In short

World Press Photo settles in Barcelona

Starting tomorrow over a month, World Press Photo will present its 2017 winners at the Centre de Cu...

First Luxembourg Street Photography Festival Launches

This Friday, the Luxembourg Street Phootgraphy Festival will launch its very-first edition in Roton...

Discussion on Humanist Photography at Voz’Gallery (Paris)

As part of Pierret Jamet’s ‘Y’a d’la joie‘ (There is joy) exhibition, ...

Since its nascent years photography has been considered ‘the people’s art’ due to its accessibility. Yet early on there was a line drawn in the sand between the professional and the enthusiast, a position that has been slow to evolve despite the advances in technology that have in part assisted in closing the gap. As far back as 1893 professional photographers were complaining about there being “an army of photographers running rampant around the globe” so it is easy to see why some still hang onto the labels of old given the plethora of images being generated today.

While there is undoubtedly a raft of skills required to be considered a professional photographer, the notion you can only be a ‘real photographer’ if you are employed in the field is surely redundant.

Australia’s largest photography festival – Head On – has certainly played a part in shifting the conversation around photography in this country from one of exclusivity to a more egalitarian position where the work itself is what is judged rather than who took it or what gear was used. And I believe this shift is a wonderful, positive step forward for photography because diversity helps to break down barriers, which feeds into the essence of photography as a mirror for society in all its forms.

A philosophy of inclusivity underpins the programming of Head On and is at the heart of Festival Director Moshe Rosenzveig’s approach. By opening the Festival to the broadest reach of photographers Rosenzveig has created a platform where both established and emerging photographers can exhibit – this year the Festival features 900 photographers and 200 events. And by programming a diverse range of works, he has also taken photography to the masses; last year Head On attracted an audience in excess of 600,000 people. Head On has also introduced art galleries to photography with many now including photographic exhibitions in their annual programs opening up the field for more photographers to exhibit and potentially sell their works.

Building an audience for photography and increasing the number of venues where one can exhibit and buy photographs – if that’s not evidence of the continued democratisation of the genre I don’t know what is, and it is something all who are involved in photography can benefit from.

“The idea of the Festival is that it is celebrating photography,” says Rosenzveig. “It is not a closed shop, not only for professionals, or photojournalists or commercial photographers or whatever. Whoever does photography of a high caliber can participate in this Festival, this is really what it is all about. It is a celebration of the creativity of photography and open to everyone to enjoy as spectators and participants.”

To clarify the concept of “open to everyone” Rosenzveig explains the Festival is programmed on three tiers – Featured and Associated exhibitions and the Awards. The Featured Exhibitions comprise works by emerging and established photographers. Rosenzveig curates part of this selection with the remainder chosen by the Festival’s committee of photographers, artists, curators and photography editors. The Associated Exhibitions are considered the fringe activities and while they fall under the Head On umbrella they are not endorsed by the Festival.

There are four Awards categories; the Head On Portrait Prize, which is now in its tenth year, and the Landscape, Mobile and Multimedia awards, the latter of which was introduced this year. Finalists from each of the award categories are afforded a group exhibition and this year there are substantial cash and gear prizes.

Now in its fifth year the annual Head On Photo Festival also draws internationally renowned photographers who are attracted by the quality of the Festival and its large audience. The international exhibiting photographers programmed by Rosenzveig this year include National Geographic photographer Chris Rainier, New York photojournalist Ben Lowy, Colombian photo-artist Erika Diettes, Mary Ellen Mark who is exhibiting in Australia for the first time, social documentary photographer Sara Lewkowicz, Johan Willner and Jing Zhao amongst others.

Discussing his selection process Rosenzveig says, “Each year I choose a different flavour and I either know these photographers’ work or have discovered it and think it will fit. Ben Lowy is a genius, in my opinion. He’s at the forefront of photography and does work that is new and unique…particularly in his use of the mobile phone. He’s a photojournalist that is not following the mold. With Chris Rainier I am interested in this work from a social issue perspective and his approach to visually recording, and working with, disappearing cultures is fantastic. Sara Lewkowitz is another I chose for the social issue value of her work on domestic violence, which is incredibly topical as we hear every day now about this issue. Overall I wanted to have work that was done with real people for the right reasons. I am not interested in photojournalism that is done to sell newspapers or to get the photographer a prize”.

The Featured exhibitions selected by the Festival’s committee are viewed anonymously, like the entries for the Awards. This process allows emerging photographers’ work to be considered along with those who are established creating a rare opportunity for new artists to show their work in a supportive environment. And to benefit from the publicity that Head On generates.

“Our interest is in showing work because it is good and that includes work by photographers who have never had a chance to exhibit. This is important for people to develop their skills and their perception of who they are. Sharing your experiences with an audience and getting feedback is an essential part of being an artist. The other side of this is that we give the audience an opportunity to see work they would not otherwise have a chance to see also.”  In all there are around 50 Featured Exhibitions in the 2014 program.

