London Festival of Photography 2012
The London Street Photography Festival is dead. Long lives the London Festival of Photography. Launched as a strict street photography festival in 2011, it has now widened its remit to encompass a broader range of photography from conceptual to documentary. “The London Street Photography Festival was a way for us to unify all of what we were doing under one umbrella,” says Brett Jefferson Stott, the founder of Shoot Experience, the street photography tour company that is at the origins of the London Festival of Photography. “Street Photography was a natural fit as many of our past projects had involved sending photographers and non-photographers out into the streets to make pictures and engage with their surroundings.”
He adds: “Street photography was a great launch pad for a photography festival as it provides the potential for artistic and social analysis like questioning how we inhabit the spaces we live in, how we frame and aestheticise and engage with our surroundings.” Moreover, street photography was back in fashion last year, ensuring the festival’s success – in July 2011, the festival received more than 32,000 visitors across 14 exhibitions and 30 events.
“We've always been about accessibility to the arts,” Jefferson Stott tells La Lettre. “And street photography is an art form that is democratic, one which the wider public can not only participate in but appreciate; it changes people's perspectives on the world around them, forces them to look at it in new ways - which is what art is all about! Street Photography naturally crosses into documentary, portraiture and even conceptual photography and so it has been an easy transition to widen the net of photographic practise. We felt we had built a solid foundation in 2011 and having relationships with The British Library, Tate Modern, St Pancras International and The Guardian help to provide a world-class stage for what we are trying to do.”
This year, the festival’s organisers secured the world premiere of The Gaddafi Archives exhibition – a series of never-before-seen images recovered from Libya’s secret service archives. It’s also putting together a group show dedicated the Great British Public, with photographs by Martin Parr, Peter Dench, Simon Roberts and Chris Steele-Perkins among many others. In total, 18 exhibitions will take over London for a month, with 30 satellite events, workshops, talks and screenings.
Of course, the organisers are already looking at the future. “We are interested in finding new ways to engage with international photography communities and audiences as well as revitalise our Stand Your Ground project, renewing focus on photographers' rights,” says Jefferson Stott. “We intend to expand partnerships with various art organisations and increase the scale of collaborative projects, working to find mutually beneficial ways to bolster the existent photographic industry in London. Each year we plan to attract bigger names in the photography world and therefore larger audiences. Right now our focus is on sustainability and if we can get the funding we would prefer to make all exhibitions free as well as open a dedicated photography gallery in King's Cross, allowing us to run projects beyond the six weeks around June.”
La Lettre wishes to thank Olivier Laurent for this presentation of the festival in London.