08 October 2020

October's Best Photo Festivals

08 October 2020 - Written by Simon Hall

The festivals continue to come thick and fast as the end of 2020 draws closer. LagosPhoto Festival (Nigeria), The European Month of Photography Berlin (Germany), and Zoom Photo Festival Saguenay (Canada) are among those welcoming visitors this month. Learn what exhibitions and supporting events they have in store.

LagosPhoto Festival / Lagos, Nigeria / 24 October - 19 December

© Jide Odukoya, from the exhibition Turn It Up!

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 Rapid Response Restitution, a concept developed by Azu Nwagbogu and Dr. Clémentine Deliss in collaboration with guest curator and Nigerian cultural historian Dr. Oluwatoyin Sogbesan. “With Rapid Response Restitution, LagosPhoto20 takes an unusual and participatory approach to current discussions on the return of Africa’s cultural heritage back to the continent,” they write. “Central to this year’s edition is the Home Museum, an inclusive digital exhibition co-created by citizens in Nigeria and internationally who are invited to produce a fast shutter retrieval of their personal and family’s cultural heritage. Through high-speed photography, fleeting moments from the past are captured, helping to restore lost memories and demonstrate that the African continent is not trapped within an endless process of waiting for its heirlooms to be returned. On the contrary, Home Museum will help to stimulate awareness of the issues around the restitution of cultural heritage in Africa.”

In addition to this digital showcase, LagosPhoto20 will also stage physical shows on site featuring both historical and contemporary works that seek to address object photography both past and present. These exhibitions will be complemented by a supporting program that includes workshops with photographers (both professional and amateur), drama performances responding to the subject of restitution, educational collaborations with Nigeria’s museums, and a special projection of the PHmuseum 2020 Photography Grant shortlisted projects. To learn more about what’s on, visit

European Month of Photography Berlin / Berlin, Germany / 1 - 31 October

© Yuri Segalerba, from the series Waiting for Water

Every two years since 2004, the European Month of Photography Berlin has been taking over the German capital, showcasing a collection of exhibitions and supporting events that together explore historical and contemporary photography. The jury of EMOP this year has designed a festival program that features 130 photography shows hosted by 120 cultural institutions across Berlin and Potsdam. The formats range from large outdoor installations to major museum expositions and refined solo and group presentations in independent galleries.

The highlights include Sascha Weidner’s radically subjective photographs that give expression to deep longings and poetic dreams; Santeri Tuori’s time-based images acting as visual portals that encapsulate nature’s metamorphosis from one frame to another; Yuri Segalerba’s portrayal of two indigenous communities settled around Lake Poopo in Bolivia who are no longer able to make a living from fishing; Ioanna Sakellaraki’s look at the sole remaining community of female professional mourners on the Greek peninsula of Mani; Charlotte Menin’s exploration into the everyday life of young migrants in the Spanish enclave of Melilla; and Max Pinckers’ multiple-award-winning photographic series Margins of Excess that examines the difficulty in differentiating between reality and fiction in the modern media age;

Running in parallel to the exhibitions is a series of supporting events, among which Martin Liebscher will discuss his work that humorously investigates the coordinates of identity; Annett Stuth will host a presentation on her projects showing the artistic possibilities enabled by the virtual age; Adrian Paci will talk about his investigations into migration, the consequences of globalization, and the transformation of cultural identities. To see the full program, visit

Zoom Photo Festival Saguenay / Saguenay, Canada / 7 - 25 October

© Maude Plante-Husaruk, from the exhibition The Himalayan Gold Dream

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 15 major exhibitions on display this year, with each proposing a new perspective on many of today’s important social issues. Among them, Marie-France Coallier explores how the devastating effects of climate change are impacting the Island of Jean-Charles and its inhabitants in Louisiana, United States; Amber Bracken captures life around the indigenous Wet’suwet’en community in Canada who oppose the construction of a new gas pipeline on their territory; Rohit Saha travels to Manipur to document the launch of a new political party founded to fight against special forces laws in India; Sébastien Michaud portrays the workers and the work behind production cycles of highly sought-after black spruce trees in the boreal forests of Canada; and Maude Plante-Husaruk how an increased demand in China for caterpillar mushrooms is creating new economic opportunities for the Nepalese people.

