Photo London 2022 in review

Over the five days of Fair, Photo London registered 35,000 visitors, and reported record sales across all sectors, with 106 galleries from 18 countries taking part in the Fair’s seventh edition. Setting this year apart was the significant support for exhibitors highlighting the Ukrainian crisis — Ilex (Warsaw), Sprüth Magers/David Zwirner and Alexandra de Viveiros (Paris) plus a strong attendance from international museums and individual collectors. The Public Programme exhibitions by Nick Knight and Frank Horvat were widely praised as highlights of the Fair plus the extended publishers section underlined the growing importance of the photobook. The hybrid Talks Programme ran online and at Somerset House and continues throughout May alongside Photo London Digital 3 , featuring 27 events in all.

The seventh edition of Photo London closed Sunday, 15 May 2022 and was a resounding success, having seen 35,000 visitors, robust sales across sectors, and major acquisitions by international institutions as well as important sales to private collectors. Over 100 galleries took part and several reported sell-out booths, with at least two exhibitors selling over 100 prints with prices ranging from £250 – £100,000 plus. The quality of the work on show was widely praised. As Philippe Garner, Chairman of the Photo London curatorial committee said, coming eight months after the sixth edition of the Fair in September 2021, this seventh edition demonstrated a considerable uplift in quality: “The reduced timeline and the lingering shadow of the pandemic made this a particularly challenging edition of the Fair. However, the result exceeded expectations in the overall quality and range of material on offer and in the standard of the installations.”

Many important collectors and institutions came to London for the first time in nearly three years. We welcomed visits from museum groups and individual representatives, including from:

  • Tate (London)
  • Victoria and Albert Museum (London)
  • Jeu de Paume (Paris)
  • Palais de Tokyo (Paris)
  • Centre Pompidou (Paris)
  • MoMA (New York)
  • MFA (Houston)
  • MAMCO (Geneva)
  • MEP (Paris)
  • Serpentine Galleries (London)
  • Kunstforum (Darmstadt)
  • Photo Elysee (Lausanne)
  • Asymmetry Art Foundation (London)
  • TANK Shanghai
  • Chisenhale Gallery (London)
  • FOAM (Amsterdam)
  • Tai Kwun (Hong Kong)
  • Troy House Art Foundation

This edition of Photo London was very well attended by important private collectors, with major sales reported to both local and international VIP visitors from regions including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, China and North and Central America. This rise in significant collectors had an immediate impact of gallery sales across all sectors of the Fair:

“Much like Eurovision, this year’s Photo London ended on a high! Goodman Gallery presented a solo of South African Mikhael Subotzky spanning some ten years of work; with a special focus on “Ponte City” — the award-winning collaboration with Patrick Waterhouse last seen in London at the 2015 Deutsche Börse Prize at the Photographers’ Gallery. An artistic intervention on the stand as well as a towering 4m Lightbox from Ponte City created huge interest from press, curators and collectors and resulted in significant sales ranging from $15k – $100k USD to private and institutional collections.”
— Jo Stella-Sawika, Senior Director Goodman Gallery (London and Cape Town)

“After sales had already exceeded our expectations last year, we were very much looking forward to returning to Photo London and are excited to be able to report equally strong sales this year. Put simply, we have sold out our booths in two consecutive years now and couldn’t be happier!“
— Robert Morat, Robert Morat Galerie (Berlin)

“Photo London 2022 was a triumph both for exhibitors and visitors. We vastly exceeded our expectations and sold over 20 works to 14 collectors, all of whom were unknown to us before the fair.”
—David Grob, Grob Gallery (Geneva)

“Last year Bildhalle had one of the best fairs ever in London. We felt the joy, passion and hunger for collecting photography even more strongly in this edition ‘Photo London 2022’ was once again very successful for the gallery. For several years, thanks to Photo London, we have built a solid and loyal community of collectors in the UK. Our Swiss clients who travelled to London were full of praise for the level of the fair and were pleased with many discoveries they made in the excitingly curated stands of the international exhibitors.”
— Mirjam Cavegn, Owner Bildhalle (Zurich & Amsterdam)

“After starting in the Discovery section a few years ago, this was our first year in the main section. Thanks to two beautifully located booths in the East Wing, we were able to show two solo presentations by Alia Ali and Anastasia Samoylova. It is wonderful to grow as a gallery together with its artists and collectors. The Fair has been a great success in every way. We were able to place works in some important private collections, both in the UK and in Germany, Switzerland and the US. We have had great encouragement from institutional curators and our presentation has been more than well received in the press. The fair has been a great success on all counts!”
— Peter Silem, Galerie—Peter—Sillem (Frankfurt)

“Great to have a newly energised Photo London back in its May slot. The audience this year was well informed and keen to learn more. We met many old friends but were particularly pleased with the number of new collectors in attendance. We’re looking forward to returning next year.”
— Matt Flowers, Managing Director, Flowers Gallery (London)

