The London Festival of Photography is an international photography festival dedicated to showcasing the best of contemporary and historic visual storytelling, encouraging dialogue about a wide variety of current social and political issues, and establishing a global platform for photographic practice and learning through a comprehensive programme of exhibitions and events.
Building upon the solid foundations it established during its first incarnation as the London Street Photography Festival (which took place in July 2011, receiving 32,300 visitors to 14 exhibitions and 30 events and workshops), the festival widened its remit in 2012 to encompass a broader range of photography, including conceptual photographic projects, and work of a documentary and photojournalistic nature, in addition to street photography. The festival’s roots in street photography have remained an important aspect of its identity; the festival will continue developing its photographers’ rights campaign, as well as exploring concepts and issues which relate to the public realm.
The festival has chosen King’s Cross as its hub and benefits from long-term partnerships with such establishments as the British Library, St Pancras International, the Guardian Gallery and King’s Cross Station, which provide first-rate platforms for delivering a world-class festival. King's Cross has a rich heritage as an industrial hub of London and new developments and regeneration are rapidly transforming it into a creative and cultural focal point for the city.
Exhibitions and events take place in some of London’s finest institutions including the Museum of London, British Museum, V&A, British Library, and Tate Modern.
Taking advantage of the capital’s international profile, the festival provides a platform for Londoners and visitors to come together and share, celebrate and question everything from personal practices to current affairs through the medium of photography. The festival is keen to engage with local, national, and international communities and open up channels for discussion between them.
One way this is achieved is through the festival’s annual International Street Photography Award which grants photographers from around the world the opportunity to have their work judged by prestigious industry members and seen by a large international audience. In addition, the Student Street Photography Award highlights the most exciting work coming out of UK educational institutions.
The festival also produces a yearly Prize based on the annual theme, which invites international entries in still-image and photo-film (multimedia) categories.
The festival is committed to preserving and celebrating photography as an accessible art form, important tool for communication and method to document and reflect on society and human behaviour. It aims to promote photography by establishing long-term relationships and partnerships within and beyond the photography industry; establishing sustainable projects and campaigns that engage with local and international communities; providing content that will inspire photography-lovers of all types and backgrounds and attract new audiences; and supporting the accessibility of the arts by providing a programme of free or low-cost exhibitions and events.
Today's paranoid climate brings constant disruption to photographers working in public and the festival is committed to campaigning for photographer's rights through it yearly campaign, Stand Your Ground.
Interaction with local communities is also of prime importance, alongside working with established and amateur photographers from across the UK and the world, reflecting London’s diversity and global influence. The festival will also actively uncover and showcase hidden or lost photographic archives, as seen in 2011 with exhibitions of Vivian Maier and Walter Joseph.
Run by a small not-for-profit organisation, the festival is able to operate independently of any corporate brand, ensuring a consistently high quality of artistic content. All exhibitions are curated or co-curated in-house by a dedicated team. Each year, the festival programme will explore a relevant and far-reaching theme through photographic exhibitions, workshops, screenings, talks and debates. Festival-produced events will continue year-round, and include workshops, competitions and mass participation community events.