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Photo London: A City Finally in the Frame

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Urban landscape: Sohei Nishino’s diorama map shows a stunning view of London © Michael Hoppen Gallery

How could London ever aspire to be ranked alongside the world’s culture capitals without a world-class photography showcase? Paris has had Paris Photo for an eternity and New York earns its kudos with the respected annual AIPAD show. Despite its rich cultural mix of all-year long arts and culture, world-renowned galleries and influential patrons, London has never been regarded in the same light as its rival cities when it came to its photographic offerings. That is, until the birth of Photo London. It seems 2015 is when it all finally clicked into place.

Henri Cartier-Bresson widely regarded as one of the great photographers of the 20th century

Icons: Frenchman Henri Cartier-Bresson widely regarded as one of the great photographers of the 20th century

The inaugural photo festival takes place at the Somerset House where Sir John Herschel was said to have first coined the word photography in 1839. So a fitting venue to host the comprehensive schedule of exhibitions, talks, screenings and interviews over five days. Photo London features over 50 leading photographers and curators at 40 events over five days. On show will also be the work of some of the world’s legendary photographers from Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Bailey, Nobuyoshi Araki, Diane Arbus, Bill Brandt (lived on Campden Hill in Kensington) to Patrick Demarchelier, William Eggleston, Elliot Erwitt and Andre Kertesz among many other notable names.

Already being hailed as London’s truly first ‘Photo week’, the main auction houses; Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips are also holding masters and contemporary photography auctions to run alongside Photo London. Room and Book, a blossoming selling exhibition from independent art publishers takes place at the ICA, while the cavernous Turbine Hall at the Tate Gallery hosts Offprint, an exhibition of the best art and photobooks.


Street photography: Various London scenes captured by Ernst Haas and Marc Riboud ©Atlas Gallery

Apart from the photography on show from over 60 galleries, there is also a line-up of some of the world’s most sought-after photographers; Steve McCurry, Don McCullin, Sebastiao Salgado, Martin Parr, Rankin, Simon Norfolk, Rineke Djkstra, Nadav Kander, Susan Derges, Stephen Shore and many more. Respected gallerists Michael Hoppen and Michael Hyman will also be moderating debates and talks centered around key themes in photography. Curzon Cinema in Chelsea will also be screening Salgado’s Salt of the Earth to coincide with the presentation of the first Photo London Master of Photography award to the Brazilian social documentary photographer and an exhibition of his work.

One more thing, leave that selfie stick at home.

Photo London, 21 – 24 May 2015, Somerset House.

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