Photo North Festival is back in all its inspiring, inclusive, and world-renowned glory

Festivals with unique concepts that support incredible causes seem to be the North West’s forte at the mo - just look at SICK! festival and its menopause bus or bluedot and its Community Fund for 2022. Failing to let photography festivals fall behind, Photo North is also back for a full weekend in May, with a continued focus on supporting the homeless and marginalised and a programme full of world-renowned photographers. 

With a mission statement that champions community cohesion and thought provoking art, we’re struggling to find anything that we don’t love about Photo North to be honest.

Currently prepping for its third year of exhibitions, film screenings, and “meet the artist” opportunities, this year’s Photo North Festival will be held at Bonded Warehouse next to the Science and Industry Museum. Run by Sharon Price and Peter Dench, the festival is aimed at everyone from professional photographers to keen amateurs. 

The team also strives to make the whole thing accessible, welcoming and engaging for all. With a mission statement that champions community cohesion and thought provoking art, we’re struggling to find anything that we don’t love about Photo North to be honest. 

Read on for some of this year’s programme highlights and all the essential deets ahead of Manchester’s Photo North weekender.

Tom Stoddart Image From Photo North Festival At Bonded Warehouse 2022
Women doing incredible things shot by an incredible talent Image: Tom Stoddart via Photo North Festival

Tom Stoddart, Someone’s Daughter, and pics of The Verve

The themes for this year’s festival revolve around identity, faith, and hope, and even if you’re not a complete camera buff, the exhibitions focus on some incredible works that are as iconic as they are touching. 

Tom Stoddart’s documentary shots have covered everything from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the HIV/AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. With a career that spanned over 50 years and photobooks that could have you captivated for hours, his Photo North exhibition centres around his final publication Extraordinary Women: Images of Courage, Endurance and Defiance. Celebrating strong women from across the globe during times of poverty, hardship, and conflict, the images are an emotional, inspiring, and raw depiction of womankind in all her forms. 

Tom sadly passed away in November 2021, but bringing his work to life and educating the next generation of photojournalists, his close family friend and a representative of the Tom Stoddard Estate, Caroline Cortizo, will be hosting live Q&A’s throughout the festival. 

Whitney Clark Photo Hannah Starkey From Photo North Festival 2022
Hannah Starkey is in amongst Photo North's pool of uber-talented photographers Image: Hannah Starkey via Photo North Festival

Someone’s Daughter is another exhibition featured in this year’s Photo North fest that explores how female prisoners are “seen and understood” by society. A project initiated by The View Magazine, the varied and intimate portraits were shot by photographers such as Jennie Baptiste, Felicity Crawshaw and Sara Bennett. 

Sticking to the festival’s ethos of supporting various communities, The View Magazine is a community interest company that sends out print publications to women’s prison libraries and named women prisoners. Women in the criminal justice system can also contribute works to the publication for a £50 payment that becomes available upon release. Representatives from the mag will be hosting a panel discussion during the Photo North event on Sunday 8 May. 

Chris Floyd Images Of The Verve From Photo North Festival At Bonded Warehouse 2022
The drugs don't work, but they do make for some incredible photographs Image: Chris Floyd via Photo North Festival

If you’re heading to the festival in search of some nostalgic grungey pics from the 90’s, then Chris Floyd’s Inside the bubble & half a lifetime ago is the exhibition for you. Documenting one of the biggest selling British albums of all time, Chris Floyd’s snaps centre around The Verve’s “meteoric rise from late 1996 to 1997” after the release of Urban Hymns

With a true access-all-areas pass granted for him and his camera, the images document the recording, touring, and promoting of the album across the UK and the US. This is the first time these pics are going on display and most of them are completely unseen. 

All In A Days Work By David Collyer Photo North Festival Manchester 2022
David Collyer's All in a Day's Work earned him the title of documentary photographer of the year back in 2021 Image: David Collyer via Photo North Festival

Back to back photography events

Photo North is running from Saturday 7 May until Monday 9 May, and there are varied events every day throughout the event. 

On Saturday 7, there’s a book signing for David Collyer’s All in a Day’s Work, a series by the Royal Photographic Society’s documentary photographer of the year that focuses on healthcare workers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. There’s also a feature-length documentary screening on Picture Post magazine, a talk by Chris Floyd, and some exciting work by young people aged 12 - 20. 

The Sunday has more chats and screenings including a discussion by Richard Davis on what it was like to live in "Manchester’s notorious inner-city district" Hulme back in the 1980s and 90s. If you love old pics of Manchester then definitely check out Richard Davis' full exhibition too. There’s also a workshop on the Victorian Polaroid method (trailer below) and some clips from Tom Stoddart’s previous interviews.  

Monday 9 May is then dedicated to Education Day, with “participation and presence from education organisations and students from across the UK”. So there’s a bit of something for everyone. 

full rundown of the festival’s events programme can be found on their website, and the festival's Live Lounge runs daily with market stalls selling books and zines, food and drink stalls, and creatives on hand to offer career advice and portfolio reviews.

Evie Scarborough Submission To Photo North Student Competition 2020
Evie Scarborough won the Photo North student competition back in 2020 for her project The Pet Effect Image: Evie Scarborough

A free student competition

The simple yet expansive brief of “identity” is the focus for this year’s Photo North student competition. Using a definition of identity that relates to "the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and/or expressions that make a person or group", the comp winner will be announced at the festival on Monday 9. Loads of entries will also have their work featured on the Photo North Instagram page.

Submissions for this year’s competition have unfortunately closed already, but winners and runners up will have the chance to see their work alongside that of world-renowned talent on the walls of Bonded Warehouse. Student ambassadors Ashleigh, Megan and Evie will also be floating around to review and advise students on their next steps and current work. 

Haywood Magee Newsagents 1942 History Of Picture Post Magazine Photo North Festival 2022
The history of Picture Post magazine is the basis for one of Photo North's feature length screenings Image: Photo North Festival

Get me a ticket already

Ticket prices for Photo North Festival vary depending on your student status and whether you want to go all weekend or on one particular day. Student admission for the full festival is £20 or daily admission is £9 per day. If you’re not a student though, tickets are £5 extra for the full weekend or £12 per day. Tickets are available for purchase throughout the festival, but we advise that you check out the itinerary and book yourself a slot to avoid missing out. 

Ensuring that the festival sticks to its word as an accessible and inclusive institution, an honesty box will be in operation from 2:30pm on the Monday, and visitors currently on limited means can either enter free of charge or donate what they can. Art should be for all. 

Bonded Warehouse Castlefield Manchester
The old Granada Studios, or Bonded Warehouse as its now known, will play host to this year's Photo North fest Image: Social Trinity via Bonded Warehouse

Photo North Festival runs from Saturday 7 May - Monday 9 May 2022 at Bonded Warehouse. Each day runs from 10am 'til 4pm.

Keep up with the fest on Instagram and Twitter too if you’d like a feed full of fab photography. 

Bonded Warehouse, 18 Lower Byron Street, Manchester M3 4AP

Header Image: Richard Davis via Photo North Festival

Read next: Arts, theatre, gigs: Manchester's cultural calendar for 2022

Read again: From Joy Division to Granada: British Pop Archive arrives in Manchester

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