The best photography festivals open in August



Visa Pour l’Image (France) and PhEST (Italy) join Rencontres de la Photographie (France) and Cortona On The Move (Italy) among the list of festivals that are currently welcoming visitors this summer. Learn all about their exhibition programs and supporting events.

PhEST – See beyond the sea / Monopoli, Italy / August 6 – November 1

© David Vintiner and Gem Fletcher, from the series Les Futuristes. 2021 exhibitors

Organized in the small town of Monopoli in Puglia on the southeast coast of Italy, PhEST – See Beyond the Sea is dedicated to the exhibition of photography, cinema, music and artistic expressions of the Mediterranean. The festival was born in 2016 from the need to give voice to the thousands of identities that form the “sea in the land”, and from a growing desire to define new original images in the region. “The need is not to erase the distance that the Mediterranean creates between these identities, because this sea, in fact, creates and mixes them,” writes the festival’s curator. Arianna Rinaldo. “It is rather a matter of stitching up the divide between reality and its representation, beyond the theater of truth, beyond this scene of reality that the West has often set up. At a time when everything seems to deserve a new definition, we see the need to start again from here, the disturbing idea of ​​rewriting the present again and again. Contemporary photography is the ideal way to trigger this reconstruction ”

This year’s edition is scheduled to open on August 6 and end on November 1. In the exhibition programming, Paule De Grenet portrays people with albinism as a way to celebrate the beauty of distinct canons and to remove the stigma sometimes associated with diversity; Yufan Lu uses his camera to explore the mechanisms behind cosmetic surgery in China as an abstract therapy for self-humiliation; David vintiner and Gem Fletcher investigate the movement of transhumanism and ask ourselves if we have the foresight to create our personal evolution in the right way; the winner of the Pop-Up Open Call Dongwook lee examines states of inner collision between frightened egos and individuals who want to look away from the truth; and, thanks to the PhMuseum 2021 Photography Grant, Nancy Floyd presents a visual timeline of his life that reflects the experiences of his generation.

In support events, Angelique Dass lead a self-portrait workshop in which she will discuss her famous project Humanæ and reflect on contradictions and stereotypes linked to race; Roberto Boccaccino and Minimum Studio will run an interactive lab for young children focused on the use of photography as a tool for creativity; and a host of recognized industry experts will be on hand to conduct portfolio reviews. To find out more about this and the full festival schedule, visit

Visa for the image / Perpignan, France / August 28 – September 26

© Abir Abdullah, from the Climate Migrants in Bangladesh series. exhibitor 2021

For 30 days between the end of August and September, the picturesque Franco-Catalan town of Perpignan will once again be transformed into a stage of the the biggest photojournalism party of the year: Visa Pour l’Image. Various cultural spaces and a collection of ephemeral venues will host a series of events which together seek to draw attention to these “expired” stories that nevertheless continue to develop away from the media spotlight.

A selection of the notable works exhibited this year include Valerie Baeriswylthe representation of Haitian marriages which shows a desire to reveal another facet of the country far from the stereotypes of poverty and violence; Darcy padillathe playful depiction of the world’s largest laundromat in a working-class Chicago suburb that doubles as a safe haven between work and home; Abir AbdallahBangladesh’s survey of how Bangladesh is set to become a growing source of climate migrants amidst constant annual floods and tornadoes; Patricia de Melo Moreiraexploring the social and cultural aspects of Portugal generally associated with tourism and sometimes presented in outdated images that no longer reflect reality; and Jerome Genceon how new technologies can change working practices in Bali, a favorite destination for young Westerners who want to thrive while working remotely.

Visitors can also enjoy six evening screenings in the medieval open-air enclosure of Campo Santo. Kicking off on Monday August 30 at 9:30 p.m., the program begins with a chronological review of the year’s news, two months at a time. This is followed by reports on contemporary society, ongoing conflicts, stories that made the news and others that have been suppressed, as well as reports on the state of the world today. A collection of artist meetings, panel discussions and educational activities – all held online – complete the program of supporting events. For more information, visit



Noorderlicht Photo Festival / Groningen, Netherlands / August 7 – November 28

With the theme The doable mind, the Noorderlicht International Photo Festival 2021 explores the relationship between visual culture and reality: how is our thinking guided by a booming image culture, unprecedented technological possibilities and ultra-fast internet connections? Starting with photography, the 28th edition focuses on the entire spectrum of the image, both analog and digital: from traditional photography to digital and interactive images, including internet issues, learning automatic, virtual reality, street guerrilla actions, performances, sound installations and false depth. The list of exhibitors presents the tastes of Alphonse almendros, Elena Efeoglou, Ilona Szwarc, Joel Jimenez, Santiago martinelli, Rick pushinsky, Diego Moreno, and Sheung Yiu.