Elsewhere, in other standout exhibitions, the 2020 World Press Photo travelling exhibition brings into focus the biggest news stories from the past 12 months and a large group exhibition featuring Marie-France Coallier, Édouard Plante-Fréchette, Jacques Nadeau, Rocket Lavoie, Martin Tremblay, and Michel Tremblay highlights the essential work photojournalists have carried out to inform the public of the stark realities of the coronavirus pandemic. To find out more, visit

Festival della Fotografia Etica / Lodi, Italy / 26 September - 25 October

© Nikita Teryoshin, from the exhibition Nothing Personal - The Back Office of War

Held on the city of Lodi in northern Italy, Festival della Fotografia Etica (Festival of Ethical Photography) brings visitors closer to ethically significant content that uses visual storytelling as a means of communication and knowledge. In the exhibition line-up this year, Aaron Vincent Elkaim looks at the impacts of hydroelectric development in Northern Manitoba and its role in the broader legacy of Canada’s evolving history of environmental colonialism; Andrew Testa captures life in the United Kingdom over the past five years where the people have become deeply divided in the wake of the Brexit referendum; and Antonio Faccilongo chronicles a love story set in one of the longest and most complicated contemporary conflicts, the Israeli-Palestinian war.

Elsewhere, the festival has once again launched a special section dedicated to giving space and support to the social commitment of photographers. The subject of these exhibitions is humanity with its public and private events, its small and big stories; the social phenomena, the customs, the civilizations, the great tragedies and the small daily joys, the changes and the immutability. Among the highlights, Nikita Teryoshin offers a behind the curtains glimpse of the global defence business; Mary Turner highlights the everyday challenges and beauty long forgotten places that were once the UK’s industrial heartlands; and Dario De Dominicis investigates how social and economic issues have changed and affected the artisanal fishermen community of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro. For further information about what’s on, go to

Photo London Digital / Online / 7 - 18 October

© Tania Franco Klein, from the series Our Life in the Shadows

Photo London was created in 2015 to give London an international photography event befitting the city’s status as a global cultural capital. Showcasing work from major museums to auction houses and independent galleries large and small, Photo London brings together the world’s leading photographers, curators, and editors to expose the power of visual storytelling.

The Fair this year is taking place solely online with 109 exhibitors from 21 countries displaying work in virtual exhibition booths. Michael Benson and Fariba Farshad, the Founders of Photo London, comment: “Photo London Digital builds on the outstanding achievements of the first five editions of the Fair that have created an unparalleled photography event in London. The galleries that join us for our inaugural digital edition make up one of our strongest groups to date. No matter where they come from our exhibitors present a stunning roster of brilliantly innovative artists and works – from the early experiments with the medium to the masters of the form and beyond them to contemporary work that pushes at the boundaries of photography.”

Photo London’s Discovery section – dedicated to the work of emerging galleries and artists – is once again the highlight of the Fair. Several exhibitors are presenting monographic shows, including Peter Fetterman Gallery (Los Angeles) who are presenting work by Wolf Suschitsky; Gallery 1957 (Accra) who are showcasing Prix Pictet laureate Joana Choumali; and ROSE Gallery (Los Angeles) who are dedicating their space solely to Tania Franco Klein. Other galleries are displaying thematic booths with 193 Gallery’s (Paris) exhibition Colors of Africa featuring works by Hassan Hajjaj, Thandiwe Muriu, and Derrick Boateng; The Photographers’ Gallery (London) spotlighting international photographers working in black and white; and Ibasho (Antwerp) shining a light on a group of Japanese masters. Away from the main section, the supporting fringe events feature online panel discussions, hands-on, professional photography workshops across different fields led by Nikon School, and live conversations with artists, curators, gallerists, and photography professionals on the Photo London Instagram channel. To learn more, visit



PhEST - See Beyond the Sea / Monopoli, Italy / 7 August - 1 November

Taking place 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 expressions from the Mediterranean. This year’s edition will run through 1 November with an exhibition line-up that includes Luca Locatelli's acclaimed project that portrays some of the most promising high-tech agro farming systems in the world; Ciril Jazbec's series focused on the incredible scale and real impact of the ingenious ice stupa movement in the Ladakh region of the Himalayas; Dillon Marsh's CGI models that depict accurately scaled ice models within typical human environments; and Jacob Balzani Lööv's work that looks at how a plane crash in the Tyrrhenian Sea 40 years ago forever altered the identity of a small island.


Verzasca FOTO Festival / Sonogno, Switzerland / 5 September - 5 November

Set in the picturesque village of Sonogno in the foothills of the Swiss Alps, Verzasca FOTO is an open-air festival that invites artists working with humanistic and conceptual approaches to interact with the local territory by inserting their work into outdoor settings and deep within the forests of the Verzasca Valley. On the occasion of the seventh edition of the festival, the curators wish to reiterate their goal of creating new methods of visual storytelling that can heighten the reach of the medium and promoting dialogues concerning the protection of woodland sites. Alexandra Baumgartner, Anton Polyakov, Diego Moreno, Elly Heise, Florence Goupil, Giorgio Negro, and Graziella Antonini are among the photographers in attendance.


