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.


Human Rights Human Wrongs

It’s good to start with a joke, but there are really not a lot of laughs in this show. Drawn from Toronto’s Black Star Collection – an archive set up by three Holocaust survivors – it presents more than 300 examples of postwar photojournalism. Arranged chronologically, it takes as its starting point the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948, and partly prompted by Nazi atrocities. From there, it ranges globally across Africa, Asia, South America, the Civil Rights Movement in the States and political upheaval in Europe. At its heart is a story about the role of the image in a pre-digital age.

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Photographers' Gallery Until Monday April 6 2015 Free

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 The process was quickly superseded, but the pictures created this way have a beautiful artistic softness and subtlety of tone, quite apart from the fact that every single new photograph that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

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

The Syngenta Photography Award Exhibition

Aiming to stimulate global discussion through thought provoking photographic responses to worldwide issues, the second edition of this annual photography prize focuses on 'Scarcity-Waste'. Showcasing over 40 photographers including six of the professional commission and open competition finalists, a subject most of us would like to ignore is captured in striking ways.

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Somerset House Until Friday April 10 2015 Free

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

Karen Knorr: BP Spotlight

The politics of representation was a hot topic in the 1970s and ’80s. Culture wars were in full swing and identity (gender, race, class, you name it) was up for grabs. Photographer Karen Knorr must have thought just that when she set out to capture, in situ, London’s upper classes at the height of the Thatcher era. The result is two photo series: ‘Belgravia’ (1979-81), domestic scenes depicting posh west Londoners, and ‘Gentlemen’ (1981-83), portraits of cocksure members gliding through gentlemen’s clubs.

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Tate Britain Until Sunday October 4 2015

Viviane Sassen: Pikin Slee

The only way to access the remote rainforest village of Pikin Slee is by a three-hour canoe ride. There lives an isolated community, the Saramacca. In 2012, the Dutch-born photographer, who’s known for her innovative fashion photography, traveled to this secluded part of the Upper Suriname River and captured the village's unassuming way of life.

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ICA Until Sunday April 12 2015

The Age of Salt: Art Science and Early Photography

This small show also charts the early days of salt printing and its pioneer, William Henry Fox Talbot, and includes his ‘Veronica in Bloom’ (1840), one of the icons of early photography.

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James Hyman Monday March 30 2015 - Tuesday March 31 2015 Free

Eva Stenram: Positions

Eva Stenram presents the UK premiere of her ongoing series 'Parts', as well as new photographs specially conceived for this exhibition.

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Siobhan Davies Studios Until Tuesday March 22 2016

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Celebrating its fiftieth year, the renowned competition exhibition returns to the Natural History Museum with images of the most extraordinary species on the planet captured by professional and amateur photographers. Attracting record number of visitors each year, the beguiling entries include stunning under water views of Australian sea lion pups playing to the unlikely vision of a texting monkey.

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Natural History Museum Until Sunday August 30 2015



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


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


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


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!


I only counted 9!