Photo Festival Roundup

LENSCRATCH has a great calendar of international photography festivals on its site.

Here’s what’s coming up in May. Go HERE for the full list.


Palm Springs Photo Festival
The Palm Springs Photo Festival Connect 2017 offers the opportunity for professional, emerging professional & serious advanced amateur photographers to study with legendary photographers, show portfolios in our celebrated portfolio review program, check out the latest gear, attend cutting-edge seminars, symposiums, networking events and enjoy evening presentations by world famous image-makers.

Flash Forward Festival Boston
An extension of The Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Annual Competition for Emerging Photographers. Five-day festival based out of the Fairmont Battery Wharf, offering organized networking events and educational programming.

CONTACT Toronto Photography Festival
Annual festival of photography in Toronto, with over 1000 local, national and international artists exhibiting at almost 200 venues.

Guernsey Photography Festival
Brings together major names in international photography with a host of emerging talent, for a packed month of exhibitions, workshops and events on the beautiful island of Guernsey.

LOOK Liverpool International Photography Festival
Festival in England that includes exhibition openings, artist talks, workshops.

New York Photo Festival
Mix of fine art, editorial, and commercial work with exhibitions all over DUMBO, Brooklyn.

Photo Month in Krakow
A month long festival in Poland with a fine art orientation.

Head On Photo Festival
Australia’s largest annual photography festival held in May in Sydney, showcasing the work of international and local photographers.

Diffusion Cardiff International Festival of Photography
A month long festival of exhibitions, discussions, screenings, performances, events and celebrations in both physical and virtual spaces.

Tbilisi Photo Festival
Georgia (Europe)

Reportage Festival
International Photo Festival in Sydney focusing on photojournalism and documentary photography.

Riga Photo Month
A new photo festival in the Baltic Sea Region, located in a unique geographic position for building a regional networking and cooperation platform. A meeting place for Baltic, Nordic and Eastern European Photography.

International Festival of Photography in Łódź, Poland.

FIX Photo Festival
FIX Photo will be open for nine days at the central London Bargehouse venue. The festival coincides with Photo London at Somerset House and Off Print at Tate Modern. Artist’s talks, curator tours, book launches, signings and events will run throughout.


Capture of the Day: Sean Norman

Sean Norman owns a beautiful guesthouse in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada where I stayed last July.

Of course, that was the time of Midnight Sun, but since about September, Sean, who also a passionate aurora hunter and leads northern lights tours, has been sharing his amazing photos. This one was taken a few days ago during a major aurora event.

Yellowknife is located about 400 km south of the arctic circle on the shore of Great Slave Lake. The mostly flat landscape of tundra and ancient Canadian Shield granite, along with a dry climate, make the area a perfect — and popular — place for winter sky watchers.

See more of Sean’s work on his Instagram page:


Essay: Stone’s Throw From Hell

Human Intervention in the Middle of Nowhere

by Gina Williams
Originally published by Kudzu House

Blood drips from the snake’s mouth and splatters in a semicircle on the hot asphalt. He’s coiled defensively in the road after being struck by a passing vehicle. The large gopher snake is hurt, angry, looking to blame, but he isn’t going to kill me, even if he does manage to strike. He isn’t venomous, and gopher snakes are constrictors.

I lift the hurt, hissing reptile with a walking stick and gently move him off the road. I stupidly say, “Now stay off the road,” like I’m talking to a Chihuahua. This partially paved road in deep southeastern Oregon is fairly well-traveled, but it’s wide, and rarely do two cars ever pass. I’m hours from anyplace with real traffic. A four-inch-thick, five-foot-long snake warming himself in the midmorning sun is pretty tough to miss, even at high speed. I could spend the rest of my days dragging snakes off sunbaked highways and never save them all. But if he lives, he’ll go on to dine on crop pests like gophers, mice, and rats that plague the farm and ranchlands. He’ll sink his teeth. He’ll slither. It will go on.

Stone's Throw From Hell

Out here, where there are more antelope than people, it seems the tailings of our rough-hewn human existence are more starkly evident than in other places. A ball of barbed wire from an old ranch left to rust in the middle of a nature preserve. A single bullet embedded in the dry alkaline lakebed. An abandoned stone house, its dirt floors now covered in cow manure left by wandering herds. A dead coyote lying in the ditch, his face blown off. A snake, haphazardly struck, its blood marking the road that will take me home. A sun-faded beer can, shot up for target practice and forgotten full of holes, twenty-five miles from the nearest trash can.

Left Behind

Near the barbed wire, two enormous iron tubs remain, where Chinese laborers worked a borax mine from 1892-1902. They worked for a dollar fifty per day, seven days a week, year-round, only two weeks off for the Chinese New Year. Miners mixed sulfuric acid and spring-heated lake water with crude borax from the lakebed and refined it into pure borax crystals. It was loaded in ninety-pound sacks and sent by mule train to Nevada. In ancient times, burak was mined in the Middle East and used to preserve mummies.

barbed wire.jpg

It’s also valuable as a detergent stabilizer, fertilizer, and weed killer, among other uses. Thick, white mineral crust crunches beneath my hiking boots as I walk along the shore, looking for migrating birds where mammoths once roamed and Chinese men once scooped so-called white gold into boiling vats. I consider how native grasses and fish are more precious here now, more valuable than minerals, how we’ve evolved just enough to protect carefully selected pieces of the earth from our own destructive tendencies.

