Top 10 photography exhibitions in London

Discover a world beyond Instagram at the city's best current and upcoming photography shows

Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen: Working Process at Tate Britain, © NIck Waplington. Photo: Lucy Dawkins

London's cultural menu doesn't start and finish with paint on canvas – experience a whole new world of artistic awesomeness at these blockbuster photography exhibitions, taking place at venues including The Photographers' Gallery and Getty Images Gallery.

1

Salt and Silver: Early Photography 1840-1860

It was whilst William Henry Fox Talbot was on his honeymoon in Italy in 1833 that the Cambridge graduate came up with the idea to permanently capture an image on paper. Looking back to photography’s infancy and the invention of printing images using a solution of salt and silver nitrate this show of 90 images includes rarely seen portraits and day-to-day Victorian activities. You’ll even see Trafalgar Square being built in one of Fox Talbot’s earliest photographs of Nelson’s Colum being constructed. 

Read more
Tate Britain Until Sunday June 7 2015
2

Revelations: Experiments in Photography

The invention of photography helped Victorian scientists to capture things too small and too fast for the human eye to see. So it’s apt this Science Museum show should focus on the mutually inspiring terrain of scientific study and artistic endeavour. Bringing together the early photomicrography experiments of British inventor William Henry Fox Talbot with contemporary artists including Idris Khan and Clare Strand, ‘Revelations: Experiments in Photography’ reveals the everlasting aesthetic stimulus of early photographic techniques.

Read more
Science Museum Until Sunday September 13 2015
3

Victorian London in Photographs

Rapacious, unchecked development, a growing gulf between the richest and poorest and a realisation that modern life is damaging to mental health. Anyway, enough about London in 2015: here are some photos of dead people. There are plenty of contemporary resonances in these images of London from 1839 to 1901. One thing above all else drove Victorian photographers, and saw their technology evolve incredibly quickly: change. Almost all these pictures – many of them stunningly technically accomplished as well as being fascinating documents – reflect a city and a society whose pace of change is both thrilling and terrifying.

Read more
London Metropolitan Archives Tuesday May 26 2015 - Thursday October 8 2015 Free
4

Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness

Photography is both a medium of magic and manipulation, which for the past 35 years, Los Angeles-based artist, Christopher Williams has been deconstructing and demystifying. Collaborating with technicians, models and set designers, Williams creates immaculate photographs with hidden flaws. This survey that unexpectedly starts with his most recent work, brings together over 50 photographs in specially conceived architectural installations.

Read more
Whitechapel Gallery Tuesday May 26 2015 - Sunday June 21 2015 Free
5

Deutsche Börse Photography Prize

The most prestigious photographic award exhibition in the country, which gives a top prize of £30,000 for the best exhibition or publication of the past year,  returns with four new nominees: Nikolai Bakharev, Zanele Muholi, Viviane Sassen, Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse. The winner is announced on May 28.

Read more
Photographers' Gallery Until Saturday June 6 2015 Free
6

Andre Kertesz in Europe

Beginning with some of the Hungarian photographer’s earliest photographs from 1910 through his modernist period in Paris and continuing into the 1980s, this exhibition reveals a lesser know side of Kertesz’s practice. Celebrated for initiating the photo essay style said to have inspired Brassaï and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Kertesz’s distinctly evocative black and white photographs on display here, capture artists in their studios as well as urban landscapes including scenes of London’s embankment.

Read more
James Hyman Until Friday June 12 2015 Free
7

Thomas Struth

Over six years, the German photographer who made a name for himself with his black-and-white photographs of empty Düsseldorf streets and large-scale images of museumgoers gawping at exhibits, travelled to Isreal and the West Bank including Tel Aviv and Nazareth photographing various locations for the 'This Place' project. Inspired by the stories of his guides, Struth captured families, deteriorating architecture and desolate landscapes that bear the mark of human existence and action.

Read more
Marian Goodman Gallery Tuesday May 26 2015 - Saturday June 6 2015 Free
8

London Dust

German photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg has lived, worked and made art about London since the 1990s. This new series focuses on the marked differences between the CGI images of London on giant billboards promoting new office towers in the City and the dusty reality of the streets where these ads are displayed. Drawing attention to a shiny new dream of London, she raises questions about what is being ‘cleansed’ in the process.  

Read more
Museum of London Until Sunday January 10 2016 Free
9

Big is Beautiful

Including the works of Herbert Ponting, Slim Aarons and Thurston Hopkins, this show celebrates large-scale photographic prints. With the ability to seize the most microscopic as well as the most enormous aspects of life, photography continues to be awe-inspiring and what better way than magnifying the magnificence of this medium with truly monumental images.

