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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

© Sergio Carbajo/Travel Photographer of the Year

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. Or head to our Photography in London hub to find all the latest photography exhibitions and reviews.


Shirley Baker: Women, Children and Loitering Men

Critics' choice

Focusing on a significant body of work that spanned 20 year, this exhibition presents Baker’s frank photographs of the impoverished groups targeted and displaced during the slum clearances of Manchester and Salford.

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Photographers' Gallery, Soho Until Sunday September 20 2015

Hannah Collins

Critics' choice

Hannah Collins’s work can be massive but, even though the London-born artist fills entire walls with beautiful blown-up photographs, she’s no grandstanding lens-wielder in the Andreas Gursky mould. For a start, her subject matter – which includes mattress-strewn interiors shot in a startlingly pre-gentrified 1980s East End – tends towards the down-at-heel.

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Camden Arts Centre, Frognal Until Sunday September 13 2015

The Temptations of Pierre Molinier

The fetishistic eroticism of the French surrealist is demonstrated in this sexy selection of over 50 photographs, drawings and paintings from 1952 until his death.

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Richard Saltoun, Fitzrovia Until Friday October 2 2015

Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon

Critics' choice

The waiflike muse of Givenchy, not only captivated the fashion world but also the big screen. This summer the National Portrait Gallery celebrate the British actress, dancer and humanitarian worker with an exhibition of exquisite and rarely seen photographs.

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National Portrait Gallery, Leicester Square Until Sunday October 18 2015

Christina Broom: Soldiers and Suffragettes

Critics' choice

Considered the first female press photographer, Christina Broom took to the Edwardian London streets documenting daily routines and notable events. From First World war soldiers enjoying Christmas lunch and suffragettes campaigning for women’s right to Oxford Street bustling with horse drawn carriages and the Oxford and Cambridge boat race, Broom’s candid approach, captured pivotal moments of cultural history.

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Museum of London Docklands, Canary Wharf Until Sunday November 1 2015

Vivian Maier

Incorrigibly private, Vivian Maier’s secret life as a photographer wasn’t discovered until boxes of over 100,000 negatives and undeveloped film rolls were bought at auction two years before her death. Thanks in part to the documentary film ‘Finding Vivian Maier’ about the discovery and the subsequent exhibitions of this street photographer; Maier is no longer an unknown photographic talent and joins the ranks of Brassai, Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans. It was Maier’s day job as a nanny that enabled her to trawl the streets of Chicago and New York for unsuspecting subjects who she captured with her Rolliflex. 

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Beetles & Huxley, Mayfair Until Saturday September 5 2015

Victorian London in Photographs

Critics' choice

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.

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London Metropolitan Archives, Clerkenwell Until Thursday October 8 2015

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, Brompton Until Sunday September 13 2015

Travel Photographer of the Year

You can look at this annual award for the best of the past year’s travel photography in two ways. The first, perhaps cynical way, is to thank these show-offs a bunch for reminding you of all the amazing destinations you spectacularly failed to make it to last year, or indeed any year. Or, with a leap of the imagination and a little poetry in your heart, you can allow yourself to be transported to places as far afield as the Peruvian Andes, the foothills of the Himalayas and the Namib-Naukluft National Park in Namibia.

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Royal Geographical Society, Knightsbridge Until Saturday September 5 2015

Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1852-1860

Documenting archaeological sites, monuments and landscapes of India and Burma, Captain Linnaeus Tripe gave western society a rare and unique view of these far off lands in the 19th-century. As part of the V&A’s India Festival, this showcase of over 60 photographs reveals how Tripe pioneered the possibilities of photography to create captivating as well as educating images.

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V&A, Brompton Until Sunday October 11 2015
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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 ! :-)


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.

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 !