the thing about festivals, the thing about photography, the thing about photobooks, the thing about placemaking, the thing about survival, the thing about care, the thing about exhibitions, the thing about sustainability, the thing about access, the thing about the thing, the thing about ideas, the thing about the climate, the thing about representation, the thing about collaboration, the thing about us

It is estimated that there are now more photographs taken each minute, than in the entirety of the 19th century; it is almost impossible to imagine the modern world without the context of the images that accompany it. Despite the prevalence of photography in our everyday life, understanding the language of photography and how we use it is still in its infancy. Photography is accessible and universal, it’s how we capture our family and friends, it’s how we share our holidays and experiences, it’s how we consume news and information, it’s how we communicate.

‘a knowledge of photography is just as important as that of the alphabet’

Laszlo Moholy Nagy, Painting, Photography, Film, 1927

However how do we ‘read’ an image? How do we understand the different ‘languages’ of photography? Hungarian photographer Laszlo Moholy Nagy predicted almost one hundred years ago that literacy in the future will mean being able to read and understand photography. We are now living that future and photography is the visual language of our time. At Photoworks we believe that there’s never been a more important time to champion visual literacy through photography; helping people create, enjoy and understand the images that envelop their lives.

Photoworks champions photography for everyone, established in 1995, we are an international platform that is global in reach. Our work is focussed on the development of photography and related media, through a programme of exhibitions, residencies, awards, learning and engagement, including the biennial Photoworks Festival and an annual publication. Photoworks is a registered charity is supported by public funding through Arts Council England’s National Portfolio, we collaborate with physical venues and our online channels are always open.

Our programme brings new experiences to audiences and opens up diverse ways to encounter photography. We strive to be accessible both online and in real life, we are open to all, and everyone is welcome. We are unique in our remit as the only national development agency for photography in the UK with a team and programme based across the UK and internationally. We have provided opportunities for artists and audiences for close to 30 years, our year round programme is innovative and accessible, offering opportunities to engage audiences worldwide, offering them new perspectives and encounters with photography.

The Photoworks Summit is an event produced by Photoworks, which will take place on the 12 and 13 March 2024, at Fabrica, a contemporary visual arts organisation in the heart of Brighton, UK. The Photoworks Summit is the place for photographers, creatives and arts professionals to gather and explore ‘The Thing’ about photography; from festivals to photobooks and across creative and professional practices. Featuring two days of presentations, performances, round tables and practical sessions, Photoworks Summit is an opportunity to meet, exchange and collaborate.

Why now? We are facing unprecedented change, a funding collapse is happening throughout the creative and public sector, arts provision in schools sorely diminished, the cost of living is in crisis, and we are in the midst of a climate emergency. Conflict, inequality, insecurity, anxiety, and mental health are affecting us all. We strive to be part of a happy, healthy, free, diverse, fair and global society. What can we do to achieve this, how can culture sustain, how can artists survive, how can we think, act and plan differently, how can we be better ancestors to future generations as citizens, artists, cultural leaders? It is clear that we cannot continue to function in the same way as before. Collaboration, partnership and cross sector engagement in the circular economy is crucial. We need to work towards transformative change now and act decisively with refreshed imagination to realise a new way forward.

By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganisation across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values. We can only achieve this through, dialogue, policy change, participation, flexibility, innovation, learning, time and kindness. This of course concerns the many interlinked challenges in society, but cultural organisations and artists have an important role to play. In the summit throughout the two days we invite audiences to listen, read, look and think but also to join in the creation of collective propositions that can take us into new territories, with care, empathy, and awareness.

The Photoworks Summit asks how can we use the logic of collectivity against precarity and wants to facilitate conversations that can incrementally affect progress, it is an invitation to come together to engage with photography in a diverse programme of ideas, sharing, and collaboration.

Day one of our Summit programme begins with The Thing – inspired by Photoworks’ latest annual publication. The Thing is an intersectional project that includes works on the environment, colonialism, feminism, class, and gay and disability rights. It suggests a common interest against a commodifying gaze and a technology both shaped by and perpetuating it. Two sessions feature writers and photographers from the publication discussing their work in relation to thingification including Diane Smyth (Editor, Photoworks), Jermaine Francis (Photographer), Ben Burbridge (Writer), Jess Crombie (Writer), Siobhan Warrington (Writer), and Eugenie Shinkle (Photographer).

The Thing is followed by two sessions focussed on The Future of Photo Festivals, where we explore sustainability, care, exhibition making, climate, consciousness, placemaking, new ways forward, the circular economy and how to be good ancestors in relation to cultural programming in a festival context. Featuring a range of speakers who have directed, curated and advised major international photography and related media festivals, including Louise Fedotov-Clements (Director, Photoworks), Maria Teresa Salvati (Director, Everything is Connected), Helen Starr (Director, Mechatronic Library), Julia Bunnemann (Curator, Photoworks), Alejandro Acín (Bristol Photo Festival Director) and Christine Eyene (Director/Curator).

Our evening event is focussed on words, images, and of course dancing. Local spoken word poets Erin James, Noah Martin and AFLO. the Poet will be performing in response to this year’s Photoworks Annual #30 The Thing. Followed by a very special DJ set by our Photoworks X Ampersand Artist in Residence, Matthew Arthur Williams (Junglehussi) together with guest slideshows.

Day two starts with A guide to consuming festivals without being devoured, looking at art and photography festivals through a humane lens. Join Ashokkumar Mistry together with Anna Farley (Project Artworks Associate Artist), Sonia Boué (Author of Neurophototherapy), Ngozi Ugochukwu (photographer, filmmaker and performer) present a holistic panel discussion and interactive Q&A leading to a collective record of thoughts on the accessibility of future festivals.

The Roundtables section of the programme is an opportunity to sit together to listen and join in with conversations about the most compelling challenges in our industry concerning practitioners and producers. From the thing about the role of art, survival, funding, project development, publishing and exhibition making to the thing about collective practice, we will delve into the important issues that impact creative practitioners today. Special guests will be present at each group with a nuanced perspective on the topic at hand.

In the afternoon the first edition of the Photoworks Photo book Club features presentations that highlight four approaches to photobook making, looking in details at the practical and conceptual aspects of the creation process of a book. Featuring photographers in conversation with publishers and curators. Tamsin Green (The Sustainable Photobook Publishing Network)/ Sayako Sugawara (Photographer); Jane & Jeremy (Designers/Publisher) / Elizabeth Fullerton (Writer) / Hannah Hughes (Artist); Julia Bunnemann (Curator, Photoworks) / Matthew Arthur Williams (Artist/PhotoworksXAmpersand Artist in Residence); Diane Smyth (Editor, Photoworks) / David O’Mara (Photographer).

Throughout both days delegates will be able to explore participatory exhibition installations of the two Photoworks Festival in a Box editions, a print sale, interactive making and ideas. A screen will show short films about photography including one on our national Picturing High Streets programme with Historic England. Plus two curated photobook installations including a photobook reading room by The Sustainable Photobook Publishing Network; and independent publishers Jane & Jeremy curate a photobook exhibition of indie books and contemporary publishers. We have also invited a text and image intervention by artist Gabrielle de la Puente (The White Pube) about accessing culture at home.

Thank you to everyone that has helped to produce this edition of the Photoworks Summit, including Spectrum Photographic, Fabrica, including our funders Arts Council England and the British Council.

Louise Fedotov-Clements, 6 March 2024


Photoworks Summit 12 & 13 March 2024 at Fabrica, Brighton
Get Tickets here. 

Day 1 + After Party: £25 (£18 concession)
After Party: £8 (£6 concession)
Day 2: £20 (£14 concession)
All Access: £45 (£31.50 concession)

*Day tickets include refreshments, and a vegan/vegetarian South/East Asian lunch by Nanima, an independent company local to Brighton
**Limited bursary places are available, email:

Become a Photoworks Friend

Becoming a Photoworks Friend is the only way to receive a Photoworks Festival in a Box. Join now to get yours as well as a range of year round exclusive content, opportunities, invites and 20% off in our online shop.

Photoworks Opportunities

Keep up to date with our latest opportunities as well as ways to learn more about how to get involved with and support our work.

Sign up here

Become a Photoworks Friend

The only way to receive Annual 26 & get exclusive access to our events, content and a 20% shop discount