In 2020 photography events worked tirelessly to reinvent themselves amid the new normal in the age of COVID-19. Due to lockdown restrictions or current great uncertainty, some major photo festivals in Europe had to be postponed, but many still offer a variety of experience for their audience – online and offline.
Check out some of our favourites.
Where: Spain and online
When: June 25 – October 31
This festival of photography and visual arts encompasses almost all of Spain and will last until the 31 October. This year’s 23rd edition focuses on digital projects.
The outdoor exhibitions paying homage to the role that balconies and windows have played in our lives recently are being held in more than 50 cities in Spain, inviting citizens to use photography as a means of expression and communication in these difficult times.
The festival features renowned international and local artists as well as emerging talents. Japanese photography from the 1950s and 1960s; the Magnum photographers’ views of the human body; and a survey of the relationship between art and fashion – are just some of the collective shows offered this year. The individual exhibitions feature some big names in photography too.
The topic of the pandemic can hardly be forgotten this year – PHotoESPAÑA’s ‘Time at a Standstill’ exhibition compiles the work of 42 photographers who’ve been exploring the experience of confinement in Spain through different vantage points and narrative voices.
For their online experience, the festival website offers access to 107 online exhibition galleries. Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favourite.
Where: Perpignan, France and online
When: August 29 – September 13, additional dates: September 19, 20, 26, 27.
The festival has only slightly reduced the number of exhibitions in 2020 compared to previous years. Among this year’s highlights: ecological issues: pollution, deforestation, water shortages; protest movements, and documenting the pandemic. Overall 20 exhibitions will be available at 3 locations in the town.
Some festival events could not be maintained in their usual form. At the same time, organisers promised to make exhibitions, screenings, discussions, conferences and portfolio reviews available in virtual form on the festival’s website and on social media platforms.
Where: Athens, Greece and online
When: September 16 – November 15, 2020
Athens Photo Festival, which usually takes place in the Greek capital during the summer months, plans to kick off this year in mid-September and is scheduled to run until mid-November. The event offers exhibitions, talent development and engaging activities such as photo marathons, portfolio reviews, educational labs and a night screening. The team says it’s exploring ways to digitise parts of the program to offer artist talks, portfolio reviews and exhibition tours as an online experience.
Where: Getxo, Basque Country, Spain and online
When: 3–27 September 2020
The festival invites photographers and visual storytellers from all over the world to explore a festival -wide theme proposed each year. Most of the exhibitions are designed as open-air installations, highlighting the dialogue between images and the environment.
‘To the streets!’ – is the title of this year’s edition. “The street has taken on a fundamental role in contemporary global society. We want to explore the online and physical public space as an updated place of protest, as an area to be reclaimed by marginalised people, as a place of encounter and mutual recognition, and as a field for experimentation, play and celebration,” organisers say.
GETXOPHOTO prepares a specific program for online experience.
Where: La Gacilly, France
When: July 1 – October 31
This photography event is focused on nature and environmental issues since its foundation in 2004. The festival aims to blend images into the landscape of La Gacilly, a village in French Bretagne.
Large format photographs of both renowned photographers and amateurs are installed on its streets, making open-air exhibitions accessible anytime.
This year the festival focuses on Latin America, presenting an exceptional selection of work from the region. Biodiversity preservation and climate issues is another topic presented with some excellent photographic work.
When: canceled in 2020, maintaining awards and some limited events online and offline
This international photography festival, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, had to cancel its 51st edition in 2020 due to pandemic-related restrictions.
The festival’s team has made available online one of the most anticipated experiences of the festival, a projection of festival favourite artists and photographers – the Night of the Year.
Rencontres d’Arles holds two special events in Arles in the end of August with their partners. Around a hundred guests, writers, philosophers, scientists, and other experts in different areas were invited to participate in debates and screenings on the topic of the great history of man’s relationship with nature. These sold-out events are broadcast on social media.
When: 7–18 October 2020
Photo London, an annual photography event, usually held in Somerset House in London.
It generously shares a vast selection of photography-related content on its website. This year, due to uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 its fair will also take place online.
Where: Paris, France
When: 12-15 November
One of the world’s biggest fairs focused on photography is usually held in the middle of November. Special exhibitions featuring important public and private collections, award ceremonies and conversation series’ led by artists, curators, and key figures in the field are organised each year. The archive of the talks from the previous year can be found on the fair’s website.