Meetings of Photography / Arles, France / July 4 – September 26

Celebrating their 51st anniversary this year, Les Rencontres de la Photographie is one of the largest photographic institutions in the world, playing the role of role of trendsetter and springboard for contemporary visual storytellers. This year’s exhibitions revolve around four main themes, namely Identities / Fluidities, Emergences, Atlas, and Proofreading. Together, they seek to illuminate a world in upheaval where the image often plays a key role as a witness or actor. Some of the highlights on display include Zora Murffhumanistic and topographical research into the complex web of violence affecting the black community in the town of North Omaha in Nebraska, United States; Andrzej Steinbachthe series of portraits addressing the representation and our common perception of the photographic model; and Anton Kusters conceptual work that opens up a space for reflection between the fractures of probative specificity and the abstract trace of the blue sky above.


Cortona in motion / Cortona, Italy / July 15 – October 3

Founded in 2011, Cortona On The Move has grown into one of the most dynamic and diverse events in the industry, continuously highlight new creative talents and new forms of visual communication. Placed under the artistic direction of Arianna Rinaldo, the festival intends to serve as a point of reference, not only for accomplished photographers and amateurs, but also for diverse audiences and attentive to contemporary cultural trends and the ongoing transformation of visual language. . This year’s focus takes shape around the theme We are humans, emphasizing stories that reconnect with ourselves in which the human being is the protagonist of his daily life. Among the highlights of the exhibition, Paul Pellegrin reflects in an abstract way on the effects of the new coronavirus and social distancing through blurry and black and white portraits of people; Stephanie Gengotti documents the life of six circus families as a metaphor for the priority and the need to rediscover the meaning of sharing and family; and Hannah reyes morales highlights the function of lullabies and the critical issues facing women and children through the multidisciplinary narration of nocturnal rituals.


Ragusa Photo Festival / Sicily, Italy / July 23 – August 29

Every summer since 2012, the Ragusa Foto Festival has taken over the historic Sicilian town of Ibla to offer a space for the dissemination of contemporary photography with a particular focus on young photographers from the Mediterranean. This year’s edition offers a look at if desire could resurrect as a meaningful opportunity at the end of the pandemic; that is, to understand how to exist, as a form of rediscovering human potential, of perseverance towards life. The exhibition program includes 14 personal exhibitions, among which Frijke Coumans explores the fascinating and contradictory relationship between irrationality and the need for control; Aurore Dal Mas examines the dehumanization and vulnerability of long distance relationships and the difficulty in finding intimacy and enthusiasm to please; and Giovanni Presutti captures how propaganda messages aimed at influencing ordinary people’s desires and propensity to consume have given way to communications about safety and restrictions.


PHOTOEspa̱a / Madrid, Spain / June 2 РSeptember 30

Since its creation in 1998, PHotoEspaña has a resolutely international vision, focused both on major concepts and defined artistic territories. Over the years it has grown into one of Europe’s top festivals, showcasing a wide range of photographs through a variety of institutions which together reflects on the important role of the image. Once again under the direction of Claude Bussac, the 2021 edition is one of the largest and most fascinating to date with an exhibition and supporting program celebrating the power and beauty of photography as a medium of narration. Some of the main attractions include Marilene Ribeiroexploring the lights and shadows of hydroelectric power from the perspective of residents of areas affected by major civil works; Liza Ambrossiothe investigation of the practice of free association with which she examines the personal unease she has felt following family conflicts; and Paola Bragadoethnographic portrait of women who accompany clients to dance in live music nightclubs in Mexico City.


Check out our festivals page for a full view of what’s to come on the photography calendar over the next few months.



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