aboard a medical train that travels to remote and underserved towns across central and eastern Russia; and Arne Piepke calls into question the contemporary attachment to annual marksmen’s festivals in Germany.

In the supporting shows, non-profit organisation Emergency showcase a series of photographs that describe how violence punctures daily life without warning in Kabul, Afghanistan; Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) presents images of their project in Soubré, Ivory Coast that seeks to prevent and manage unwanted pregnancies in schools; and Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Renée C. Byer illuminates the faces of people who live in extreme poverty around the world. Giulia Frigieri, Jo-Anne McArthur, Isabella Sommati, Massimo Podio, Marco Panzetti, Riccardo Melzi, Jo-Anne McArthur, Jacob Ehrbahn, Tullia Diena, and Michele Amoruso are among the names to feature in an exhibition of single images. Go to to learn more.

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

© Catalina Martin-Chico, from the series Colombia. Rebirth. 2019 exhibitor

Founded in 2010 by the non-profit organisation International Photo Media Group, Zoom Photo Festival is the sole event in Canada dedicated to the celebration of photojournalism. There are 14 major exhibitions on display this year, with each proposing a new perspective on many of today’s urgent global crises. Among them, Brent Stirton looks at how the millennia-old practice of falconry is experiencing an international resurgence as a result of efforts in the Arab states; Adrienne Surprenant captures the logistical challenges of managing the spread of Dengue fever across South America and Africa; Catalina Martin-Chico investigates the baby boom among former female FARC guerillas in Colombia as they transition back to everyday life; Laurence Butet-roch addresses contemporary social injustices faced by indigenous Canadian populations who are witnessing a steady reduction of their lands; and Chemi Dorje Lama looks at how growing desertification has become the most important environmental challenge in China.

Elsewhere, in the packed program of public events, the 2019 World Press Photo travelling exhibition brings into focus the biggest news stories from the past 12 months; a group of the invited photojournalists will be hosting a series of portfolio reviews; and an intensive multi-day workshop offers an opportunity for visual storytellers to share practical tips on how to produce compelling original reportage. To find out more, visit

Photobook Week Aarhus / Aarhus, Denmark / 3 - 6 October

© Photobook Week Aarhus. Cover of Robert Adams' The New West

Moving into its sixth edition this year, Photobook Week Aarhus looks to focus on the continual evolution and the important role the photobook medium is playing within the photography industry. Under the directorship of Moritz Neumüller, the 2019 edition has taken Flatness as its core theme, both in a metaphorical and in a literal sense. The major event in this framework will be New Topographics in Photobooks; a show featuring selected works from the main participants in the pioneering exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape, as well as more modern publications that highlight new ways of seeing today’s landscape and architecture photography.

Among the other standout events, Russian curator and protohistorian Irina Chmyreva will deliver a keynote speech on the opening night to officially open the festival; José Luís Neves curates an exhibition showcasing classic examples of books that question the codex paradigm including titles by artists Ed Ruscha, Thomas Sauvin, and Chen Zhe; and the 53 shortlisted works from the 2019 Kassel Photobook Award will be on view at Aarhus School of Architecture. An array of walking tours, book launches, artist presentations, and panel discussions round up the program. Further information can be found at



PhEST - See Beyond the Sea / Monopoli, Italy / 6 September - 3 November

Held in the small city of Monopoli in Puglia on the southeastern coast of Italy, PhEST - See Beyond the Sea is dedicated to the exposure of photography, cinema, music, and art reverberations from the Mediterranean. The festival was born in 2016 out of the need to give a voice back to the thousands of identities that form the “sea within the lands”, and a growing desire to define new, original imagery in the region. Norman Behrendt, Boglárka Éva Zellei, Roei Greenberg, and Alessandro Gandolfi are among the exhibitors.


Noorderlicht International Photography Festival / Groningen, The Netherlands / 6 October - 1 December

Under the curatorship of Hester Keijser, the 26th edition of Noorderlicht International Photography Festival is titled Taxed to the Max and seeks to examine the societal tensions created by global conglomerates with their vast accumulations of capital and their influence on national and worldwide politics. With over 30 invited guests, the festival presents a combination of photo series, mixed media, video and sound installations, performances, and spatial work that together explore the central theme. Alan Gignoux, Bérangère Fromont, Davide Monteleone, Ezio D’Agostino, Igor Tereshkov, Martin Toft, Thomas Kuijpers, and Ursula Biemann all feature.


To keep up with the latest festival news, subscribe to our newsletter by registering your email address in the space at the bottom of this page.

Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

10 minutes