Top photography exhibitions in London

Look at life through the lens and find the best new photography exhibitions around London

© Maureen Paley

There's so much more to London art than just painting or sculpture – lose yourself in all kinds of new worlds by tracking down the best photography exhibitions in London.

From sweeping landscape scenes to powerful portraits captured by daring individuals, photography in London offers a full-exposure of thought-provoking, visually captivating art. Look away from the Instagram feed for just a minute and go explore.

RECOMMENDED: Check our complete guide to photography in London


Top photography exhibitions in London

August Sander

4 out of 5 stars

In the fake news era, a time when obvious lies can sway elections, it seems odd to think that the truth might actually be the most powerful weapon. But it was threatening enough in inter-war Germany to get August Sander’s photographs banned by the Nazis. 

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Hauser & Wirth , Mayfair Until Saturday July 28 2018

Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins

5 out of 5 stars

From its earliest days, photography has probed the hidden: from porn to politics, it’s been there and brought back the evidence. Beyond that, though, is a shadowy place where photographers become so tangled up in what they’re chronicling that roles become blurred. These are not just the margins of society, they’re the margins of creativity. That’s what ‘Another Kind of Life’ is about. 

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Barbican Centre , Barbican Until Sunday May 27 2018

Elsbeth Juda: Grit and Glamour

4 out of 5 stars

Winston Churchill, Sadler’s Wells ballet dancers and Britain’s first supermodel all feature in this, an exhibition of stunning photographs by Elsbeth Juda. The visionary photographer was known for her hugely elaborate photo-shoots for various arts and culture magazines. The results more than justify the excess, being both super stylish and often witty.

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Jewish Museum , Camden Town Until Sunday July 1 2018

Under Cover: A Secret History of Cross-Dressers

4 out of 5 stars

If you watched the Golden Globe-winning series 'Transparent' and were captivated by the sepia-tinted flashbacks to ‘30s Berlin, you’re going to fall in love with this show. If you didn’t get around to watching Jeffrey Tambor star as the parent of three who comes out as transgender later in life - and have no idea what I’m talking about - then head to The Photographers' Gallery anyway, because this is an exhibition well worth shunning time in front of the telly for. 

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Photographers' Gallery , Soho Until Sunday June 3 2018

Next up: the best art shows in London

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thomas v

Best wedding photographer of the year 2016

Adam F

Top 10? Where's the last 2 then?

greta b

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

Snapper C

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

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

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

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

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

@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

@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 !