There is something for every photography lover in London, whether you’re an avid digital enthusiast or a fan of early daguerreotype prints. Here are the best photography galleries London has to offer, from the Atlas in Marylebone, which focuses on the 20th century, to the largest photo-only space in the city at the Photographers’ Gallery, off Oxford Street.
In October 2018, the Photography Centre opened on level 3 of the V&A museum in South Kensington. Designed by David Kohn Architects, the centre is the first step in a plan to expand access to the V&A photography collection, which is made of around 800,000 photographs. From pioneering female photographers, including Julia Margaret Cameron and Cindy Sherman, to 20th-century male photographic artists and photojournalists, such as Alfred Stieglitz and Walker Evans, the centre presents an eclectic selection of prints and archival material charting the development of photography.
Tucked away just off Piccadilly, Huxley-Parlour focuses on photographers who have played a significant role in art history and shaping the field of photography, as well as showing art in other media. Formerly Beetles+Huxley, this is probably the best photography gallery London has when it comes to influential photographers and estates, presenting exhibitions by leading artists including Cecil Beaton, Elliott Erwitt, Bruce Davidson, Joel Meyerowitz, Alec Soth, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Steve McCurry and Vivian Maier.
One of the earliest specialised photography galleries in London, Hamiltons, founded in 1977, offers novel perspectives on some of the giants of 20th-century and contemporary photography. In a striking exhibition space, the likes of Don McCullin, Irving Penn, Nobuyoshi Araki and Annie Leibovitz have had their work displayed. The gallery has a reputation for representing the true masters of the field, so it’s unsurprising the exhibitions here never fail to reflect a striking level of prestige.
Based on a quiet street in the upmarket district of Chelsea, the Michael Hoppen Gallery, named after the founder, has been showing off all forms of photography for more than 20 years. The ground floor showcases world-renowned contemporary photographers chosen or represented by Michael Hoppen, such as William Klein and his striking photojournalism, which frames the open space. The staircase up to the second-floor gallery is wallpapered with nostalgic features and reviews of celebrated exhibitions over the years, leading to a reading room displaying pieces from the likes of Peter Beard around a well-stocked reference library. The gallery represents a long list of artists, covering fine art, wildlife, journalism, fashion and many other forms of photography – and it’s well worth stopping by to sample what’s currently on show or to purchase unusual prints from some of the best photographers in the world.
Just a short walk down King’s Road is Iconic Images (formerly the Little Black Gallery), a gallery dedicated to historic photographic archives. From striking imagery of political figures to music icons, this fascinating London gallery presents some of the more iconic photography exhibitions in the capital, including those featuring the work of Norman Parkinson, Terrence Donovan, John Swannell, and the best of Terry O’Neill – the British photographer who made his name shooting the stars of the 1960s.
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