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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

© Saul Leiter

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.


Lee Miller: A Woman's War

The Imperial War Museum's major autumn 2015 photography exhibition focuses on American fashion model, surrealist muse and photographer Lee Miller (1907-77) – who was one of only four female professional photographers to be accredited as US official war correspondents. The show considers Miller's vision of women and her own changing role in front of and behind the camera, as she moved across continents and between countries before, during and after WWII.

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Imperial War Museum , Kennington Until Sunday April 24 2016

Saul Leiter: Retrospective

It seems an irony that Saul Leiter always considered himself more a painter than a photographer. Firstly, because it was the latter that made his name. Secondly, because he was pretty bad at the former. Leiter moved to New York in the 1940s, soaked up the abstract expressionist scene, and occasionally showed his twitchy, garish, overworked paintings in galleries in the East Village. Fortunately, alongside the art exhibitions, he also visited a show of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photography in 1947.

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Photographers' Gallery , Soho Until Sunday April 3 2016

Julia Margaret Cameron

Critics' choice

We take it for granted today but when photography was first invented, it must have been extraordinary to witness a moment in time captured forever as a static image. When you look at Julia Margaret Cameron’s photographs from more than 150 years ago, you are reminded why photography was, and still is, so enchanting. 

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V&A , Brompton Until Sunday February 14 2016

Alec Soth: Gathered Leaves

For his first major UK exhibition, the American photographer presents works from four of his formidable projects: Sleeping by the Mississippi, Niagara, Broken Manual and Songbook. With his inquisitive eye, Soth captures glimpsed moments and evocative portraits in timeless black-and-white images and stunning colour shots,  forming a vision of modern American life.

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Science Museum , Brompton Until Monday March 28 2016

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize

Offering a kaleidoscopic peek at global photo-portrait talent, this yearly prize is judged anonymously, so it’s a mixed bag of established and rising artists. Subjects range from celebrities – Benedict Cumberbatch photographed for Out magazine, Peter Capaldi for the Sunday Times – to regular folk, such as Birgit Püve’s captivating portrait of Estonian woman Fagira D Morti, and the £12,000-winning portrait by David Stewart, who captured his twentysomething daughter and her jumper-clad friends in ‘Five Girls’.

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National Portrait Gallery , Leicester Square Until Sunday February 21 2016

Mario Cravo Neto: A Serene Expectation of Light

Mario Cravo Neto (1947-2009) was a highly influential Brazilian photographer. Having originally trained as a sculptor, he moved into photography after a car accident in the ’70s left him bedridden for a year. Of his images – which focus on the spiritual practices of the Bahia region of Brazil, tracing their origins to West Africa – Cravo Neto said: ‘It is simply a religious position… that I want to adopt.’ 

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Rivington Place , Shoreditch Until Saturday April 2 2016

Mariele Neudecker: Plastic Vanitas

Mariele Neudecker’s photographs of seemingly ephemeral and unrelated plastic objects – hair rollers, drinks bottles, kitchen utensils, all collected during a residency at Museum of Design in Plastics – make reference to vanitas, an eighteenth-century genre of still-life painting. Framed within this tradition, the German artist’s images take on new and unexpected meanings, while also commenting on more modern-day notions of consumerism.

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The Nunnery , Bow Until Sunday March 27 2016

Noh Suntag: Dance of Order

 Korean artist Noh Suntag examines the history of his fractured homeland through a series of photographic works. Humorous – if bleakly so – these images reveal the clashing of ideologies between North and South Korea, and their strange co-existence.

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43 Inverness Street , Camden Town Saturday February 13 2016 - Saturday March 12 2016

New Builds

This four-person show explores the complex creation of photographic images today – including Daniel Gordon's photos of still lifes, which are shots of sets made up of photographic images given a onceover in Photoshop to give them a heightened effect. 

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Josh Lilley , Fitzrovia Until Thursday March 3 2016

Nick Danziger: Eleven Women Facing War

In 2001, the acclaimed photographer and filmmaker Nick Danziger took pictures of 11 women who lived in the major conflict zones of the time, as part of an Internation Committee of the Red Cross study. Ten years later, Danziger set out to track down each woman, in an endeavour that took him as far and wide as Kosovo and Sierra Leone and forms the basis of this exhibition at the IWM.

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Imperial War Museum , Kennington Until Sunday April 24 2016
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