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Installation View of Jerwood/Photoworks Awards, Jerwood Space, 2018 | Photo: Anna Arca
Installation View of Jerwood/Photoworks Awards, Jerwood Space, 2018 | Photo: Anna Arca

The Photography Exhibitions to See in London

Picture of Freire Barnes
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 15 March 2018

From pop-ups to survey shows, here are all the photography exhibitions you don’t want to miss in London.

Hard Truths at Sotheby’s

Photojournalists put themselves in harm’s way to capture some of the most powerfully pertinent imagery of major international events, including humanitarian crises and conflicts. This three-day exhibition at Sotheby’s co-curated by David Furst of The New York Times and Arthur Ollman from the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography pays homage to five exceptional photojournalists: Ivor Prickett, Newsha Tavakolian, Daniel Berehulak, Meredith Kohut and Tomas Munita. From Kohut’s epic photographs of the ongoing protests in Caracas, Venezuela (below) to Berehulak’s coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on drugs in the Philippines, the 60 photographs give potent refections of urgent social and political issues impacting communities around the world.

Hard Truths: An exhibition of prize-winning photography from The New York Times us at Sotheby’s, from Friday March 16 to Sunday March 18, 2018. Opening times: Fri 10am-4.30pm; Sat-Sun 12-5pm.

VENEZUELA: Anti-Government Protests

Protesters waved the flag of the Venezuelan state of Táchira after seizing control of the main highway through Caracas. | © Meredith Kohut / The New York Times

Vera Lutter at Gagosian 

The German artist spends a long time in a giant camera obscura to produce her enormous photographs that reveal the artist’s fascination with architecture. Transforming a shipping container into a pinhole camera, Lutter can spend weeks –  even months (exposure time varies project to project) – to capture the city scape in its negative form. For Turning Time, Lutter brings together two series that explore the passing of time and technological innovation. You get to experience the ancient temples of southern Italy next to the enormous German radio telescope at the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomiey that records ancient radio waves from outer space. Here, monuments supposedly separated by centuries are reunited.

Vera Lutter: Turning Time is at Gagosian, 6-24 Britannia Street, London, WC1X 9JD until April 14, 2018.

photography exhibitions, london

Vera Lutter, Temple of Athena, Paestum XIII: October 13, 2015, 2015 |  © Vera Lu er. Courtesy Gagosian

Sixties Style at Proud Central

If a photograph could talk, you would want to have a conversation with any number of Brian Duffy’s prints that capture the essence of the Swinging Sixties so intensely you can almost smell the aroma of the streets. Celebrated for his many collaborations with David Bowie, this show presents many photographs not published since the 1960s, including fashion editorials, advertising campaigns and portraits of celebrities including Bowie, John Lennon and Michael Caine.

Sixties Style: Shot by Duffy is at Proud Central, 32 John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6BP until March 18, 2018.

photography exhibitions, london

Duffy, Paulene Stone, Colour Gels, Town Magazine, 1963| Photo Duffy © Duffy Archive

Illuminating India at Science Museum

As part of the Science Museum’s season of events and exhibitions celebrating India’s contribution to global culture and scientific thought, Illuminating India: Photography 1857–2017 gives us the first insight into both the cultural and technological development of photography in the subcontinentOften overlooked by Western art history, many of India’s famed photographers, from the first known photographer, Ahmad Ali Khan, to the first female photojournalist, Homai Vyarawalla, and award-winning contemporary photographer, Vasantha Yogananthan, get their time in the spotlight at this exhibition that magnificently charts India’s recent history.

Illuminating India: Photography 1857–2017 is at the Science Museum, Level 2, Exhibition Road, Kensington, London, SW7 2DD until March 31, 2018.

photography exhibitions, london

Wedding portrait of an Indian couple, c. 1920-40, unknown photographer and artist | Courtesy of the Alkazi Collection of Photography

Into the Woods at V&A

Ahead of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s (V&A) new Photography Centre opening later this year, the museum’s permanent photography collection and the recently acquired collection from the Royal Photographic Society have been brought together to present an inspirational display of trees in photography. Among the first subjects collected by the V&A, trees have been a creative stimulus for photographers for over 100 years. From botanical illustrations to symbols of cultural significance, you’ll encounter all manner of trees by some of the most celebrated names in photography, including Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Tal Shochat, Edward Steichen and Henri Cartier Bresson.

Into the Woods: Trees in Photography is at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Gallery 38a, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL until April 22, 2018.

photography exhibitions, london

Royal Engineers, Cutting on the 49th Parallel, on the Right Bank of the Mooyie River Looking West, about 1860 | © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Under Cover at The Photographers’ Gallery

Through a century’s worth of private photographs, the widespread practice of cross-dressing throughout Europe and the US is explored in this exhibition drawn from the extensive archive of filmmaker and photography collector, Sébastien Lifshitz. The majority of the images, dating back to 1880, are unnamed amateur photos picked up at markets, junk shops and eBay, and collectively they reveal a common vernacular of men and women defying gender conventions.