Although the Festival does not promote the Associated exhibitions, Rosenzveig says where possible Featured and Associated shows are situated within easy reach so Festival-goers are able to see a range of work in each precinct. He concedes that sometimes the Associated shows are “hit and miss, but the fact that someone doesn’t like your work doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means they don’t like it”.

This year Rosenzveig is also an exhibitor with one of his photographs included in the “Genesis Project” a group exhibition that is premised on showcasing “that Eureka moment for working photographers, the moment when they thought ‘I am going to be a photographer when I grow up’ or the photograph that changed their career,” he says. “This is going to be a really exciting show that gets into the headspace of the photographer”.

In closing Rosenzveig says, “Head On is about sharing knowledge and the passion for photography. That’s where we started and that’s the process we’ve been following ever since”.

FESTIVAL
Head On Photo Festival
12 May – 8 June 2014
Sydney
Australia

https://headon.com.au

See more

Festival
Sydney: Head On 2014
Jarrad Seng

A holiday to Iceland in 2013 provided an unexpected opportunity for 26-year-old Perth photographer Jarrad Seng to experiment with aerial landscape photography the outcome of which is a stunning collection of aerial photographs of Icelandic water flows that are reminiscent of abst...

Festival
Sydney : Head On 2014
James Horan

When Irish-born photographer James Horan was growing up in a housing commission estate in Limerick he was warned to keep away from the ‘travellers’ as the Irish gypsies are known. “Crazy, dangerous people, that you didn’t want to associate with,” he ...

Festival
Sydney : Head On 2014
Kerry Pryor

The African country of Ethiopia has an overwhelming number of orphans known as the ‘Lost Generation’. Here around five million children have lost one or both parents to famine, war, and disease, in particular AIDS. Many live on the streets scrounging for food and shel...

Festival
Sydney : Head On 2014
Leon Gregory

In the early 1970s Sydney photographer Leon Gregory was an aspiring actor who made ends meet by shooting portfolios for his fellow thespians. In his spare time he used his camera in classic street photography style taking photographs of random people that crossed his path.

Festival
Sydney : Head On 2014
Lisa Garland

Iconic photojournalist Don McCullin once said that it wasn’t necessary for photographers to travel far from home to find worthwhile documentary stories citing his series of the homeless in the UK as an example. Absence also can allow the discovery of the new when we return ...

Festival
Sydney : Head On 2014
The Mnemonics : Memoria

The Mnemonics is an Australian photography ensemble with members based in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Drawing their name from the Titan Goddess of Memory, Mnemosyne, this ensemble uses mobile photography to explore themes of memory and photography’s place in recollectio...

Festival
Sydney : Head On 2014
Nicola Dracoulis

Melbourne photographer Nicola Dracoulis’ exploration of nine young people living in Rio’s favelas is gripping. Shot in 2006 and 2013 in this series of portraits Dracoulis revisits the same people seven years apart capturing both the changes in individuals and their ha...

Festival
Sydney : Head On 2014
The Diary of Alison Stieven-Taylor

From the rafters of a church in the backstreets of inner Sydney hang swathes of silk. They gently sway in the breeze as it floats through the lead light doors that sit ajar inviting passersby to enter this house of worship. Lit by the sun that streams through the stained glass wi...

Festival
Sydney : Head On 2014
Tami Xiang

Originally from China, photographic artist Tami Xiang now lives in Perth in Western Australia. She says starting her new life in a foreign country prompted her to think more about the culture she had left behind. Her series Nüwa Re-Awakening draws on the ancient legend of th...

Festival
Sydney : Head On Festival
Genesis Project

The brainchild of Australian photographer Brian Cassey, Genesis Project features two images from each of the 19 photographers invited to participate in this group show - one framed image that signifies the moment when they thought their work was good enough to be considered profe...

Festival
Sydney : Head On 2014
2014 Winners

Joe Wigdahl wins the Head On Portrait Prize with Family Loss
 series. Nick Hannes wins the Head On Landscape Prize with Cairo, Egypt series and Clare Bardsley-Smith wins the Head On Mobile Prize with her series titled Boy vs Wild.

Festival
Sydney : Head On 2014
Genesis Project

The brainchild of Australian photographer Brian Cassey, Genesis Project features two images from each of the 19 photographers invited to participate in this group show - one framed image that signifies the moment when they thought their work was good enough to be considered profe...

Interview
Head On Photo, Sydney 2015 : Director Moshe Rosenzveig talks to Alison Stieven-Taylor

2015 marks the 6th outing of Sydney’s Head On Photo Festival, which is Australia’s largest photographic event. This year Moshe Rosenzveig, the festival’s director, has programmed an eclectic group of exhibitions designed to attract those who are professionals as...