Initiated with the vision of providing a platform for photographers from all walks of life, the Festival has achieved this goal and made significant contributions to the global photography scene.

As we reflect on the achievements and highlights of the Head On Photo Festival over the years, it is clear that the Festival has showcased images and woven a tapestry of diverse voices and perspectives.

Activations that transcend boundaries

The Head On Photo Festival has not confined itself to traditional gallery spaces. Instead, it has activated various public spaces, from the iconic Bondi Beach to churches and beyond. This approach democratises art and fosters a unique connection between the audience and the exhibited works.

With 490,000+ visitors to free public exhibitions during the 2023 Festival period, public engagement with art and culture is at the forefront, making the annual Festival a positive and prominent contributor to the cultural fabric of Sydney.

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Stephen Godfrey

Showcasing diverse stories

With over 700 artists from 32 countries participating in the 2023 edition, the Head On Photo Festival has become a melting pot of diverse talents and perspectives. Every year, we showcase stories of conflict, cultural histories, the climate crisis, crucial global issues, personal narratives, and possibilities for the future.

The Festival exhibition and awards are proudly accepted through a unique judging process, in which the work is chosen without the creators’ names by a group of industry leaders. This approach ensures that the judging and selection process remains unbiased, focusing solely on the quality and artistic merit of the photographs.

Our visitor numbers in 2023 alone reaches unprecedented levels for a photography related event in Australia, highlighting the Festival’s growing impact on the public’s appreciation of photography as a powerful medium of expression.

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Moshe Rosenzveig OAM

Supporting photography at every stage

One of the festival’s key strengths lies in its commitment to supporting photographers at every stage of their careers. From the Student Awards that nurture emerging talents to the inaugural Environmental Awards that highlight the role of photography in driving positive change for the planet, the Head On Photo Festival catalyses artistic growth and social impact. From hosting regional workshops to exhibitions across Sydney, we have a proven track record for amplifying photography as an art form and a positive catalyst for change.

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Stephen Godfrey
A group of people standing on a grassy hill at Kandos Head On Foundation workshop 2023.

Adaptation and resilience

The Head On Photo Festival demonstrated its resilience during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the first photography festival to go online, it not only embraced the digital realm but also utilised outdoor exhibitions along the Bondi promenade, reaching an audience of up to 400,000 people during the Festival period. This adaptive spirit and a hybrid model ensured the Festival’s continuity in the face of adversity.

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A legacy of impact

Over the years, we have provided a stage for more than 6,700 artists, distributed over $870,000 in cash and prizes through the Head On Photo Awards, and activated over 350 galleries and public venues. The impact extends beyond geographical boundaries, with exhibitions touring Europe, the USA, and Asia. These contributions significantly benefit the arts industry and creative practitioners both locally and internationally.

As the Head On Photo Festival celebrates its achievements, it recognises its success is a collective effort. A small, dedicated team, volunteers, partners, and a supportive audience have been instrumental in overcoming challenges and pushing the boundaries of what a photography festival can achieve.

By signing our petition, you can extend your support of Head On so that we can overcome our current challenges and continuously be an asset to the cultural scene of Sydney and beyond. Spread the word if you want to keep the Festival going as it is.

Support us by signing the petition

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Stephen Godfrey

Images: Mark Tidy, Stephen Godfrey, Moshe Rosenzveig OAM

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Festival submissions open now

Submit your work to be considered for solo or group exhibitions in Head On Photo Festival 2024

Image detail: Matthew Newton