“What can I say… ‘The Power of Photography’ sums it up perfectly. We didn’t stop talking for five days straight! We were delighted to return to Photo London in person. It was an absolute pleasure to find such warm interest and engagement. From young collectors just starting out to those who might have thought they had seen it all – the conversation continues.”
— Peter Fetterman, Peter Fetterman Gallery (Santa Monica)

“SCAD was thrilled to present the work of a selection of the university’s preeminent artists to the world at Photo London,” said SCAD chair of photography Michael James O’Brien. “We realise, more than ever, how relevant visual culture becomes during challenging times and how important it is to gather with the international arts community at Somerset House. And gather we did! The energy was electric, the works were innovative, and conversations unmatched. Having the opportunity to engage with industry leaders and showcase SCAD stars on a global stage will continue to bring the university back to the fair each and every year. Cheers to a successful Photo London 2022!”

“In a very different context from 2021 and a more tense market, Photo London has shown its ability to bring together leading galleries as well as expert and active collectors. The international dimension of the fair is growing and the opportunities for the future are great. We look forward to returning in 2023.”
— Benoit Baume, Fish Eye Gallery (Paris)

“We had like every year quality people on the booth. Big and younger collectors, curators, institutions and journalists… a perfect mix and a really good ambiance with many spritz under the sun, it almost felt like Italy at Somerset House”
— 193 Gallery (Paris)

“We can say we have been living a wonderful experience and in particular this historical event of the double book signing of Martin Parr and James Barnor that has permitted an a extraordinary gathering with these two masters of photography and their fans. It was amazing, thank you for letting this happen!”
— Clementine de la Féronnière, Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière

Photo London’s acclaimed Discovery section (for galleries between 1 – 8 years’ old) was once again a highlight of the Fair and a groundbreaking tour of the frontiers of photography. Here too galleries recorded strong sales:

“Particularly as we are a young gallery, taking part in Photo London 2022 was an incredible opportunity to make connections and provided a vital platform for the artists we work with to reach international audiences. The fair had a fantastic energy this year, and felt like a celebration of photography in all its forms.”
— Doyle Wham (London)

“It is a blessing from life to be back again in Photo London at its full. Without a doubt, as one of the leading photography art fairs in the world, with its high quality offer of galleries, their curated tours for collectors and public from all the world enjoying a monumental historic precinct in Somerset House, a London landmark. Just at the beginning of the sunny season to enjoy tea or cocktails at their grand esplanade, to get energy for a day or perhaps a whole weekend to enjoy and collect some of the best photographic and art image art productions from around the world. ¡Gracias Photo London”
— Almanaque (Mexico City)

“We were glad to participate in Photo London for the first time. It gave the opportunity to the Ghanaian photographer Nana Yaw Oduro to win the People’s Choice Award. In a general way, Saïdou Dicko’s painted photographs hit a great success and seduced collectors from the UK but also France, Germany, Switzerland and the US.”
— Afrikaris (Paris)

“Being part of the Discovery section at Photo London was a wonderful experience. We have now expanded our audience & gained new clients. Visitors loved our ethos & our artists’ work. We gained valuable exposure to new audiences, collectors & institutions. It was a fantastic debut for L A Noble Gallery. We are delighted.”
— L A Noble Gallery (London)

In recognition of the importance of the photobook, Photo London expanded the space available to publishers and, again, this development was welcomed by international publishers:

“Aperture returned to Photo London after a two-year pandemic hiatus. With a larger space in the publishers’ section, the organisation presented its most recent titles and a preview of the upcoming ones, including Wendy Red Star’s first monograph Delegation and the upcoming issue of the magazine “Sleepwalking”, guest-curated by Alec Soth, launching in June. New and back-list titles were all well received by the public; the crowd was curious, engaging and interested to learn more about all the organisation’s activities. The audience also appreciated the series of limited edition prints with proceeds benefiting the artists and Aperture as well. During the Photo London week, Aperture also announced the winner of its Portfolio Prize, Felipe Romero Beltrán, who will be the guest of a virtual talk hosted by the fair this week, on May 20. Aperture is pleased and thankful to be back in London after so long and to continue the collaboration with Photo London, both virtually and in person.”
— Aperture (New York)

“OSMOS was very pleased to participate for the first time in Photo London with a well curated selection of vintage and contemporary works as well as new titles with our imprint. We met and sold to new collectors and developed conversations with curators from major London museums. Photo London provided OSMOS with a platform to further our business and networking opportunities.”
— Osmos (New York)

Our popular VIP Programme of events returned once again to complement the activities and events happening at the Fair, providing our collectors with an exciting array of events to attend throughout the week. Our VIP guests were treated to private visits to the studios of leading artists and photographers, including Isaac Julien and Miles Aldridge. A schedule of curator-led visits was also arranged, including tours of major exhibitions at Tate Modern, the Barbican, the Whitechapel Gallery and The Photographers’ Gallery. Our close supporters at the V&A hosted groups of our collectors for a special morning visit in the museum’s private collections and our collaborators at Sotheby’s hosted a celebratory breakfast on the occasion of Photo London 2022. At the Fair, we were thrilled to welcome our collectors for daily tours of the Discovery section in addition to exclusive exhibition introductions and a private champagne reception with Nick Knight.