cloudburst at hart mountain

I stare at the bullet for a long time. How long will it take for it to succumb to weather and erosion and disappear into the playa forever? Fifty years? A hundred? Seeing it there, embedded in the dried lakebed, reminds me of the 10,000-year-old Pleistocene crescent tool I found nearby once, in a similar position, just as forgotten but a hundred times more permanent. There were mastodons here then and ancient horses. There were giant camels and woolly mammoths and other large game animals that wandered and grazed the immense grasslands and the soupy marshlands of the humid lake country. Native Americans lived in surrounding caves and fished from reed boats. The tiny, inch-long crescent, carved from chert, a type of quartz, was likely used to skin rabbit hides all that time ago. The rabbits now run from the sound of flying bullets, leaving not a single sign out here unscathed.

ant with rice1

During breakfast at a café in a town with a shot-up population sign that reads 15, I ask a cowboy about rabbit hunting. He’s sitting next to me at the counter, sopping up yolks with thick slices of buttered sourdough. I ask him about the pile of dead jackrabbits down the road. The stack of them rotting in the sun six feet high. A rancher sitting next to him is laughing about how easy it is to stun rabbits with spotlights at night. “Why?” I say, probably annoying the hell out of them. “Why just kill them and leave them?”

The way the dripping yellow yolk balls up on the twisted ends of his mustache turns my stomach a little, but I can’t look away. He continues chewing, silently. Then, without looking at me or putting his fork down, he says, “Jackrabbits ain’t no good. All they are is full of parasites.”

Of the Land

I think of the spent bullet, the barbed wire, rotting meat, stone crescent, borax tubs, stone houses, Pleistocene horses, reed boats, bloody snakes, empty skies. A coyote howls in the distance. Bacon sizzles on the grill. Somebody drops a dish in the back.

“Just because, then?” I say, pushing my fork around in my hash browns, feeling both awkward and strangely bold among these strangers.

“Yep,” the cowboy says, tossing his dirty napkin onto his plate and wrapping thick, dirt-stained hands around his coffee mug. “That, and some guys with guns and beer got bored, I guess.”

After breakfast, I slip into the cottonwood thicket near the café. A trail leads around a small pond. Quail scatter into the brush, topknots bobbing. A great-horned owl swoops in near silence from a branch. An old barbed wire fence sags at the edges of the grove. Now, in some places, fencing is being pulled by volunteers to open land for pronghorn herds and to protect birds like sage grouse from entanglement, even as shiny new strands of razor wire are raised at a prison expansion on the other side of the state, always keeping some out, putting others in.



Capture of the Day: Valentina Brancaforte

I love sharing this image today, on Earth Day, of a wolf taken by Italian photographer Valentina Brancaforte during her winter 2017 trip to Norway’s Lofoten archipelago Polar Park Arctic Wildlife Center during a workshop with photographer and instructor Luca Bracali.

The beautiful photo was also featured by National Geographic:

I was lucky enough to meet Valentina during a stop in Rome in March. Thank you for your friendship, congratulations on your successes and much appreciation for you and your talent, Valentina!

Here’s a great clip showing the cascading positive impacts when wolves were reintroduced in the U.S., bringing balance back to ecosystems.

Valentina is also a brilliant portrait artist. See more of her work here:

and on her Facebook Page here: 

valentina portrait


Our Own Brutal Use of the Land

In “American Landscapes,” a published collection of photographs from the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art (1981), John Szarkowski writes about wilderness, wildness, public treasures and our human treading upon them. He also writes about what it means to photograph a landscape, to contemplate our apprehension of the “difference between our special human concerns and the earth’s own compulsions.”

“We have been half persuaded by Thoreau and by the evidence of our own brutal use of the land that the earth is beautiful except where man lives, or has passed through; and we have therefore set aside preserves where nature, other than man, might survive….this is an imaginative and admirable idea, and would perhaps be nobler still if we locked the gates to these preserves and denied ourselves entrance, so that we could imagine better what transpires there. We could then turn our attention to the rest of the earth, the part in which we live, which is not yet devoid of life and beauty, and which we might still rescue as a place worth celebrating.”

“This is perhaps what photographers have begun to do,” he continues. “….and trusting that attention will grow into affection, and affection into a measure of competence, so that we might in time learn to live not merely on the earth but with it.”

Image credit: Henry Wessel, Jr.

Capture of the Day: Jan Sears

California photographer Jan Sears first took to the skies as a young boy. He began flying with his grandfather at the age of 10. He’s now a traffic pilot and makes stunning aerial images of beautiful San Francisco Bay and surrounding areas.
I met Jan at a Magnum Photos workshop in San Francisco. He’s currently working on several projects, including documentary and street photography. He loves flying, but what he also loves is the art of photography and the ability, through the lens, to tell stories and stop time, even while the props are spinning and the clock hands are ticking. Jan hasn’t spent much of his life without a camera in hand. He’s been chasing light and capturing moments, even before he began earning his wings, taking his first photos at the age of eight.
Learn more about Jan and his work here: and on Instagram:
*Images copyright Jan Sears

Capture of the Day: Seby Scollo

Italian photographer, adventurer and conservationist Seby Scollo loves the beauty and magnificence of “Pianeta Terra” as much as I do. He lives in Catania, Italy (east coast of Sicily) where his Mt. Etna is like my Mt. St. Helens (though much more active lately) & recently captured amazing shots of an eruption. I met him in person while traveling with photographer Luca Bracali to Rome and certainly hope to catch up with him again somewhere in the world.

While in Rome, Seby gave me this beautiful photograph of a polar bear he took while in Churchill, Canada.

polar bear

You’re a rockstar, Seby!

Check out his Instagram feed here: