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Top photography exhibitions in London

Discover a world beyond Instagram at the best current and upcoming photography exhibitions in London

© Dorothy Bohm, 'Sixties London' at the Jewish Museum

London's art menu doesn't start and finish with paint on canvas – experience a whole new world of artistic awesomeness at our favourite photography exhibitions in London. From historical sweeps of beautiful images to daring and revealing shows of worldly wonders, London’s photography shows offer a full-exposure of art and thought. Read our full guide to photography in London for more photo news, features and reviews. 

RECOMMENDED: Check out the 40 best photos of London ever taken

Top photography exhibitions in London

The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection

When he’s not writing pop songs about wind-proof candles or knitting himself new wigs, Sir Elton John is a serious collector of modernist photography. No, honestly, he’s been buying the stuff for years, and his collection is world famous. This show features just a little slice out of his 8,000-strong hoard. Some images are grouped thematically, others hung in the same way they are in his office. 

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Tate Modern , South Bank Until Sunday May 7 2017

Malick Sidibé

Mali got its independence from France in 1960, and immediately became in thrall to a different kind of colonialism: a cultural one of rock ’n’ roll, motorbikes and jeans. At a time when the West was fretting about whether photography was even an art form, Malick Sidibé was taking pictures of young people in Bamako which contain all the issues in that debate: authenticity, imitation, control of the image. 

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Somerset House , Temple Until Sunday January 15 2017

Feminist Avant-Garde Of The 1970s

It’s a big one, this new exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery: 200-plus works by 48 artists from 20 countries. It’s also got a big name that some people will find pretty off-putting. In some ways that’s fine: more space for the rest of us to admire some incredible works of feminist art from the decade of ‘The Female Eunuch’, Spare Rib and defiantly abundant body hair. But it’s also perhaps a bit of a missed opportunity. 

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Photographers' Gallery , Soho Until Sunday January 8 2017

Teller on Mapplethorpe

One photographic provocateur curates another, as the German-born Juergen Teller is invited to select a number of the legendary Robert Mapplethorpe's pictures for this exhibition.

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Alison Jacques , Fitzrovia Until Saturday January 7 2017

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The prestigious nature photography exhibition returns this October. Now in its fifty-second year, the renowned and celebrated annual wildlife photography competition and exhibition returns to the Natural History Museum with images of the most extraordinary species on the planet, captured by professional and amateur photographers.  

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Natural History Museum , Brompton Until Sunday September 10 2017

Fauna Brazil

Admire photographs of the colourful and captivating wildlife of Brazil at this photography exhibition that makes up one part of the Horniman's Festival of Brasil. The animals on display include jaguars, macaws and porcupines.

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Horniman Museum , Forest Hill Until Sunday January 8 2017

David Bailey: NW1

Thirty-four years ago, photographer David Bailey released his book 'NW1': a series of images of Camden and Primrose Hill, where he had lived for decades. At that time, the area was in a state of crumbling disrepair – hard to imagine for those who know this swanky location now. To tie in with the book's re-printing, publishers HENI are holding an exhibitions of these poignant images form yesteryear.

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HENI Publishing , Soho Until Tuesday January 31 2017

Astronomy Photographer of the Year

Once again you can expect to see remarkable feats of astrophotography at the Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition. It’s a chance to see magical views of both our own night sky and of galaxies far, far away. The winning spacey visions come from dozens of professional and amateur snappers in various categories including ‘Planets, Comets and Asteroids’, ‘Stars and Nebulae’, ‘Galaxies’ and ‘Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year’ for under-16s.

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Royal Observatory , Greenwich Until Friday December 23 2016
Discover more photography in London

Next up: the best art shows in London

Top ten art exhibitions in London

Fancy seeing an art show this weekend but no idea where to go? Well look no further. You can't go wrong if you head down to one of our ten favourite art exhibitions taking place in the capital right now.

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By: Time Out London Art

Comments

16 comments
thomas v
thomas v

Best wedding photographer of the year 2016

www.instagram.com/twinclix_photography

www.twin-clix.co.uk

Adam F
Adam F

Top 10? Where's the last 2 then?

greta b
greta b

Also, no Kate Moss photos at the Photographers 2015 exhibitions.

Snapper C
Snapper C

@greta b Yeah I wondered where those photographs were too! Thought I'd somehow missed them.


greta b
greta b

The Photographer's Gallery is not in SoHo: it's a few meters off Oxford Street, at the end, near the Circus. Not SoHo.

Iain S
Iain S

@greta b Soho is bordered by Oxford Street and Regent Street. The Photographer's Gallery is well within those boundaries.

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 ?! 

Jonny S
Jonny S

I recommend watching the documentary McCullin about a British photographer. This man also mentions the "snap & run" culture of many photographers, but spent his own life staying in areas of crisis for days and weeks, trying to tell the truth with his photography.

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.

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 !