Under Cover: A Secrete History of Cross-Dressers is at The Photographers’ Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street, London, W1F 7LW until June 3, 2018.

photography exhibitions, london

Fairground performer, region of Washington, United States, circa 1940 | © Sebastian Lifshitz Collection. Courtesy of Sebastian Lifshitz and The Photographers’ Gallery

Victorian Giants at National Portrait Gallery

Featuring portraits of famous sitters such as Charles Darwin, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Lord Tennyson, this major exhibition brings together the four giants of Victorian photography – Julia Margaret Cameron, Oscar Rejlander, Lewis Carroll and Clementine Hawarden – for the first time. Of the featured works (many of which have not been seen in the UK since they were printed), it’s the ‘Father of Photoshop’ Rejlander’s remarkable and notorious Two Ways of Life (1856-7), made from over 30 negatives, that stands out as a highlight in this ground-breaking show.

Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography is at National Portrait Gallery, Porter Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE until May 20, 2018. £12, Cons £10.50.

photography exhibitions, london

Oscar Rejlander, Two Ways of Life, 1856-7 | © Moderna Museet, Stockholm

The Great British Seaside at the National Maritime Museum

Britain might not be known for its sunny weather, but that hasn’t stopped our love affair with the British seaside. This spring, the National Maritime Museum explores the traditions and eccentric customs of ‘a quintessentially British experience’, as well as the relationships we form with them, through the works of four celebrated photographers: Martin Parr, Tony Ray-Jones, David Hurn and Simon Roberts. Including newly commissioned works by Parr that capture London’s ‘local beaches’, you’ll discover the seaside isn’t all about fish and chips.

The Great British Seaside: Photography from the 1960s to the present is at the National Maritime Museum March 23 to September 30, 2018. Ticketed.

photography exhibitions, london

Martin Parr, GB England Dorset, from ‘West Bay’, 1996 | © Martin Parr/Magnum

Home at The Vinyl Factory

This international touring exhibition, which starts in New York before coming to London and then travelling on to Paris and Tokyo, is the collaborative brain child of Magnum and Fujifilm. Exploring the theme of ‘home’, 16 Magnum photographers will each elaborate their personal take on this universal topic, which encompasses geographical, biological, societal, cultural and emotional connotations.

Home is at The Vinyl Factory, 16-18 Marshall Street, London, W1F 7BE between May 18-27, 2018.

photography exhibitions, london

Norway, 2017 | © Jonas Bendiksen / Magnum Photos

Deutsche Börse at Photographers’ Gallery

For over 20 years, Deutsche Börse have supported and celebrated the work of international photographers who’ve had a significant impact on the medium. This year Mathieu Asselin, Rafal Milach, Batia Suter and Luke Willis Thompson have all been nominated for the acclaimed Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize for their dynamic works that reflect upon propaganda, visual taxonomies, and the production of knowledge.

Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 is at The Photographers’ Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street, London, W1F 7LW until 3 June, 2018.

photography exhibitions, london

Rafał Milach, Batumi, Georgia, 2013 | © Rafał Milach

Post-Soviet Visions at Calvert 22

Through the eyes of a young generation of photographers, this show presents the evolution of Eastern Europe’s landscapes and lifestyles 25 years after the end of Communism. From Hassan Kurbanbaev’s portraits of teenagers in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to Jędrzej Franek’s documentation of Polish tower blocks, the photographers each reflect on the realities of post-Soviet societal and cultural changes.

Post-Soviet Visions: image and identity in the new Eastern Europe is at Calvert 22 Foundation, 22 Calvert Avenue, London, UK, E2 7JP until 15 April, 2018.

photography exhibitions, london

©  Dima Komarov


Elliott Erwitt at Huxley-Parlour

In celebration of the Magnum photographer’s 90th birthday, this exhibition brings together 50 exceptional works from Erwitt’s early photographic experimentations, from when he moved to New York at eighteen to his now iconic shots of Paris in the late 1980s. This survey proves why the World Photography Organisation awarded Erwitt with the Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award in 2015.

Elliott Erwitt is at Huxley-Parlour, 3-5 Swallow Street, London, W1B 4DE until February 17, 2018.

photography exhibitions, london

Elliot Erwitt, USA. New York City, 1948 | Courtesy Beetles + Huxley

Jerwood/Photoworks Awards at Jerwood Space

The second edition of this annual award presents newly commissioned work by Alejandra Carles-Tolra, Sam Laughlin and Lua Ribeira, which explore various themes including the influence of collective identities, fears and the fragility of nature. The award gives the winning photographers a supportive platform to develop projects through professional guidance and a £5,000 bursary. We love Ribeira’s series Subida al Cielo, which comes from the photographer’s fear of death.

Jerwood/Photoworks Awards is at Jerwood Space, 171 Union Street, London SE1 0LN until March 11, 2018.

photography exhibitions, london

Lua Ribeira, Untitled from the series Subida al Cielo, originally commissioned through the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards, 2017 | © Lua Ribeira

Stuart Franklin at Leica Studio

Photography is both reflective and documentative. So, as part of Magnum’s 70th anniversary, member photographers have been looking back at the projects of some of Magnum’s earliest photographers that inspired and influenced their practice. As part of the Magnum Retold series, Stuart Franklin pays tribute to Magnum founder George Rodger with Temples of Stone, which captures his travels to Egypt and Morocco much like Rodger did some 60 years earlier.

Stuart Franklin: Temples of Stone is at Leica Studio Mayfair, 27 Burton Place, London, W1J 6NQ until February 17, 2018.

photography exhibitions, london

Egypt. Luxor, Ramesseum, Temple of Rameses II.

Want to see more exhibitions in London? Here are the best and free shows not to miss.