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Photography fairs are amazing melting pots that bring together world famous photographers, curators and gallery owners but they also present a unique opportunity for new talent to be seen on a bigger stage. Photo fairs give members of the public a rare chance to discover the latest trends in the industry, attend workshops and even meet their favorite photographers!
If you’re a passionate photographer then there’s nothing better than spending a day or two exploring the huge variety of creative talent at a photo fair. All exhibitions have their merits and are worth attending but there are some photo fairs around that world that stand head and shoulders above the rest with reputations that help to attract the very best in the world of photography.
These leading photo fairs are scattered across the globe and even if you can’t make it to all them in your lifetime then getting to one or two will be moments you’ll never forget!
The World’s Greatest Photo Fairs.
The following are the 5 best photo fairs in the world.
Hosted in the stunning Grand Palais in Paris this art fair shows off the latest work of top artists while providing a platform for up and coming talent to gain more recognition for their work. As the world’s largest international fair that is specifically devoted to photography Paris Photo should be on everyone’s list of things to see!
The fair is held every year in November and brings together a diverse range of styles, genres and perspectives that is bound to leave you with masses of inspiration for your own projects. Paris Photo serves as a hub for more than 200 exhibitors to display their work, attracting buyers, enthusiasts and collectors from across the globe.
Paris Photo achieves a good balance of new talent, established pros and historical photos with multiple exhibitions around the Grand Palais. As well as photography, book dealers set up stalls where they sell rare photography books, collections and unique framed pictures. There are regular signature sessions where you can get the work of the photographer signed for posterity and a series of book launches that you can attend. There are also talks, lectures and plenty of opportunities to talk to the creators of the work on show that will give you an interesting insight into their process.
Paris Photo is set up so that not only dealers and industry insiders can enjoy the spectacle but members of the public can attend all the same events, with the exception of the opening night which is by invitation only.
AIPAD – The Photography Show.
The Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) is held every April at Pier 95 in New York City and is a wonderful chance for photography enthusiasts to see some of the most interesting work around. AIPAD seeks to promote the work of photographers by bringing together collectors and dealers from around the world to view the work on display.
It’s a great place to buy rare photos, meet collectors and dealers and even promote your own work. Many careers have been launched after attending such events and if you’re looking for a springboard to a higher profile future then this is an ideal opportunity to do so.
One of AIPAD’s central missions is to enhance communication within the photography community while promoting the work of existing and new talent. There’s a slight emphasis on fine art photography although everything from abstract to surreal work is also on display.
As a member of the public not only can you enjoy attending exhibitions but you can actually get expert appraisals and consultations about your own photography to help you develop your skills and technique further! This type of personalized, first hand advice could be invaluable for you to break into the competitive world of photography.
The fair strikes a great balance between looking forward and looking back, helping to develop current photographers while celebrating the work of past masters. This has made the annual AIPAD’s event on Pier 94 one of the most powerfully unifying forces in the industry and with plenty of friendly public events it’s the ideal way to learn more about the contemporary photography industry.
Helsinki Photo Festival.
This is one of Europe’s premier photography fairs that celebrates the most exciting, contemporary and experimental works of new and existing talent in the industry.
There is a major emphasis on promoting interaction between the photographers and the public and with a whole host of unique exhibitions there’s nothing quite like it on the calendar. Audience members and the public are actively encouraged to meet the artists which is good for both parties and helps to foster further community driven projects.
The Helsinki Photo Festival, which takes place each September, is a not for profit organization that brings contemporary photography to the streets and into the public arena to raise the profile of up and coming artists and bring new enthusiasts into the fold.
The fair includes a wide range of workshops that are open to all, seminars and artist talks. There are also events where you can have your own portfolio reviewed by industry experts!
One of the main missions of the photo fair is to bring new photographers to the attention of collections and curators on the international stage. Overall this is one of the most interactive, audience participation orientated photo fairs that still delivers world class exhibitions and educational talks and workshops.
Photo London is held each year in Somerset House, London, and brings together some of the top photographers, dealers and curators to share in the latest developments in the industry. The emphasis is more towards established photographers but there are competitions that run in parallel to the main event which gives new photographers the chance to be exhibited alongside the seasoned pros.
The fair hosts excellent exhibitions, installations and a great program of talks and public programming each year. The talks are all open to the public, as are the exhibits, and there are plenty of opportunities to interact with the artists and get advice from the curators about future trends in photography.
Photo London is based at Somerset House but events spill out across the city into the East End which is the home of the bohemian art scene of London. Small boutique galleries host exhibitions by local artists which gives international visitors a unique insight into the creative community of London.
The photo fair also presents a wide range of awards in all categories of photography which can be a very helpful leg up for new photographers.
The British capital is a hive of artistic activity but even on the busy annual calendar Photo London stands out as one of the high points of the year. Visitors from overseas can also take the chance to explore some of the nearby museums and galleries in the city.
Edinburgh International Festival.
As the world’s largest and longest annual arts fair, the Edinburgh International Festival is a unique feature on the world stage. The festival runs throughout the whole month of August and encompasses everything from music to plays, stage shows to exhibitions. Photography is one of the central aspects of this marathon festival that engulfs the entire city of Edinburgh, Scotland, although affiliated events even take place outside the city’s boundaries!
The Edinburgh International Festival is a rare opportunity for photographers to exhibit their work for such a long period of time at a fair in front of such a diverse audience. Literally hundreds of thousands of people visit the festival each year making it a great chance to network and build new connections in the photography industry.
Dozens of galleries put on special exhibits for the month covering every genre and theme imaginable and so for visitors it’s a real treat to be able to wander from event to event while stopping off in local bars and restaurants for refreshments along the way.
Each year the festival organizers also select an emerging photographer and give them a grant of up to $4000 to spend documenting the festival for a final exhibit at the end of the month. The photographs that they take can be in any genre as long as they give a new perspective on the action filled month! The award, known as the Festival Photographer Award, allows them to meet industry professionals and gallery owners from all over the world and their final exhibition is one of the highlights of the month.
Photo Fairs Are An Important Part of The Photography Industry’s Calendar That You Can’t Afford to Miss.
Photography fairs and festivals are a wonderful place to find inspiration, meet new people and connect with industry professionals. Everything from well established world famous photographers to new and emerging artists are on display creating an exciting melting pot for the public and curators alike to enjoy.
The best fairs also put on informative and interesting talks, artist presentations and workshops which you can get involved with but if you just want to meander around the displays and exhibitions you’ll still have a great time.
There’s something for everyone at the top photo fairs and so if you’re sitting down to write your bucket list make sure a couple of the globe’s premier celebrations of photography are on it!
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