Luminica Festival: Constellations / San José, Costa Rica / 5 – 14 October

The Lumínica Festival proposes a look at the celestial sphere of Latin American photography and aims to draw conceptual lines that allow viewers to navigate a complex universe of images that are in constant movement and transformation. Speaking about the theme, the curatorial team writes: “Our ancestors interpreted the night sky as a source of knowledge, weaving invisible threads where they recognised mythological figures. Pre-Hispanic cultures understood the reading of the stars as a tool to decipher the cycles of spiritual and earthly life. Through these articulations of the photographic cosmos, a cluster of identities that work with the image in its multiple dimensions are linked; emerging voices that allow us to recognise a panorama of contemporary visual culture in Latin America.” 21 Costa Rican artists and 14 international artists will be on display, including the likes of Andrea Martínez, Alberto Rodríguez, Juan Brenner, Prin Rodríguez, Luján Agusti, Gabriella Baez, and Fabiola Cedillo.


Photoville / New York City, United States / 17 September – 29 November

Returning for a ninth year under the directorship of United Photo Industries, Photoville exists to amplify the voices of visual storytellers and connect them to a worldwide diverse audience, with immersion and interactivity at the heart of what makes the event so successful and popular with visitors. Over 100 curatorial partners have come together to realise Photoville 2020 and the festival is set to present over 60 outdoor exhibitions across New York City and present a full slate of free online programming. A short sample of the extraordinary work on display includes Sofie Vasquez’s black and white documentary series about the independent wrestling scene and culture in the South Bronx; Daveed Baptiste’s examination of the social dynamics within Haitian-American identity; and Pablo Delano’s conceptual art installation that explores the fraught relationship between the United States and its modern-day colony Puerto Rico.


Athens Photo Festival / Athens, Greece / 16 September - 15 November

Held exclusively at the Benaki Museum, Athens Photo Festival seeks to reflect upon the diversity of the photographic medium and create opportunities for international exchange. The festival has 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.


BredaPhoto / Breda, The Netherlands / 9 September - 25 October

Throughout the last decade, BredaPhoto has emerged as one of the largest photography events in the Netherlands, dedicated to showcasing stories that inspire, move, confront, and ultimately raise new questions and demonstrate that photography is the artistic medium that stands at the heart of society. The central theme for the 2020 edition is The best of times, the worst of times, a title inspired by the opening paragraph of the book A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. “Change is a constant in history. But it is clear the pace of social, cultural, and political change is now very fast,” declare the curators in their editorial statement. “What is the world of tomorrow going to look like? No-one knows. This uncertainty can be frightening but it also offers opportunities: for more equality and a more consciousness approach to how we interact with our planet.” There are over 50 photographers displaying work that confronts these ideas, among which are Luis Cobelo, Andrew Esiebo, Tanya Habjouqa, Ed Kashi, Erik Kessels, Katrin Koenning, and Laurence Rasti.


Kyotographie / Kyoto, Japan / 19 September - 18 October

Set against the backdrop of stunning Kyoto, Kyotographie is one of the truly international artistic events held in Japan, founded upon a vision of fostering an appreciation of photography as a medium and art form. In a varied and balanced program, valuable collections and works by renowned visual storytellers are exhibited in historical venues as well as modern cultural spaces. The shows are spread across the city, staged creatively outside of the traditional white cube gallery format and in harmony with the natural and cultural settings in which they will be displayed. Elsa Leydier, Omar Victor Diop, Pierre-Elie de Pibrac, Atsushi Fukushima, Ryosuke Toyama, Wing Shya, Marie Liesse, and Kai Fusayoshi are the exhibitors this year.


La Gacilly Photo Festival / La Gacilly, France / 1 July - 31 October

Set in the heart of the rural environment of Brittany, France, La Gacilly Photo Festival has forged an international reputation on its commitment to exploring the great social and environmental challenges facing society today. Festival-goers this year can discover three outdoor free-to-access exhibition routes dedicated to the themes Climate and Photography, Viva Latina!, and Preserving Biodiversity. This program brings together 18 shows, the highlights of which include Luisa Dörr’s work portraying the Bolivian women who adopt the very masculine codes of wrestling to empower fellow women in their community and Carolina Arantes’ candid series offering a close-up view of the damage caused by huge fires and widespread deforestation in the Amazon.


Paraty em Foco / Paraty, Brazil / 21 – 25 October

Under the artistic direction of Giancarlo Mecarelli and Juan Esteves, Paraty em Foco has emerged as one of the most important hubs for photography in South America, presenting exhibitions and outdoor installations that work in harmony with the cultural heritage of its host town: colonial Paraty, Brazil. The artists on display this year look to open a dialogue around the active role of utopias and dystopias in contemporary society, with Betina Samaia, Ciro Girardi, Claudio Edinger, Cristianne Rodrigues, David Alan Harvey, and Helene Gulaker Hansen among the international guests.


Check out our festivals page to get a complete view of what's coming up on the photography calendar over the next few months.

Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

17 minutes

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