Read more
Getty Images Gallery Until Saturday May 30 2015 Free
10

Alexander Gronsky

A verdant lakeside scene is bordered by high-rises and a day at the beach is overlooked by an urban housing development. For his first show at the gallery, Gronsky presents images from his 'Pastoral' series that captures Moscow's suburbs. Filmic, uncanny and alluring, Gronsky’s photographs contemplate how people inhabit different spaces.

Read more
The Wapping Project Bankside Until Friday May 29 2015 Free
See more photography in London

Comments

17 comments
Ron A
Ron A

The problem with most of these exhibitions is that they are not open on sundays late.London has a parking problem called traffic wardens, for people that want to go to places by car ( Rightly so or streets would be jammed). For family groups and others that need to go by car the only day it is possible to park free because councils dont want to pay wardens extra and companys are closed is sunday.So open sunday get more people to view.

Andy S
Andy S

I look forward each year to the World Press Photography Competition award winners exhibition which is at the South Bank, Royal Festival Hall in November. This is one of the photographic highlights of the year for me. 

The press photos are haunting, tremendously powerful and remind us of the relative safety we live in. Some are just too sad to contemplate for long and you are forced to shift your gaze or turn away for a moment.

The western Press seem to be so unconnected however to these traumatic events. You feel their Photographers take some snaps and just walk away, which they do.

I think I only read of one instance where a press Photographer tried to do something about the situation and set about helping the family who had been caught up in the crossfire.  Presumably there are others, but these are the exceptions. 

It reminds me of western international clothing chains doing virtually nothing about the collapsing factories in Bangladesh, where their sub-contractors lost 1,100 people. The unsafe practices & ridiculous, laughable 'salaries' carry on and genetically identical people to you and me, my family in the UK/EU and the developing world, continue to die and work for little or no salary. 

What do you think, or feel ?! 

Andy S
Andy S

@Nikolay L Beautiful shots, I would like to see more people in your photos and controversy ! :-)

helen
helen

World Press Photography Competition 2013, Royal Festival Hall , Southbank Two uncles carry their dead nephews in their arms, followed by an army of angry villagers, desperate for justice. A dead body of a suspected collaborator is dragged through the streets of Gaza City. The corpse of a Sudan Armed Forces soldier floats in an oily pond after a clash with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Looking at these harrowing photos it can be hard to believe that they are images of real life. And even harder to think there is someone one the other side of the camera, risking their life at times, taking the shot. The competition contains a combination of portraits, character studies, daily life, news and nature. But the majority seem to fall in the contemporary issues category, demonstrating conflicts of war, drugs, gangs and death. The exhibition comes with a warning for a reason. How the judges narrowed over 100,000 photos into this 55 exhibition amazes me, but it is clear why they are chosen. Though there are some strange additions, like the Danish photographer’s depiction of his family life on holiday in Italy, falling into the Daily Life category. His naked wife sits on the toilet yawning while a toddler rifles through the bin next to her. Another child is asleep in the next room. I’m not sure I’d be happy if I was her. The gallery has two separate sections which left it feeling slightly disjointed and would be easy to miss one whole part of the exhibition entirely. However, each photo is well annotated with just enough description of the event to draw the viewer into the scene without boring them. If you are of a nervous disposition, are already feeling depressed or emotional and have diminished faith in humanity- I would not visit. It is not an uplifting or ‘fun’ exhibition- but it will make you appreciate your own safe bubble of life. And make you want to buy a decent camera.

Giovanni Fanuele
Giovanni Fanuele

Bello e interessante! Anche la traduzione in Italiano è migliore della media. Bravi, complimenti. Saluti e auguri. From Brescia, Italy

Denn
Denn

This section seems like an afterthough - never seems to be comprhensive / updated enough.

Peter
Peter

There is fantastic exhibition of the ARENA GROUP of photographers at the Menier gallery, Southwark, Opened yesterday. Very moving & beautiful.

Andy S
Andy S

@Paul Genesis was a truly amazing exhibition, but I was disappointed at the lack of comments or descriptive anecdotes next to the photos by Sebastiao Salgado. It wasn't as good as his exhibition at the Barbican ! 

Jenny
Jenny

The Contemporary Art Society, based in Clerkenwell, is putting on a show by John Stezaker, Deutsche Borse 2012 winner, from 4 September. Not to be missed!

geoff
geoff

I only counted 9!

Andy S
Andy S

@geoff 10 now !! :-)