London’s galleries offer something for every photography lover, whether they’re an avid digital enthusiast or a fan of early daguerreotype prints. Culture Trip picks the very best photography galleries in London where you can experience legendary names and discover emerging talent.
Nestled in Piccadilly’s quiet backstreets, Huxley-Parlour Gallery focusses on photographers who have played a significant role in shaping the field of photography. Formerly Beetles+Huxley, the gallery represents many influential photographers, with exhibitions by leading artists including Cecil Beaton, Elliott Erwitt, Joel Meyerowitz, Steve McCurry, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Vivian Maier.
The Photographers’ Gallery presents an extensive yearly exhibition programme of emerging and established photographers across its impressive five floors. There is no permanent collection, but exhibitions are curated with an educational and historic focus and each year they host the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize. The gallery is also home to a bookshop, a café and a lively series of educational and social events, making it the perfect retreat from the bustle of Oxford Street.
From its quiet location in Chelsea, the Michael Hoppen Gallery has been specialising in all forms of photography for over 20 years. The ground floor showcases exhibitions from world-renowned contemporary photographers, with exhibitions such as William Klein’s striking photojournalism and editorial commissions. 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 exhibits and a well-stocked reference library. The gallery shows a strong calibre of artists covering fine art, wildlife, journalism and fashion photography.
In October 2018, the V&A opened their dedicated photography centre on level three, spread across Room 99 and the Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery. Designed by David Kohn Architects, it’s the first phase of the museum’s expansion of the displays of their coveted photography collection. From pioneering female photographers such as Julia Margaret Cameron and Cindy Sherman to 20th-century greats like Alfred Stieglitz and Walker Evans, the new centre presents a wide array of prints and archival material charting the cultural development of photography.
One of the earliest specialised photography galleries in London, founded in 1977, Hamiltons regularly showcases the giants of 20th-century and contemporary photography. With a reputation for showcasing the true masters of the field, from Irving Penn to Annie Leibovitz, the converted racquets court and music room have featured groundbreaking shows. These include American fashion photographer Herb Ritts’s now-iconic black and white imagery of the original supermodels, and British photojournalist Don McCullin’s remarkable reportage of conflict and division in English society.
Just along from Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone, the unassuming Atlas Gallery specialises in 20th-century photography, photojournalism and fashion photography. Having celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014, the gallery continues to curate around six unique exhibitions each year, presenting the work of important international photographers, including the first UK solo of the celebrated fashion photographer Arthur Elgort, and Danny Lyon’s powerful series documenting biker culture in 1960s America.
Just a short walk down King’s Road is Iconic Images Gallery (formerly The Little Black Gallery), a space dedicated to historic photographic archives. From striking imagery of political figures to music icons, the gallery presents iconic works by some of the world’s most collected photographers, including Norman Parkinson, Douglas Kirkland and the best of Terry O’Neill, the British photographer who made his name shooting the showbiz stars of the 1960s.