“The location is really great, the size of the fair is manageable, the curation is very organised and straightforward. Photo London is a joy to visit, with a hugely variety of works. I’m extremely happy to discover new and interesting works, and learnt more about artists that I previously was not familiar with.”
— Du Yan, collector and founder, Asymmetry Art Foundation

The Public Programme exhibitions celebrated two figures who have revolutionised fashion photography in very different ways — Nick Knight and Frank Horvat. Both proved stand-outs for the public and press alike, attracting critical acclaim and large audiences.

Frank Horvat offered a fresh look at the legendary photographer who died in 2020. Presented through the dual lenses of Fashion and Paris by Night and curated by his daughter Fiammetta Horvat, the exhibition was an intimate homage to the man credited with transforming fashion photography by taking models out of the studio and photographing them in the street.

Nick Knight’s Master of Photography exhibition showed key works by Knight from the 1980s to today, including his iconic fashion collaborations with models such as Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Lily Donaldson and designers such as Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, and the exquisite Roses from my Garden works which push at the boundaries of what photography can be. Its centrepiece was a vast new nine-foot sculpture made using 3D scanning in collaboration with the designer Michaela Stark, which features three fleshy entwined figures. “Fashion is almost by definition transient whereas sculpture is permanent and I love the idea of mixing these two dynamics together,” Knight explained. “ The women in this sculpture are representations of beauty and of desire and reflect a new feeling of inclusiveness and broadening of what the fashion world thinks of as ‘acceptable beauty’ that is becoming much more present in fashion. It is something I have repeatedly championed, so I am thrilled to make this shift into something that feels permanent. A statement not just a trend”.

The Emerging Photographer of theYear Award, presented for the second year in partnership with NIKON, was won by Max Miechowski represented by OPEN DOORS (London) presenting his new series, Land Loss, which explore themes of time, community, resilience and continue the artists deep interest in the British East Coast. As Miechowski observes in this series: “We are as temporary as the cliffs”. His images reconnect us to our environment at a time of great uncertainty and encourage us to appreciate what we have. The People’s Choice Award was won by Nana Yaw Oduro , who is represented by AFIKARIS (Paris). Other shortlisted artists for the Emerging Photographer Award 2022 were: Andrej Lamut from Galerija Fotografija (Ljubljana), Elena Subach from ILEX Photo (Warsaw), Gabriel Dia from Fisheye Gallery (Paris), Hannah Hughes from Robert Morat (Berlin), Liz Calvi from SEAGER Gallery (London), Prince Gyasi from Nil Gallery (Paris), and Wendy Aldiss from L A Noble (London).

During the fair Nikon presented a series of fully booked workshops with the themes Film Noir and High Fashion. The Talks Programme — curated by William A. Ewing — presented a strong line- up of speakers, including Anastasia Samoylova, Gerry Badger and Melanie Manchot.

Prix Pictet presented Blackwater (2008-12), the winning series by Fire laureate Sally Mann. The Prix Pictet Lounge returned for its second year, with a special screening of images nominated for Fire, the ninth cycle of the global sustainability prize. The Lounge also played host to the first in a series of talks between Magnum Photos and Prix Pictet, with photographers Cristina de Middel and Olivia Arthur discussing the role of women in photography, and a second talk between Prix Pictet Shortlisters David Uzochukwu (Fire) and Margaret Courtney-Clarke (Hope).

Commenting on the success of this year’s edition, the Fair’s founders Michael Benson and Fariba Farshad said:

“This was by some distance our strongest edition to date. Given the external circumstances that is truly remarkable. If there was any lingering doubt that London has a future as a strong international centre for photography, then Photo London has just blown them away and then some… we aim to repeat that trick again next year. Gallery sales across every part of the Fair were exceedingly strong — some dealers reported selling over 100 photographs during the five days of the Fair, others simply sold out their booths. Collectors and museum groups returned to London in force, many of them for the first time since 2019. Our public programme exhibitions by Nick Knight and Frank Horvat were widely admired as was the fact that several of our exhibitors devoted their booths to presentations in support of Ukraine.

“There was a palpable buzz of excitement around the Fair which recalled the very early days of Photo London — those halcyon times before the world turned ugly. Our various partners played a significant role in helping create this mood — either through their support for the Master of Photography Collectors’ event (The Whiteley); our special photography supplement (FT); or our Emerging Photography award (Nikon). And, of course, it was clear to all that our new partnership with the World Photography Organisation held the promise of great things to come — Photo London may never be the biggest photography fair in the world, but there is no reason why it should not aspire to be the best.”