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Image: John Swainston

“The Head On Photo Festival is one of the great recent success stories of the cultural scene in Sydney and NSW… It is my strong belief that events such as the Head On Photo Festival make our city, our state and our world a brighter, more vibrant, more tolerant place. And more fun too.”
The Hon. Don Harwin, MLC, Minister for the Arts

What a buzzing festival and what an amazing response!

Some numbers:

  • – 898 exhibiting photographers
  • – 388 industry creatives participated
  • – 224 exhibition and events
  • – 69 venues
  • – 25 international guests
  • – 5 million impressions at exhibition venues and public installations

A handful of stunning Head On Photo Festival exhibitions are still running, check out what’s still open


New look program – launched this year

Image: Stephen Godfrey

We listened to your valuable feedback and spent considerable time and effort to design a knockout festival program. Complete with great images and text, the beautiful A5 book showcases the amazing work we had in the Festival. This is not just a gallery guide; it is a book worthy of collecting. 

The printed program reflected our more sophisticated exhibition design and curation throughout Head On to Oxford St centring Paddington as Head On’s major creative precinct, incorporating the Festival Hub at Paddington Town Hall, Paddington Reservoir Gardens, Oxford St shop fronts and local galleries.

Our BIGGEST Festival Launch ever

Image: Stephen Godfrey

This year’s Head On Photo Festival kicked off with a spectacular launch at UNSW Art & Design opened by the Hon. Don Harwin, Minister for the Arts. A huge crowd of over 2200 soaked up the atmosphere enjoying live music, performance art by Emma Hack and four projections of the festival highlights culminating in the announcements of the Head On Photo Awards winners.

Festival seminar, workshops and artist talks

Image: Moshe Rosenzveig

Complementing the multitude of indoor and outdoor exhibitions, and unique installations, we created an opportunity to meet and discuss ideas through our seminar, workshops and free artists talks.

Workshop participants gained first-hand insight into the international scene from acclaimed conflict photographer Paula Bronstein’s insights with additional local knowledge from award-winning photojournalist David Dare Parker.

The Head On Seminar featured sessions about current trends in photography, practical advice about marketing and preserving images as well as getting your projects up and running! Our 22 excellent presenters were a mix of international and local experts, highly experienced and some young, emerging practitioners to look out for.

Photo: Michael Amendolia 

The series of free artists’ talks at the Festival Hub in Paddington Town Hall was a great opportunity to hear stories and ask questions about the motivation and ideas behind the exhibitions.

Nancy Brorowick‘s artist talk. Image: Stephen Godfrey

Head On Photo Festival – a Leading Place Maker

Image: Moshe Rosenzveig

Bringing photography to the general community through beautiful activations & installations helps to promote photography in the public sphere, and to enrich and stimulate the city’s cultural landscape. Head On’s innovative public installation program presented pop-up installations at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Pitt St Mall, QVB Forecourt, Paddington Reservoir Gardens, in shopfronts and on banner poles further cement Head On Photo Festival’s reputation as a premium place-maker.

Paddington Reservoir Gardens

Image: Stephen Godfrey

This venue has been one of the Festival’s highlights since its inception in 2010.  This year, together with more ‘traditional’ exhibitions we featured three installations: floating panels in the water commenting on pollution of our lakes, oceans and rivers, a purpose built cage depicting Guantanamo Bay and a simulated mineshaft to highlight the plight of gold-miners in South Africa.

Festival Hub – Paddington Town Hall

Image: Moshe Rosenzveig

For the first time in recent years, we presented the Head On Portrait Prize exhibition in a space of our own, free of charge. Thanks to the support of Fujifilm, the City of Sydney and Create NSW, the custom designed space at Paddington Town Hall bedazzled over 12,000 visitors with twelve stunning exhibitions curated by Moshe Rosenzveig OAM.

Budget friendly photography workshop


Image: Stephen Godfrey


Image: Peter Solness, lightpainting workshop.

In line with our philosophy to create accessible photographic events, we presented a budget-friendly workshop led by two outstanding photographers, Peter Solness and Alex Vaughan who shared their secret sauce.

Volunteers, partners and supporters

Image: Stephen Godfrey

Putting such an extensive program together requires enormous resource. What we lack (substantially) in cash, is offset by the generosity of the community. We are blessed by the generosity of our partners, the dedication shown by our volunteers, board members and a small team, exhibiting artists and you – our audience. Thank you to everyone.

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Head On Photo Awards 2024

Entries to the Head On Photo Awards 2024 are open now. $80,000 prize pool including finalists exhibition.

Image detail: Gary Ramage