Top 10 photography exhibitions in London

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

Dominic Hawgood at TJ Boulting

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.


Conflict, Time, Photography

Conflict has an immeasurable impact on civilisations, landscapes, countries, cities, towns, loved ones and our memories. So a photographic exhibition about war might not strike you as an engagingly rewarding blockbuster show. But this enlightening and thoughtful survey is exactly that. Through images taken moments, days, weeks, months and years after the event, the effect and trauma of war is re-evaluated from the reflective viewpoint of artists and photojournalists without relying on explicit imagery. 

Read more
Tate Modern Until Tuesday April 14 2015

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 The process was quickly superseded, but the pictures created this way have a beautiful artistic softness and subtlety of tone, quite apart from the fact that every single new photograph that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

Read more
Tate Britain Until Monday May 25 2015

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.

Read more
Photographers' Gallery Until Monday April 6 2015 Free

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.

Read more
Tate Britain Until Sunday March 29 2015

Guy Bourdin: Image Maker

Provocative, surreal and instantly recognisable: the work of Guy Bourdin marks a high point in twentieth century fashion photography, turning editorial and advertising imagery into something rich and strange. Guy Bourdin: Image Maker is the UK’s largest ever exhibition of his work, charting his 40 year career from protégé of Man Ray to photography revolutionary. Over 100 colour exhibition prints, as well as early and late works in black and white, will be on display, along with Polaroid test shots, contact sheets and transparencies.

Read more
Somerset House Until Sunday March 15 2015

Dominic Hawgood: Under The Influence

Photographer Dominic Hawgood met evangelist Christian pastors all around London – predominantly from the capital’s African communities – while researching his latest series ‘Under the Influence’. The recent Royal College of Art graduate, and 2014 winner of the British Journal of Photography’s prestigious International series award, did so in part to observe the churches’ intense exorcism rituals (often peculiarly livestreamed on to huge in-house screens), and in part to further his own search into the eternally fascinating subject of faith.

Read more
TJ Boulting Until Saturday March 21 2015 Free

Hair: Object of Desire and Culture

Whether you’re a bangs kinda gal or a mohawk boy, these incredible vintage prints, which give us an anthropological look at hair through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, will have you pondering what your barnet says about your political and social leanings.

Read more
Daniel Blau Until Friday March 20 2015 Free

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.

Read more
ICA Until Sunday April 12 2015

Anja Niemi: Darlene & Me

The Norwegian photographer continues to explore the dual role of creator and subject in her latest series about split personalities. Taking on the guise of a fictional character ‘Darlene’, Niemi appears multiple times within one image to question the relationship we have with ourselves.

Read more
The Little Black Gallery Saturday March 7 2015 - Tuesday March 10 2015 Free

Henri Cartier-Bresson: A Decisive Collection

A display of prints from one private collection by the master of candid photography and ‘father of photojournalism’. Boasting a balanced combination of well-known and virtually unseen Cartier-Bresson photographs, the collection features unusual sets of Paris during the student riots of 1968 as well as unexpected celebrity portraits of cultural figures including Francis Bacon, Coco Chanel and Pablo Picasso.

Read more
Beetles & Huxley Until Thursday March 26 2015 Free



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!