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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

Another week, another photography show about death. It’s not officially about death, mind you; it’s officially about the years 1840 to 1860, when photographers made their images on paper sensitised with silver salts. The process was quickly superseded, but the pictures created this way have a beautiful artistic softness and subtlety of tone, quite apart from the fact that every single new photograph that succeeded represented a huge leap forward in the development of the medium.

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Tate Britain Until Monday May 25 2015
2

Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen: Working Process

Known for his controversial and unorthodox approach to fashion, Alexander McQueen collaborated with photographer Nick Waplington to create a unique record of his working practice. During the creation of the late fashion designer’s final Autumn/Winter 2009 collection, ‘The Horn of Plenty’, which reused elements from McQueen's previous collections, Waplington's photographs capture the creative process of sketching designs through to the Paris catwalk and pair them with images of recycling plants to comment on destruction and renewal.

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Tate Britain Until Sunday May 17 2015
3

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.  

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Science Museum Until Sunday September 13 2015
4

Apollo 8x10

This collection of vintage prints from missions including Apollo, Gemini, Skylab and Viking take us beyond the boundaries of earth. Recent films ‘Interstellar’ and ‘Gravity’ don’t have a patch on these astonishing images that bring us up close and personal to the great expanse of space.

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Daniel Blau Until Friday May 15 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.

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Photographers' Gallery Until Saturday June 6 2015 Free
6

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.

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The Wapping Project Bankside Monday April 20 2015 - Friday May 29 2015 Free
7

Magic Mirror

With her androgynous appearance, the French photographer Claude Cahun (born Lucy Schwob in 1894) created surreal self-portraits that questioned gender and identity in the midst of Nazi occupation. Here, alongside Cahun's work, Sarah Pucill’s film ‘Magic Mirror’ translates Cahun’s images into a series of tableaux vivants to explore the theme of self-identity in a postmodern context. 

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The Nunnery Until Sunday June 14 2015 Free
8

Marc Riboud: Paris to Peking

The Magnum photographer documented the beauty of daily life in Europe and the East with the same instinctive quality as his reportage of war. Here, the photographer has chosen a collection of his favourite and rarely seen images from his personal archive, featuring early images taken in China and London in the mid-'50s.

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Atlas Gallery Until Saturday May 9 2015 Free
9

Alexander Lindsay: Altitude

For his latest series, ‘Altitude’ the London-based photographer travelled over 20,000 miles across South America, enduring perilous environments to capture the wild and wonderful vistas of uninhabitable landscapes. With a desire to reveal ‘reality at its most stark’, Lindsay’s panoramic prints capture the natural world at it’s most unimaginable and magnificent.

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Piano Nobile Kings Place Until Saturday June 20 2015 Free
10

Astronomy Photographer of the Year

Among the awe-inspiring shortlisted entries for this year’s competition are pics of psychedelic auroras, spine-tingling meteor showers and the centre of the Heart Nebula. The free exhibition features remarkable photos from a record number of submissions, showcasing remarkable feats of astrophotography for a sixth year. It’s a chance to see magical views of both our own night sky and of galaxies far, far away.

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Royal Observatory Until Sunday July 19 2015 Free

Comments

16 comments
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 !! :-)