Street Photography festivals are growing every year. New and exciting opportunities are on offer to show off your work and learn more about your craft. London Street Photography Festival (LSPF) will be entering its second year in August. I was able to catch up with the events Director of Marketing, Becky Frances, and find out more about what to expect from the summers big event.
Dan Ginn - This is the second year that the festival has run. What have you learned from the first time round and is there anything you’re going to do differently?
Becky Frances - As a team we were pleasantly surprised at the overwhelming interest in the festival in its first year. Although we felt there was a need for London to host an event that brought street photographers from all over the world together, the positive reaction for an event in its first year was immense. As a result of this reaction, we have grown the exhibition this year to include more venue space so that the exhibitions can be more comprehensive. We are also looking at building on the youth component of the festival, providing workshops and possibly even mentoring younger photographers.
DG - The festival is 6 months away. Can you give us an insight as to what kind of preparation goes into the event leading up to the weekend?
BF - At the moment we are very much at the planning and scheduling stage. This involves meeting up as a committee to decide on participants in the form of judges, speakers and workshop holders. We are arranging the use of venues from the artistic community in Hackney Wick. We are also meeting on a regular basis to brainstorm new ideas for events that will happen over the period of the festival. Over the next 6 months, the details will be fine tuned and set in stone and by the beginning of August we will be ready to go.
DG - It seems Street Photography festivals are popping up all around the world now, as you are relatively new to the scene - what would you say sets you apart from all the other festivals?
BF - Street photography festivals are becoming more popular as the interest in the genre grows. Our aim is not to compete with the other big festivals around the world but to collaborate. For example, the winners of our competition last year will be shown at La Settimanale di Fotografia in Italy this summer. We have close relationships with other organisers, and are very grateful to the people behind Brussels, Miami and San Francisco festivals who gave us support and great advice during our first year. Having said that, we are promoting community as part of our ethos. This means that we are platforming emerging talent, with a special competition for the Under 21’s. Photographers contributing at the early stage of the life of the festival have a chance to get in at grass roots level and will ultimately have some influence on how the event takes shape over the next few years.
DG - Many people want to enter their work into festivals, however are unable to do so due to high entry fees. What is the festival doing to ensure that it is accessible to a wide range of street photographers?
BF - As part of our community ethos mentioned above, we feel it is important to make our competition as accessible as possible to the largest amount of people. We have done this by keeping the cost of entering the competition and low as we can. Not only that, it will be completely free to enter for the Under 21’s category, ensuring younger people have as much incentive as possible to get involved with the festival. LSPF is run on a comparatively small budget and we have been able to pass the savings we are making in other areas on to people who want to participate in the competition.
DG - For those looking to submit their work, what advice can you give them when selecting their images for submission?
BF - It is important to us that any entries should not have been finalists at any other major festivals. This is to prevent the competition becoming stale through the use of photographs that have already had major exposure throughout the year. We do welcome a variety of styles and backgrounds and reflect this in the choice of judges we make each year.
One of the judges of the Under 21’s competition this year as well as Festival Founder and Director of Production, Simon Peter Green says;
"I cannot speak for the other judges but personally I will be looking for candid, because candid is the central pillar of street photography. Then I like to see a strong defining moment, an emotion or happening, maybe something that offers a twist to the initial story. After that I'm checking for good light combined with a balanced composition. I don't like to see people's backs or ears, I like to see noses on faces - for me this is where the emotion is generated from. There are many things I'm looking for, having said that, some photos can rise above everything and project that bit of magic that lifts them to the highest level - sometimes you know within a millisecond that you are looking at a diamond".
DG - I can see you have more female members on the organising committee this year. Was this a conscious decision?
BF - After seeing how overlooked women are in the street photography genre and within the festivals in particular (some of whom included no women in their original lineups) we decided to make a commitment to set the balance right. We actively looked to recruit more women on the organising committee, judging panels and as educators. We found this easy to achieve as there are many talented women currently working in the field.
DG - Is there a concern that there may be a certain section of people who view this as photographers being favoured on the basis of their gender?
BF - We feel as a committee that this is a non issue. There is no need for positive discrimination as there are many talented women street photographers all over the world that are constantly overlooked. Making a conscious decision to include more women both on the organising committee and as judges does not mean we had to lower standards to do so. We also hope that by having a visible female contingent, we may encourage more women to get involved with the festival as a whole.
DG - Finally, as the festival is hosted in London - what kind of influence do you think the festival can have on the status of British Street Photography?
BF - We hope that the festival will have a cohesive effect on the community of British street photographers. One of the original points that was raised when the festival was in conception last year is that although there are many street photographers in this country, they are to some extent, fragmented. If the festival is used as a platform to bring people together so that new contacts are made and side projects are created, this is all the better for us.
LSPF runs from 3-5th August 2018. To keep up to date on the event, including workshops, speakers and competitions, visit their website http://lspf.co.uk/
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